Commencement Ceremony Makes Alumni of Hartwick Class of 2015

President Drugovich at Commencement 2015Saturday, May 23 was the summit of a uniquely transformative experience for the members of the Hartwick College Class of 2015. Their parents, families, friends, and College faculty and staff gathered under the gala tent on Elmore Field to celebrate, as the members of the Class made the transition from students to alumni in the culmination of their time at Hartwick.

As a cool morning turned to a crystal clear upstate New York afternoon, thousands convened high atop Oyaron Hill to celebrate the students’ accomplishments, to watch them receive their degrees, and to take part in this celebration of change.

When the Broome County Pipes and Drums had led the graduates, faculty, and staff into the flag-festooned tent, the gala event began like all such Hartwick gatherings. Dr. Margaret L. Drugovich P’12, Hartwick College president, held aloft the Hartwick Bell and declared with an enthusiastic ring, “The company of scholars is assembled, let the ceremonies begin!”

Following a performance of The Star Spangled Banner by the Hartwick College Chamber Choir, Student Senate President Katie Anne Meuer ’15 and Francis D. Landrey P’06, chair of the Hartwick Board of Trustees, extended their congratulations to the graduates.

“I know I will forever be grateful for all that my class and this amazing institution have given me, and I hope that you all agree,” Meuer said to her classmates. “Now go out, do great things, and share what you have learned in your time here with others, for they are valuable lessons that should not be forgotten. Congratulations to each and every one of the members of the Class of 2015 for being exactly who you are right now, and for all you have yet to become.”

“To the Class of 2015, enjoy this day,” Landrey said. “You have studied hard. You have been inspired not only by your professors, but also your fellow students who have accompanied you on your Hartwick journey. Cherish and maintain those friendships as you move on beyond Oyaron Hill. Celebrate today, because you have earned it.”

Hartwick Faculty Chair and Associate Professor of Anthropology Dr. Jason Antrosio presented Kalindi Naslund ’15 with the Abraham L. Kellogg Oratorical Prize. Faculty deemed Naslund the best orator among those seniors who gave Baccalaureate speeches on Friday evening at Foothills Performing Arts & Civic Center in Oneonta.

After a performance of Sir Malcolm Arnold’s Siciliano by the Hartwick College Wind Ensemble, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Michael Tannenbaum P’14 took the podium to announce the Margaret B. Bunn Award for Outstanding Teaching.

The annual award is presented to the faculty member judged by students who graduated five years prior to have been the most outstanding teacher with whom they studied. The 2015 Bunn Award recipient, Tannenbaum said, is Professor of History Dr. Edythe Ann Quinn.

“After earning her Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee, Dr. Quinn joined the Hartwick faculty in 1995,” Tannenbaum said. “Her expertise is in 20th Century American History, and her courses include, among many others, ‘The Civil Rights Movement, The Vietnam War, and the Sixties.’ Many of these courses include an emphasis on social justice, and help students understand not only that many of the freedoms they enjoy today are based upon activism in the recent past, but also how they can actively participate in their communities to effect change.”

Stephen L. Green delivers the Commencement Address

Retaking the podium, Drugovich presented an honorary Doctor of Letters to Trustee Emerita Joyce Chesebro Buckingham H’15.

“The names ‘Chesebro’ and ‘Buckingham’ are iconic in this community,” she said, “Your commitment to the Hartwick College educational experience and, indeed, to the value of education wherever it can happen, is an inspiration to all who know you.”

Drugovich then presented an Honorary Doctor of Laws to Stephen L. Green ’59, PM’05, H’15, Founder and Chairman of SL Green Realty Corp., New York City’s largest commercial office property owner.

“Your path from Oyaron Hill to Manhattan’s heights serves as an inspiration to all of us,” Drugovich said. “Your dedication to your community reminds us of our duty to do good even as we do well. Your commitment to Hartwick College students communicates to others your belief in the enduring power of this transformational place.”

Finally, Drugovich bestowed an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters upon renowned singer, actress, and educator Marni Nixon H’15.

“Your students assure the enduring nature of your legacy as they themselves occupy stages, recording studios, and concert halls worldwide,” she said of Nixon. “You have helped to assure the future of music in our lives, Marni. We are grateful.”

