A great week to be a Great Dane!

May 26, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

Several months ago—which seems like an eternity now—I asked the Office of the Provost and the Office of University Events to develop in-person commencement options to recognize and celebrate our 2020 and 2021 graduates. 

This was a challenging request, even with significant improvements in the spread of COVID-19. The circumstances required complex, demanding and multifaceted events with hundreds of volunteers. As a result, we hosted one of the most innovative, intimate and celebratory graduation experiences in this institution’s history.

For seven days, we had the privilege to greet and congratulate nearly 3,000 graduates who made their way through the Great Dane Graduation Experience at Casey Stadium. Given what our students have been through this year, it was thrilling to see them come through the Concourse surrounded by their loved ones, hear their names read over the loudspeaker, and watch them walk across the stage. Tradition, celebration, tears, nostalgia and happiness were all part of our graduation events. What joyful memories this created for everyone involved.

Our OCM colleagues also created an outstanding virtual Commencement Ceremony featuring messages from the vice president for Student Affairs, deans, alumni, graduates and Senator Chuck Schumer; footage from the Graduation Experience; and a live degree conferral.

While we are very proud of our 2020 and 2021 graduates who achieved so much during these difficult times, we are also extremely proud of everyone who made this historic event a success. As I think about the hard work and dedication that went into our graduation events, it is clear: it truly does take a village.

While the University Events staff undertook the monumental task of developing a unique, innovative and celebratory graduation experience, hundreds of staff from every division and dozens of academic and administrative units across our campuses assisted with the development and execution, and showed up with great enthusiasm to celebrate with our graduates and their families. I know they will be eternally grateful for this joyous moment in their lives—which was made possible by so many of you.

Whatever role you played last week and in the weeks leading up to the experience, please know that we greatly appreciate your hard work during this time.

As I said to our graduates, I also say to you: ¡si se puede! At the end of the day, we are a great institution because of the commitment of our faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends and community members.

I know that many of you are exhausted after a very long week, and I hope you can now get some much-needed and well-deserved rest—knowing that you made a tremendous difference to our graduates and their loved ones.

Again, thank you for all that you do on behalf of University at Albany and especially on behalf of our students. ¡Muchísimas gracias!



Havidán Rodríguez