After a Decade, UAlbany Commencement Returns to Campus for Commencement
Contact: Vincent Reda, 518-437-4985
For the first time in a decade, the University at Albany commencement
is back on campus for Commencement Weekend 2001, May 19-20. More importantly,
for the first time since 1990, graduates will enjoy individual recognition
for academic achievements and a series of events evoking the close-knit
traditions of the college experience.
A formal Degree Conferral Ceremony for all undergraduates will take
place on Sunday at 10 a.m. on the South Lawn of the Science Library.
President Hitchcock and the senior class president will deliver remarks
to the graduates. A formal Graduate Commencement will be held on campus
on Saturday at 10 a.m. in the RACC. More than 1,700 undergraduates and
approximately 900 graduate students will receive degrees from UAlbany
In addition, each department or school will hold individual commencement
ceremonies with a variety of speakers that reflect their fields of study.
National pollster John Zogby will speak to the Department of
Political Science; former Surgeon General and current NYS Health
Commissioner Dr. Antonia Novello will speak at the School of Public
Health ceremony; Hunter College professor and president of the National
Association of Social Workers, Terry Mizrahi, will address the School
of Social Welfare; and Abraham Lackman, secretary of the New York
Senate and director of its Senate Finance Committee, will address
the Department of Economics.
At the University's Graduate Commencement, Nobel Laureate in physics
Jerome I. Friedman will present the major address and receive an
Said President Karen R. Hitchcock: "The smaller ceremonies will make
it possible for us to honor our graduates, celebrate their accomplishments,
and acknowledge their families in a more personal way. By dedicating
an entire weekend to Commencement, we are recognizing it as a time of
real significance and celebration."
President Hitchcock appointed a Graduation Task Force in 2000 to review
all commencement activities at UAlbany, and what it found would not
have surprised recent graduates or their parents. "The Task Force felt
that the undergraduate ceremony was too impersonal, too crowded, and
too remote from the campus where these graduates lived and worked for
four or more years," she said. "Clearly, a new approach to this significant
academic event was needed in order to appropriately recognize our graduates
and their families."
In keeping with the Task Force's recommendations, the changes in UAlbany
Commencement this year include: ¨
- An expansion of a one-day Sunday commencement into a two-day Commencement
- Undergraduate ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday held on campus for
each department or school to individually recognize each graduate
and his or her academic honors;
- A Commencement Picnic, 3-7:30 p.m. on the podium for all students
and their families;
- A greatly expanded Torch Night, Friday at 8:30 p.m., a traditional
event in which each senior hands down a "light of knowledge" to a
freshman student of their choice; and
- A fireworks display to end Saturday evening.
Giving commencements the personal touch has become a growing challenge,
particularly for the nation's large research universities, such as the
University at Albany.
This February, the inaugural Commencement Planners Conference was held
at Arizona State University. There, a new professional organization
was established: the North American Association of Commencement Officers.
"What we found is that we face many of the same challenges as our
sister institutions, and also that the amount of resources put into
commencements varies widely," said Linda Wheeler, UAlbany director of
special events, who attended the conference.
Wheeler reports that UAlbany's schools and departments have so far
responded enthusiastically, trying to distinguish their ceremonies from
others. "The art, music and theater departments will include an art
exhibit, a chamber music performance, and a soliloquy by a theater student,"
she said. The Department of Classics chair, Louis Roberts, will recite
to the graduates an approbation in Latin.
Said President Hitchcock: "We are enormously proud of our students,
and we are making every attempt to organize meaningful, dignified ceremonies
worthy of them and their families. We are confident that the series
of events we have planned will permit our graduates - and their guests
- to both enjoy themselves as well as provide a wonderfully fitting
conclusion to their years at the University at Albany."
For more information, please visit the Commencement Weekend 2001 website
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May 11, 2001
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