Press Release Contact: Lisa James Goldsberry (518) 437-4989

UAlbany Holds 156th Commencement Ceremonies

University at Albany Professor John Delano, a nationally known geochemist who is working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to investigate the origins of life, was the featured speaker at UAlbany's 156th undergraduate commencement ceremony. The event was held on Sunday, May 21, at 10 a.m., at the Pepsi Arena in downtown Albany.

This year, the University awarded 2,472 undergraduate degrees, 1,361 master's degrees and 219 doctoral degrees. The Senior Class Gift, which is the establishment of a scholarship fund for which $18,000 has already been collected, was presented to UAlbany President Karen R. Hitchcock during the ceremony by Senior Class President David Bender.

Shirley Downey, director of the Career Development Center, said, "The growing economy and low unemployment rate make it an incredible year for students entering the workforce. Overall the college labor market will expand by 11–15 percent from last year, which was a very good year. Many University at Albany students had secured jobs by the end of the fall semester. The toughest choice for some students was trying to decide between multiple job offers they received."

One of a handful of scientists leading the nation in trying to answer some of the most basic questions about the universe, Delano has worked with NASA in various capacities since 1979. He is currently associate director of their Center for Studies on the Origins of Life as well as principal investigator of their Exobiology Program. His commencement address was highlighted by a slide show.

Delano has been a faculty member at UAlbany since 1982. He served as chair of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences from 1996–99. Among his many honors, he received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Prior to coming to Albany, Delano had positions at SUNY Stony Brook, Australian National University, and he served as a co-investigator for the Planetary Materials and Geochemistry Program for NASA.

Delano received his Ph.D. in geochemistry from SUNY Stony Brook.

The University's graduate commencement began at 2:30 p.m. May 21 at the Recreation and Convocation Center on the Uptown Campus. Julian Zelizer, an associate professor of both History and Public Policy, was the keynote speaker. He has been on the faculty at UAlbany since 1996. An expert on American history, he is author of the well-received book, Taxing America: Wilbur D. Mills, Congress and the State, 1945–1975. He has recently won a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend Award for his book project, Making Democracy Work? Congressional Reform, 1945–2000. He earned both his master's and doctoral degrees from Johns Hopkins University.

At the graduate commencement, Edward and Frances George (class of 1938) of Lake Wales, Fl., received an Excelsior Medal from the State University of New York (SUNY). A married couple who met at the University more than 60 years ago, they gave the University $1 million, the largest alumni gift ever received by the University. To acknowledge their generosity, the University named the first building on the East Campus, which now houses the School of Public Health, in their honor. The Excelsior Medal is given to individuals who have committed a million dollars or more to a SUNY school.

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