By Christine McKnight

The University awarded 2,322 undergraduate degrees, 1,353 master's degrees and certificates of advanced study and 174 doctoral degrees during its commencement exercises.

Indiana U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, Renowned Sociologist Matilda White Riley Highlight University at Albany Commencement

Richard Lugar, the senior United States senator from Indiana, urged graduates at the University at Albany's 153rd Commencement on Sunday, May 18 to "continue to develop your own capacities as truth seekers and truth tellers through study and public witness."

"The idea of searching for the truth and then telling the truth as you have found it is a difficult but not a new idea. What is new today is our public recognition and celebration of each of you as potential champions who will enrich the dialogue of our society and renew the idealism and hope that undergirds the best moments of our lives," said Lugar, best known as an advocate for U.S. interests in the international arena. He is a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Besides delivering the keynote address at the University's undergraduate commencement ceremonies, Lugar was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree.

Lugar, a Republican who was first elected to the Senate in 1976, has been a longtime champion of excellence in education and won a seat on the Indianapolis Board of School Commissioners in his first run for public office. A Rhodes scholar, he is a trustee of his alma mater, Denison University, and vice chairman of the board and a former instructor at the University of Indianapolis. Lugar is also recognized as a leading expert on economic development, housing and other urban issues, and currently serves as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He continues to serve on the Foreign Relations Committee, which he formerly chaired.

State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, received the Medallion of the University, the highest award for distinguished service that the University bestows, during the morning ceremonies at the Pepsi Arena in downtown Albany.

The Medallion awarded to Bruno recognizes his "extraordinary public service and leadership on behalf of higher education and commitment to the fundamental values of American society." Bruno, who was first elected to the state Senate in 1976, recently played a leadership role in the University's acquisition and development of a high technology campus in East Greenbush which is the new home of the School of Public Health, and has contributed in innumerable ways to the support of the University, including working for funding for the Center for Environmental Sciences and Technology Management and the new library.

Dr. Matilda White Riley, a world-renowned figure in the field of sociology who is credited with having revolutionized our understanding of age and the aging process, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at graduate ceremonies in the afternoon at the Recreation and Convocation Center on the Uptown Campus at 1400 Washington Ave. Dr. Riley is the senior social scientist at the National Institute on Aging, which is part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

"You are among the first to enter a world undergoing an unparalleled revolution in age. This age revolution is complex and little understood, but it is altering the very nature of society, and it will transform your lives. It will create hitherto unknown choices, more rewarding opportunities, more flexible life pathways. It will bring you the extraordinary benefits of time," Dr. Riley told students who earned graduate degrees at the University.

Dr. Riley, a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, was a founder in the late 1960s of the sociology of aging and age structure. At the time, aging was seen as a biological process that was inevitable and irreversible, and the prevailing image of being old was to be frail and dependent. Dr. Riley dismantled that stereotype, and showed that the realities of aging were far more positive than the public's perceptions. Aging and Society, a three-volume set produced by Dr. Riley and her colleagues, remains a landmark exploration of the social dimensions of aging after more than three decades. She remains an active scholar in her mid-80s.

1997 Commencement