O'Leary, Baginski, Fletcher Honorees
by Media & Marketing Staff (May 10, 2006)
Vincent O'Leary, Maureen A. Baginski, and Alphonse Fletcher Jr. will receive honorary degrees at this year's Graduate Commencement Ceremony, which begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 20, in the Recreation and Convocation Center. Fletcher is the keynote speaker.
Vice President for Student Success James A. Anderson is the speaker for the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony, which starts at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 21, on the Science Library Lawn. This ceremony is outdoors, rain or shine.
Vincent O'Leary, president of the University at Albany from 1977 to 1990, will receive a Doctor of Laws degree. He led the University at a time of major transformation.
A nationally recognized scholar in the criminal justice fields of probation and parole when he joined the University as a faculty member in 1968, he never sought but increasingly was asked to take on crucial leadership roles, first as acting dean of the nation's leading school of criminal justice.
Through his acumen and charm, O'Leary instilled the campus with a new sense of confidence and pride in its mission. Under his guidance, core Ph.D. programs were restored and new ones of national prominence were developed at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy and the School of Public Health.
O'Leary oversaw the University's first international exchange efforts in research and scholarship. He established student traditions such as the candle-lighting ceremony and Fountain Day. He approved the first expansion of residential housing on the uptown campus, the construction of the University's first athletic house - the Recreation and Convocation Center - and a new Science Library.
During his tenure, he witnessed the growth of diversity on America's campuses and responded dynamically, successfully promoting increased numbers of people of color in faculty, staff, and the student body. When racial tensions grew in the late 1980s, his administration created initiatives to ease tensions and promote understanding. And, with the establishment of the "Principles for a Just Community," he affirmed the institution's commitment to the ideals of justice.
Maureen A. Baginski, B.A. '77, M.A. '79, will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters. Baginski distinguished herself first at the National Security Agency (NSA) and later at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) during 26 years of public service.
At the FBI, which she joined in May 2003, she was charged with re-inventing the Bureau's intelligence program to dramatically strengthen counter-terrorism efforts. As she put it, she was responsible for ensuring that the "dots are connected" and for "putting in place the policies and processes necessary for intelligence production."
In her two years as director of the FBI's intelligence program, she was credited with enhancing the bureau's capacity to fuse and use intelligence from across the agency. Baginski built an intelligence infrastructure to manage all FBI intelligence activities, and ensure that the FBI's intelligence activities were integrated with its investigative operations. She also led the development of a professional Intelligence Career Service.
When the FBI established a National Security Branch in August 2005 that consolidated the FBI's counterterrorism, counter-intelligence, and intelligence programs, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said it was being constructed on "the strong foundation that Maureen built."
Baginski credits the University at Albany with giving her a "fabulous foundation" for her career. She earned both bachelor's and master's degrees in Russian from UAlbany, and she spent a year in Moscow as an exchange student at the Moriz Torez Foreign Language Institute. The harsh conditions of Soviet life made her appreciate America, she said, and she returned determined to work in public service. Her exemplary record of public service reflects that commitment.
Alphonse Fletcher Jr. will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters. Fletcher is known for his acumen and success in finance and investment management, and for his philanthropy on behalf of the environment and education, including major initiatives that seek to improve race relations and to illuminate civil rights issues.
After graduating from Harvard with a bachelor's degree in applied mathematics, Fletcher began a career in finance with Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc., and continued as a senior vice president with Kidder, Peabody & Co. Inc., where he founded and managed a team that invested the firm's own capital. In 1991, he founded Fletcher Asset Management Inc., which he serves as chairman and chief executive officer. Fletcher Asset Management Inc. specializes in direct investments in established and emerging growth companies managed with a view towards environmental and social sustainability.
In 2004, Fletcher's deep belief in education
as a transforming agent was advanced in dramatic
fashion when he announced a $50 million
initiative in conjunction with the 50th
anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of
Education U.S. Supreme Court decision. This
program will provide individual fellowships,
scholarships, and institutional grants for
projects designed to promote racial equity and
to improve race relations.