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A New Beginning

May Commencement Weekend Features Streamlined Calendar

Graduates celebrate after having their degrees conferred at 2015 Commencement. (Photo by Mark Schmidt) 

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 17, 2017) — A visit from an astronaut and a new Baccalaureate Torch Reception will be part of this May’s Commencement Weekend, which also will feature a streamlined calendar of ceremonies recognizing graduates by college or school.

The weekend begins with the Graduate Degree Conferral Ceremony on Friday evening, May 19, honoring all masters and doctoral graduates, and ends Sunday morning, May 21, with the Undergraduate Ceremony, when Interim President James R. Stellar will confer degrees on all the graduating seniors.

In between, there will be 11 separate Recognition Ceremonies for undergrads, taking place Saturday in four venues — SEFCU Arena, Page Hall, the PE Gymnasium and the Campus Center Ballroom. The ceremonies, grouped by college or school, offer students the chance to be recognized individually as they cross a stage in front of their school or college dean, faculty and fellow students.

The new schedule condenses the college and school ceremonies from past years, when more than 30 ceremonies were held at more than a dozen different venues. The change allows for better use of University resources and reduces conflicts for students with double majors and multiple minors.

“These changes are all about unifying our commencement into one celebratory weekend — and creating a signature UAlbany experience for our graduates and their family members,” Interim President Stellar said. “Over the course of the weekend all graduating students will have an opportunity to cross a stage and have their names read — a critical rite of passage that honors the significance of this achievement.”

Friday evening’s Graduate Degree Conferral Ceremony will focus on the University’s graduate population, with masters and doctoral candidates crossing the stage as their names are read and their degrees conferred.

Saturday’s undergraduate recognition ceremonies culminate with the Baccalaureate Torch Reception, a new event hosted by the Alumni Association to honor graduates and welcome them as new alumni. The reception, set for 7:30-9 p.m. at the main fountain and Lecture Center Concourse, will offer an opportunity for graduating seniors and their guests to celebrate their achievements alongside UAlbany faculty, deans, administrators and alumni.

On Sunday at 11 a.m., graduating seniors will gather on the Entry Plaza lawn for the Undergraduate Degree Conferral Ceremony, where degrees will be conferred en masse by school or college.
The keynote address will be given by Captain Scott Kelly, an engineer, U.S. Navy captain and retired astronaut whose space missions include a 340-day stay aboard the International Space Station. A State University of New York grad himself (SUNY Maritime College ’87), Kelly logged more than 8,000 hours as a Navy aviator before joining NASA’s space program.

Kelly’s year in space helped pave the way for the future of space travel through an unprecedented NASA study on how space affects the human body. His memoir, Endurance: My Year In Space and Our Journey to Mars, is set for release in fall 2017 and has already been optioned for film by Sony Pictures. He retired from NASA in April 2016.

“The University Events Office has produced Commencement Weekend since 2001 and though it’s a demanding task we are honored to have the opportunity to create a meaningful weekend for our graduates and their families and friends,” said Director of University Events Christine Doyle, MBA ’04. “We wish to thank the administration, deans, school/college commencement coordinators, functional area leaders and our vendors for assisting with building out this new schedule. We feel strongly it will leave a lasting impression with our students, who we seek to engage as future alumni.”

For more information on Commencement Weekend, visit the website, which includes the complete schedule of events as well as resources for students, parents, faculty and staff.

One University, One Graduation

Starting this year, the University will no longer hold a December Commencement Ceremony. Instead, all graduates — whether they complete their degree requirements in December, in the January term, in Summer or in May — will be invited to participate in the May 2018 Commencement Weekend, when all degrees will be conferred.

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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.