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Class of 2010 Ready for the World!

Katie Boyle

See more photos from
Commencement 2010>>

With words of wisdom from a SUNY Fredonia alumnus and appreciation from the graduating class, approximately 1,400 students were honored in Steele Hall today as Fredonia President Dennis L. Hefner conferred bachelor’s and master’s degrees and advanced certificates.

Commencement at Fredonia included two nearly identical events at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to accommodate the large number of students as well as their family and friends, many of whom traveled great distances to join them for this memorable occasion.

Both ceremonies featured speeches from President Hefner, Fredonia College Council Chair Frank Pagano, keynote speaker and SUNY Fredonia alumnus Dr. John Baust, and Senior Class President Mary Holland, a native of Manlius, N.Y., who graduated Magna Cum Laude during the morning ceremony with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.

President Hefner welcomed all those in attendance by stating, “Today is indeed a special day. For most graduates and their families, today’s Commencement represents the culmination of many years of diligence and effort. It is truly a once-in-a lifetime event, long to be remembered.

“As Fredonia alums, you will have opportunities to advocate for public higher education, and for the education provided by SUNY campuses to the citizens of this state,” Dr. Hefner continued. “Your advocacy and collective support must be clear and constant. In that way, your Fredonia degree will remain impressive to future generations of students who will follow in your footsteps. Together, we can ensure that the State of New York remains unwavering in its commitment to a world class higher education system that is accessible to all its citizens.” 

Dr. John Baust, '65, a renowned cryobiologist, gave the 2010 keynote address.

Dr. Baust is one of the world’s leading researchers in cryobiology and cryomedicine. He graduated from SUNY Fredonia in 1965 with a degree in Biology and is a professor of biological sciences and director of the Institute for Biomedical Technology at Binghamton University. Also an entrepreneur, he has founded a number of companies including BioLife Solutions, which develops, manufactures and markets solutions for the cryopreservation of cells, tissues and organs.

In his address, Dr. Baust encouraged the graduates, noting, “We have all heard the adage that ‘Life is a journey and not a race.’ I maintain that it is an upward journey with many ups and downs, but it always moves forward on an incline built on the strengths of your past experiences. Today, you have climbed to a new plateau and you should take a few moments to embrace the view as you prepare to climb that next hill which will be no less steep than those you have climbed. But fear not, for you are well prepared.  Each of you has been endowed with a talent whether by Nature, good fortune or a Superior Presence in our universe. It is this talent forged, sculpted and molded by an incredibility dedicated faculty, by friendship and by family, that now allows you to continue your journey during which you will begin to gain an understanding of your personal endowment.”

Dr. Baust related a life-changing experience from his early years as a scientist, working with a Fredonia faculty member at a scientific research station in Trinidad and mixing with other scientists from large research universities, yet being able to hold his own and contribute. He told the graduates, “You have the tools to forge ahead with the best. Shoulder to shoulder and even ahead of the pack. Hopefully, you have the courage, the fortitude and integrity to journey forth.”

He continued, “At Fredonia you gained a gift — a gift beyond knowledge. Whatever your major, you acquired the gift of how to learn, how to question, how to interpret, and how to uncover meaning that might otherwise be overlooked."

Senior Class President Mary E. Holland of Manlius, N.Y., addressed the many family, faculty and friends of the Class of 2010 in the audience with a personal reflection as well. As one of 20 Fredonia students who lost her home and belongings during a fire in early April, she took a moment to pay tribute to the university and community. “The Fredonia community of students, faculty and administrators came together in such a huge wave of support, both emotionally and financially. All of SUNY Fredonia, friends and strangers, came forward to support us all in every way possible,” she noted.

Ms. Holland also encouraged her classmates noting, “No matter where you go, remember what you learned here, not only in the classroom but outside. Remember the people who shaped who you are today. We all have the potential to be great. Now it’s time to prove it.”

Following Ms. Holland’s remarks, she presented President Hefner with a plaque that will be displayed near a fountain to be located between Reed Library and Mason Hall, which was funded in part by the Class of 2010’s Senior Challenge Gift.

At the morning ceremony, President Hefner presented the Lanford Presidential Prize, established through the Fredonia College Foundation by Dr. and Mrs. Oscar Lanford, to John R. Gradel of Endicott, N.Y., who graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Studies Adolescence Education with a second major in History. In the afternoon, Julie M. Graham of Elmira, N.Y., who graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and minor in Chemistry, also received the Lanford Prize. The late Dr. Lanford served as Fredonia's ninth president from 1961 to 1971, and was essentially the builder, both physically and intellectually, of the modern Fredonia campus. This annual prize is presented to students who show balanced achievement both on- and off-campus, and who exemplify Fredonia’s ideals, while maintaining a strong grade point average.

Student performances were also given by SUNY Fredonia’s Wind Ensemble and Wind Symphony, under the direction of Dr. Paula Holcomb, and the Fredonia College Choir, under the direction of Dr. Gerald Gray. The national anthem was performed at both ceremonies by Claudia Ceaton Feeney of Mastic, N.Y., a Music Education major.

posted @ Tuesday, August 31, 2010 1:35 PM by Christine Davis Mantai

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