UAlbany graduates 4,052 at ceremony

At Siena College, 691 receive degrees

Gazette Reporter
(Reproduced courtesy of The Gazette Newspapers)
ALBANY — Embrace basic values and don't shrink from challenges, graduates from the University at Albany were advised Sunday during the college's 156th annual commencement exercises.

"In facing crossroads in life, draw strength and guidance from values that are fundamentally strong and simple, for it is they that endure when elaborate, artificial or contrived notions either fail or are forgotten," said university professor and geochemist John Delano.

A scientist who has worked with NASA since 1979, Delano used a series of anecdotes to encourage the university's graduates to maintain a back-to-basics value system that incorporates humility, honesty, humor, persistence and leadership.

He suggested they "delight in laughter" and asked them to ponder such questions as, "Why is the word `abbreviation' so long."

University President Karen Hitchcock urged the graduates to confront change head-on and employ the confidence to be creative. "Don't fear change," she explained. "Embrace it actively, fully, boldly and creatively."

Throughout the ceremony, groups of students cheered themselves on. Meanwhile, others entertained the crowd of 11,000 by sending multi-colored beach balls sailing through the air, responding with long-winded "boos" when the inflatable toys were intercepted by staff and volunteers.

Just before the morning's processional, Kathy Stein, 31, of Clifton Park sat on a metal folding chair and waited for her wheelchair to arrive.

Admittedly tired, the glassy-eyed Stein had been taking college courses on-and-off for 10 years, and had finally earned a bachelor's degree in biology.

On Tuesday, she also gave birth to her first child, Brianna Nicole.

"I'm so exhausted right now. I just had a baby girl and she was up all night," Stein said. A high-school drop-out, she made a decision in 1990 to return to school.

"It's been a long haul. I've been an `adult learner' for a long time," the new mother said.

In addition to the 2,472 undergraduate degrees conferred at the Pepsi Arena Sunday morning, 1,361 received master's degrees and 219 were awarded doctoral degrees at a ceremony later in the day.

This year's senior class gift was the establishment of an $18,500 scholarship fund for students with financial need. The class' target amount was 20,000, said David Bender, senior class president.

At Siena College in Loudonville on Sunday, 673 undergraduates and 18 graduate students received degrees.

Honorary degrees were awarded to Kenneth L. Woodward, who's headed "Newsweek's" religion section for 36 years; award winning novelist Mary Higgins Clark; Kenneth F. Hackett, executive director of Catholic Relief Services; and Roberto O. Gonzalez, archbishop of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and a member of the Class of '72.

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