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UAlbany Celebrates 166th Commencement

Author Persico provides keynote address at the Undergraduate Ceremony, Congressman Tonko addresses grads

Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150



UAlbany commencement May 2010

Students will celebrate May 15-16 at the University at Albany's 166th Commencement Ceremonies. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 12, 2010) -- Author and alumnus Joseph E. Persico ('52) will deliver the undergraduate keynote address at the 2010 Commencement Ceremony at the University at Albany on May 16 at 10 a.m. on the campus Grand Entry Plaza. Congressman Paul D. Tonko will address the graduate commencement on May 15. An estimated 3,141 students are expected to participate in the 166th commencement ceremonies, including 2,260 undergraduate and 881 graduate degree applicants (141 doctoral, 723 masters and 17 advanced and graduate certificates).

The undergraduates will receive degrees in 50 different majors, with the largest numbers in (descending order) psychology, business, communication, English, sociology, economics, history, biology,  and political science. The average cumulative GPA for the undergraduate class is 3.08, and as many as 12 may graduate with a perfect 4.0. There are 20 military veterans in the class, with 87 students participating in the Presidential Scholars Program. Fifty percent of the class are women, their ages range from 19 to 61, and their average age is 23.

UAlbany undergraduates hail from 50 foreign countries, including Afghanistan, Brazil, Ghana, Italy, Israel, Japan, Pakistan, Peru, Portugal, Switzerland, Togo and Vietnam. Students also come from 24 states, including California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Joseph E. Persico
Persico, author and former speechwriter for New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, received a bachelor's degree in English and political science from the New York State College for Teachers (now known as the University at Albany), in 1952. He served for three years in the U.S. Navy aboard a minesweeper and also with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Headquarters in Naples, Italy.

In 1956, Persico began his political writing career, serving Governor W. Averell Harriman as a writer and researcher. Persico became the chief speechwriter for Governor Rockefeller in 1966. Continuing in this position for seven years, he remained Rockefeller's primary speechwriter as the Governor assumed the office of Vice President of the United States from 1974 to 1977.

In 1977, Persico transitioned into a full-time author, focusing on historical subjects. In that year, his Civil War piece, My Enemy My Brother: Men and Days of Gettysburg, was released. Two years later, he followed up this work with a novel, The Spiderweb, and a nonfiction study, Piercing the Reich: The Penetration of Nazi Germany by American Secret Agents During World War II. In 1982, Persico focused on Nelson Rockefellerís life and published the biography, The Imperial Rockefeller.  During the 1990s, Persico created other historical works on both American espionage and the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials following World War II. These works were Casey: From the OSS to the CIA and Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial. Persico collaborated with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and later Secretary of State, Colin L. Powell, on his autobiography, My American Journey.  In November 2001, Random House Inc. released Rooseveltís Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage and in 2004, Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918, World War I and Its Violent Climax was published.

Graduate Commencement
The graduate commencement will be held at SEFCU Arena on the uptown campus on Saturday, May 16 at 9 a.m. The graduate class hails from 52 countries, including Armenia, Australia, Bangladesh, Cyprus, Hungary, Haiti, Jamaica, Morocco, the Russian Federation, Spain, Turkey, and Zambia. The students represent 15 states, including Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Vermont. Students will receive degrees in public health, Nanoscale science and engineering, public administration and social work.

Paul D. Tonko
Congressman Tonko is serving his first term in Congress representing the 21st District of New York, which includes Albany. Tonko holds more than two decades of administrative, legislative and policy experience having served in the New York State Assembly from 1983 to 2007, and as President and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) from 2007-2008.

Congressman Tonko is a nationally recognized expert on energy issues. An engineer by training, Tonko served as chairman of the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Energy prior to leaving the Assembly to join NYSERDA. As chairman, Tonko fought to protect consumers, fought against utility deregulation and worked to upgrade New Yorkís aging energy infrastructure. While at NYSERDA, Tonko worked to advance an aggressive green agenda for businesses and residents throughout New York State. In Congress, he is a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor and serves on the subcommittees for Higher Education and Healthy Families and Communities.

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