For Immediate Release—Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mary E. McCrank
Media Relations Officer
(585) 245-5516

SUNY Geneseo Graduates 1,175 Students
at Today's Commencement

Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson challenges Geneseo graduates
to use their lives to find solutions to global problems

GENESEO, N.Y.—With sunny skies over the Genesee Valley providing a picturesque setting, nearly 1,200 State University of New York at Geneseo students received their diplomas today from an institution New York State Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson deemed "the best our state has to offer."

During the 141st commencement ceremony, 1,140 undergraduates and 35 graduate students received their bachelor's and master's degrees, respectively. Roughly, 9,000 people, including the graduates, attended the ceremony, which was broadcast live on the World Wide Web.

In addition to Paterson's commencement address, Dr. Svetlana Grigorievna Ter-Minasova, one of Russia's most respected leaders promoting educational exchange and international cooperation among universities, was honored with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the State University.

Paterson, who was elected lieutenant governor of New York in November 2006, is known for demanding and achieving change at every level throughout his political career. Elected to represent Harlem in the state Senate in 1985, he was voted by his peers in 2002 to serve as minority leader of the Senate, becoming the first non-white legislative leader in New York's history. In 2004, Paterson—who is legally blind—became the first visually impaired person to address a Democratic National Convention (Boston). In 2006, running on the Democratic ticket with Governor Eliott Spitzer, he became the first African-American elected as New York's lieutenant governor. 
Paterson is a nationally recognized advocate for the visually and physically impaired. He is a graduate of Columbia University and Hofstra Law School and also serves as an adjunct professor at Columbia's School for International and Public Affairs.

Paterson told the graduates they are receiving their diplomas from one of the top schools in the country. "I think it is so great that a No. 1 school would invite a No. 2 to be its keynote speaker," Paterson noted, referring to being second in command to Gov. Spitzer.

In his address, Paterson told the audience New York state faces many hurdles regarding economic development, education and opportunities. He reminded the graduates they are entering a world facing serious challenges, ranging from homeland security to global warming to economic vitality.

Paterson urged the graduates to use their creativity to find solutions to housing for the poor, substance abuse, crime, unemployment, health care and education.

SUNY Geneseo President Christopher C. Dahl also addressed the graduates.

"From its beginnings more than 135 years ago, Geneseo has sought to send thoughtful, well-prepared graduates into the world," said Dahl. "Your collective record in the past four years suggests that we've succeeded with you. My colleagues and I believe we have offered you a superior education based in the liberal arts.  By the same token, we have learned from you. We have called upon you to be active learners rather than passive recipients of knowledge, and we take pride in your completion of a challenging and varied course of study."

Also during the ceremony, Gordon Gross and Stephen Hunt, members of the SUNY board of trustees, conferred the Doctor of Humane Letters degree on Dr. Svetlana Grigorievna Ter-Minasova, professor and founding dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages and Area Studies of Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU). She is a world-renowned scholar in applied linguistics and cross-cultural communications. Since 1983, she has served with distinction as a teacher, scholar and administrator at MSU.

Today, she was honored for her life's work, as well as her active partnership with the State University and Geneseo in creating exchange agreements and other dual degree programs between the academic institutions.

Senior orator and international relations major Holly Klopchin, from Goshen, N.Y., spoke to graduates and guests. Her address, titled "My Geneseo Family," paid tribute to Geneseo's influence, which began in 1966 when her parents met as freshmen at the college. In addition, her sisters and brother-in-law are all alumni.

"Before 2003, the only Geneseo I had ever known was the one that my mother, father and sisters had talked about since I was young," she said.  "They talked about it as if it were another member of the family; the stories, the education, and the friends and memories my family would never forget. "

Other highlights during the ceremony included a greeting by Aminy I. Audi, a member of the SUNY board of trustees, and a performance of Geneseo's alma mater by senior John Kaczorowski of Williamsville, N.Y., who majored in theater/English and adolescent education.

Also during commencement, the Richard Roark Award was presented to Sara F. Gordon, a double major in political science and psychology, of Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., for her excellence in academics and service to the community.

Seniors Kristen Rathbun of Horseheads, N.Y., and Sarah Chambers of Fort Plain, N.Y., presented the college with a check representing the senior class gift, which will fund four student scholarships and a 15-foot presidential clock. The scholarships, each for $1,000, were awarded to: freshman Colleen McNamara of Clarence, N.Y., sophomore Stephanie Murdock of Oyster Bay, N.Y., junior Brendan See of Lockport, N.Y., and senior Thomas Coleman of Allegany, N.Y.

The Geneseo Brass Ensemble provided music at commencement.

In addition, several awards were presented to students at Friday's New Alumni Convocation:

       The Student Association President's Cup was presented to Jessica Vigars of West Seneca, N.Y., for her exemplary service, dedication and leadership to the Student Association and its organizations.

       The Alumni Association Student Leadership Award was presented to Thomas Coleman of Allegany, N.Y., for his exemplary leadership in college activities directed at advancing the quality of student life at Geneseo and promoting greater awareness for lifelong associations with the college.

       The Edward Pettinella '73 Senior Leadership Awards were presented to Sergey Zinger of Fairport, N.Y., who will receive $2,500 for graduate school, and to Kristen Johnson of East Otto, N.Y., and Xiu Yi Zhen of New York, N.Y., who will each receive $1,250 for entering the job market.