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University at Albany Celebrates Winter Commencement, Dec. 7

Proctors' CEO Philip Morris to Deliver Keynote Address and Receive Honorary Degree

Winter Commencement begins at 1 p.m. on Sunday, December 7, at UAlbany's SEFCU Arena. Doors open at noon.(Photo by Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 2, 2014) – More than 1,000 students are expected to earn their degrees from the University at Albany on Sunday, December 7, during winter commencement at UAlbany’s SEFCU Arena. Proctors’ CEO Philip Morris will deliver the keynote address and receive an honorary degree. The ceremony begins at 1 p.m. An estimated 559 undergraduates will receive degrees in about 56 different majors including psychology, sociology, communication, business, economics, and biology. Human biology, accounting, criminal justice, and English round out the Top 10 majors for the graduates. Graduates hail from 19 states and 14 different countries, including China, Korea, New Zealand, Vietnam, Italy, Singapore, and Nepal. The oldest graduate is 41, while the youngest is 19. Females make up 53 percent of the class, and there are six veterans receiving degrees.

More than 460 graduate students will receive a master’s degree, a doctorate, or a graduate certificate at commencement. The most popular graduate degree programs include computer science, mental health counseling, economics and public health. Graduate students come from 16 states and 20 countries, including China, India, Korea, Taiwan, Pakistan, Japan, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Iran, Philippines, and Zambia. Female students make up about 60 percent of the graduating class, and there are five veterans earning degrees.

Visionary Arts Leader, Philip Morris

Winter commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient, Philip Morris is a visionary leader in the Capital Region arts and entertainment industry. The Proctors’ CEO is lauded for his longtime contributions to the cultural and economic revitalization of the Capital Region.

Morris began his career in arts administration as a choral singer at Hamilton College, spearheading their first European tour. At 22 he became Arts Council Director of Jamestown, N.Y., where he discovered firsthand how art and community co-evolve. He launched his first capital campaign to save the local Reg Lenna Civic Center, a 1,200-seat theatre on the cusp of ruin. While in western New York, Morris developed his unique gift to the growing arts administration field – an abiding commitment to creativity, community, and commerce.

In 2002, as Proctors conducted its search for a new CEO, the organization reached across the state to Jamestown. Here was an entirely new challenge for Morris – to revitalize the Schenectady arts community within the dauntingly complex Capital Region. This was about more than just restoring and enlarging an old vaudeville house, although Morris met that goal. His charge was to restore confidence to a downtown devastated by industrial history and political gridlock.

Through community entrepreneurship, Morris initiated a $40 million capital campaign, expanding the historic stagehouse to accommodate the largest Broadway touring productions, and adding a flexible black box theatre and conference and education spaces. In a less traditional move, he pursued an in-house power plant that recycles waste heat, allowing Proctors and its downtown neighbors to drastically reduce their bills and carbon footprint. When Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany faced financial problems, Morris negotiated a new and unique management situation, allowing both theatres to operate cooperatively as independent entities.

The Education Department at Proctors now reaches 35,000 students in nearly 400 schools and day care centers in over 100 school districts each year. More than half a million people travel to Proctors every year to enjoy more than 1,700 events, up from 170 events in 2002. Patrons attending Proctors generate over $45 million each year for local businesses.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.