Honorary degree presentation

Honorary degrees conferred, the Hartwick College Chamber Choir offered a stirring rendition of America the Beautiful before Drugovich introduced Green, who would address the Class of 2015 on the occasion of their graduation.

A member of the Hartwick College Class of 1959, Stephen L. Green is the Founder and Chairman of SL Green Realty Corp., New York City’s largest commercial office landlord and a member of the S&P 500 with an enterprise value of more than $23 billion. SL Green focuses primarily on acquiring, managing, and maximizing the value of office, retail, and residential properties in Manhattan. In addition to its Manhattan investments, which encompass 101 buildings totaling 42.4 million square feet, SL Green holds ownership interests in 35 suburban buildings totaling 5.9 million square feet in Brooklyn, Long Island, Westchester County, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

He began his address to the Class of 2015 noting his own graduation from Hartwick occurred “some 56 years ago.”

“I have wonderful memories of Hartwick, although my grades were fair at best,” he told the assembled crowd. “Hartwick was my bridge from my reckless teenage years to becoming a responsible young adult. Most importantly, I learned how to live and function on my own. It was an unbelievably valuable lesson.

“I want to congratulate you guys and girls out there, the soon-to-be-famous Class of 2015,” Green continued. “My guess is that many, probably most of you, will wake up tomorrow morning … and ask yourself ‘what do I do now? How will I support myself? What type of career should I pursue? How will I pay my bills? What’s going to make me happy?'”

Discussing the ups and downs of his remarkably successful career, Green offered his best advice to the Class of 2015.

Graduate on stage

“Based upon my own observations and my turning points, here is what I’ve learned, not from Googling it, but by living it. I hope all of you will remember these lessons,” Green concluded. “Do something that fits your personality and character. Be alert to unlikely events that can lead to enormous opportunity. As a salaried employee, make yourself indispensable. And when failure comes, just get out of bed and focus on what you need to do that very day.

“So, to the Class of 2015, who are about to start an amazing journey called life, I raise a symbolic glass to all of you and wish you good luck.”

The full text of Green’s address is available online. At the conclusion of his remarks, Hartwick’s Not So Sharp a capella ensemble performed Pompeii by Bastille.

Tannenbaum then presented the Class of 2015 to the crowd. In the central moment of the ceremony, the graduates were bestowed with the Hartwick undergraduate hood, and greeted by Drugovich, much to the delight of the graduates and their assembled friends and family.

Neal Miller ’72, Trustee and Hartwick College Alumni Association Board of Directors President, welcomed the new alumni to the 17,500-strong body. Each graduate was presented with a replica of the Hartwick Bell by the alumni association. A tradition which, Miller said, provides a tangible connection to Oyaron Hill.Graduate ringing bell

“This is your piece of Hartwick College. Take it home. Cherish it,” he said. “When you look to your Hartwick Commencement Bell in years to come, I hope you will remember your time here as fondly as I do.”

As he led the class in a ceremonial ringing of their replica bells, the tent filled with the joyous noise of the new alumni and their proud families.

“Members of the Class of 2015, you leave Hartwick an educated woman, an educated man,” Drugovich said in her closing remarks. “You may have travelled across the world. You may have done a remarkable thing or two. You have probably learned more than you expected and perhaps more than you thought possible.

New graduate and friends

“It is my hope that what you have learned best is how to learn from others, for no pinnacle moment in our lives is ours alone. This moment also belongs to those who cared for and nurtured you through to this day,” she continued, leading the class in thanking both their families and their faculty and staff, noting that all had helped the graduates achieve this important milestone.

Following a performance of the Alma Mater, Oyaron, Hill of Dreams, by the Hartwick College Wind Ensemble and mezzo-soprano Emma Rose Jorgensen ’15 conducted by James Patrick Behret ’15, the graduates left the expansive tent behind the celebratory march of the Broome County Celtic Pipes and Drums, proceeding into the waiting arms of their proud families, toward their bright futures as Hartwick College alumni.

Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,500 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick’s expansive curriculum emphasizes an experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a distinctive January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for not just their first jobs, but for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact:     David Lubell
Phone:        607-431-4031

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