News & Events

Hartwick Commencement Means New Adventures, Opportunities for Grads

May 23, 2009

The morning of May 23, 2009 was a spectacular one high atop Oyaron Hill, particularly for the 322 members of the Hartwick College Class of 2009, their families, and the faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and peers who helped them toward the culmination of their undergraduate experience.

Nearly 4,000 people convened under the tent on Elmore Field to celebrate their accomplishments, to watch them receive their degrees, to take part in their final ceremony as undergraduate students--and their first as Hartwick College alumni.

The celebration began as all such Hartwick gatherings do, when President Dr. Margaret L. Drugovich held aloft the Hartwick Bell and declared with an enthusiastic ring, "The company of scholars has assembled, let the ceremonies begin!"

Following an invocation from College Chaplain Lawrence Curran and a performance of America by the Hartwick College Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Mariel Glover '10, Student Senate President Nicholas Forst '09 and James Elting, M.D., Chair-Elect of the Hartwick Board of Trustees, extended their congratulations to the graduates.

"One must realize how truly special this Hartwick experience is," Forst said. "After four years of crafting that experience, today we are graduating. Thank you, Class of 2009. I have never known a greater group of people, finer friends, and more valued colleagues. Let us begin our next adventure by walking across this stage together."

"Class of 2009," Elting said, "welcome to the alumni body. Have a great day--this is yours."

Hartwick Faculty Chair and Professor of English Dr. Kim Noling presented Benjamin Crosby '09 with the Abraham L. Kellogg Oratorical Prize. Faculty deemed him the best of four seniors--including Sandra Armakovitch '09, Samuel Roods '09, and Forst--who gave Baccalaureate speeches on Friday evening at the First United Methodist Church in Oneonta. Professor of Business Administration John Clemens was selected by the Class of 2009 to be the faculty speaker at Baccalaureate.

After a lively performance of a Suite of Old American Dances performed by the Wind Ensemble, Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Gerald Hunsberger took the podium to present the Margaret B. Bunn Award for Outstanding Teaching. The annual award is presented to the faculty member judged by students who graduated five years earlier to have been the most outstanding teacher with whom they studied.

The 2009 Bunn Award recipient, Hunsberger announced, is Associate Professor of Biology Mary Allen. Since coming to Hartwick in 1997, he noted, her study of microbiology has examined "the bugs we cannot easily see."

"[Allen] creates lasting connections with her students while she teaches them," Hunsberger said. "As her department chair has noted, 'Mary is a cool teacher.'"

In retaking the podium, Drugovich noted that in an earlier ceremony she presented the President's Medal for Extraordinary and Exemplary Loyalty to the College to Gordon B. Roberts '47, H'97.

Roberts, who became a successful Oneonta businessman after graduating from Hartwick, "has spent 62 years in service to Hartwick College," Drugovich noted.

She then invited the day's keynote speaker, Cyrus Mehri '83, to the podium. Mehri has served as class counsel in some of the largest race and gender class-action lawsuits in U.S. history, including those against Texaco Inc., The Coca-Cola Company, and Morgan Stanley. These led to multimillion-dollar settlements that included sweeping reforms of pay and promotions policies.

Recognized among fellow professionals and the public alike, Mehri has been praised by The New York Times, which said his "vision for corporate America involves sweeping change, not the piece-meal kind." Fast Company called him "a one-man army in the battle against business as usual."

"Class of 2009," Mehri began, "let me invite you to celebrate your accomplishments. With the support of your family and friends you have made a steady climb here to the top of Oyaron Hill, soaking up the lessons of dedicated faculty and staff to prepare yourselves for the years ahead."

Mehri noted that the country is at "a turning point," and while career opportunities may be scarcer for the Class of 2009 than previous generations of Hartwick graduates, therein lies great opportunity.

"You have the opportunity to create positive change for yourself and others," he said. "An era that sacrificed America's future is being replaced by an era that is building America's future and, Class of 2009, you are at the forefront of this great moment. Your pursuit of truth at Hartwick College will serve you well in this new era of responsibility."

As the applause for Mehri faded, Hartwick's a cappella ensemble, Not So Sharp, performed "Goodbye to Yesterday." Their efforts were a hit with the large crowd, which spontaneously began to clap along in rhythm, filling the gala tent with musical energy.

It was a penultimate moment, as to the delight of all those present, Hunsberger presented the Class of 2009, and Drugovich conferred degrees upon the candidates. As each left the stage, Director of Alumni Relations Duncan Macdonald '78 presented seniors with a replica of the Hartwick Bell. The gift from the Alumni Association symbolized the new graduates' induction into the vast community of Hartwick alumni and is a reminder of the impact the institution has had on their lives.

Nancy Romeo '78, President of the Hartwick College Alumni Association, welcomed the freshly minted graduates to the 15,000-strong body.

"Today every one of you leaves Hartwick to enter another stage of your life," she said, "but the foundation you built and Hartwick will always be a part of your life."

She led the class in a ceremonial ringing of their bells, and the tent filled with the joyous noise of the new alumni.

Sahara Gay '09 presented the class gift, some $2,843 all told, to establish the Class of 2009 Scholarship, which henceforth will be presented to a deserving student based on need.

In her closing remarks, Drugovich said, "you leave Hartwick an educated woman; an educated man. You have done many remarkable things, and made the most of the experience-enhanced liberal arts education that is the hallmark of Hartwick College."

She led the class in thanking both their parents and their faculty, noting that "as they have opened the door to your understanding, they have set you free."

Following the Wind Ensemble's performance of the Alma Mater, "Oyaron, Hill of Dreams," the graduates left the expansive tent behind the celebratory march of the Broom County Celtic Pipes and Drums, proceeding into the May sunshine and the waiting arms of their proud families, and toward their bright futures as Hartwick College alumni.

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,480 students, located in Oneonta, NY in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive Liberal Arts in Practice curriculum merges traditional liberal arts study, personalized teaching, and experiential learning approaches to emphasize Connecting the Classroom to the World. Add to that a wide range of off-campus internships, collaborative research, study-abroad opportunities, and a unique January Term, and Hartwick prepares students for the world ahead. Strong financial aid and scholarship programs keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Christopher Lott
Phone: 607-431-4030