Hartwick Class of 2016 Celebrates Transition at Commencement
Saturday, May 21 marked the turning of a page for the members of the Hartwick College Class of 2016. 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 on Oyaron Hill.
As the sun peeked through morning clouds, 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 Celtic Pipes and Drums had led the celebratory march of 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 William Schultz ’16 and Francis D. Landrey P’06, chair of the Hartwick Board of Trustees, extended their congratulations to the graduates.
“We are being provided an awesome opportunity and the ultimate responsibility to fix our world as best we can. We stand here at the summit of our undergraduate career. We stand here together having reached the summit of this hill,” Schultz said to his classmates.
“We now go on to face the challenges of our community, our nation, and our world,” he continued. “We can either stand together as we are today or we can falter, divided by the forces of failure.
We shall use our educations to rise above, and to become the change
we want to see in the world.”
“To the Class of 2016, 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 Lauren O’Brien ’16 with the Abraham L. Kellogg Oratorical Prize. Faculty deemed O’Brien the best orator among those seniors who gave Baccalaureate speeches on Friday evening.
After a performance of Alfred Reed’s A Festive Overture 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 2016 Bunn Award recipient, Tannenbaum said, is Professor and Chair of English Dr. Susan Navarette.
“Colleagues have described Susan as ‘first and foremost, a teacher of high caliber, amazing energy, and great intellectual scope. She inspires students. She wows them’.” Tannenbaum said. “She teaches students to dig deeply into both the literature and its cultural background, whether it be the artistic
production of the 1890s in England or a single work by Dickens.”
Retaking the podium, Drugovich presented the President’s Award For Liberal Arts in Practice to Captain Joan E. Darrah ’73, PA’16, United States Navy, Retired. After a distinguished and groundbreaking career in the Navy, Darrah was a tireless advocate for the successful repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, which prohibited qualified gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the Armed Forces.
“Today the Hartwick community honors you for your commitment to defending and upholding the values upon which these United States were founded,” she said, “and for your efforts to ensure that there is ‘Liberty and Justice for All’.”
Drugovich then presented an Honorary Doctor of Letters to William E. Lewis H’16, Hartwick College Trustee Emeritus, former President and Owner of the Oneonta Grocery Company, an Oneonta community leader, and a philanthropist at the helm of the Eggleston Foundation.
“The history of Hartwick College and Oneonta are inextricably linked. You have shown your appreciation for this by continuing your family’s legacy of caring for and about this
community and this College,” Drugovich said.
Awards conferred, the Hartwick College Chamber Choir offered a stirring rendition of Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor before Drugovich introduced Ambassador of the United States of America George C. Bruno ’64, H’96, PA’11, Retired, who would address the Class of 2016 on the occasion of their graduation.
A member of the Hartwick College Class of 1964, Bruno is an attorney with experience as a lawyer and diplomat in more than 50 countries. As a young lawyer, he served as a volunteer aide to Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and worked on civil rights and anti-poverty cases. At the age of 29 he argued and won a landmark case before the U.S. Supreme Court. He has served as Assistant Director of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys in the Department of Justice, a Senior Advisor to the Army’s international office, and with NATO Allies and partners in Eastern Europe to establish cooperation and strengthen democracy in the region. He has been active and influential in New Hampshire politics, having served on several presidential campaigns, including those of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Clinton’s Ambassador to Belize from 1994 to 1997, he now manages LawServe, a global immigration law firm, and is a principal in USA Group International, providing consulting services to individuals, governments, and private businesses.
Bruno began his address noting his own history as a Hartwick College student.
“It has been many years since I sat where you are now,” he told the Class, “but I can still remember the anticipation and excitement of this moment, combined with this beautiful Oyaron Hill setting. Class of 2016, congratulations on your success. You did it!
“With the skills and knowledge you have acquired over the past four years, you have both the responsibility and ability to begin anew, and to continue to make ours a better world,” Bruno said. “Do not submit to apathy or disenfranchisement. America needs you. The world needs you.
“Throughout my education, career, and public life, I never considered myself to be the smartest person in the room,” Bruno concluded. “What I considered my big advantages in life were the encouragement of family and friends, my determination to persist, to have goals, to never give up, to always exceed expectations, and to be willing to work harder than anyone else.
“And through it all, my education at Hartwick has been a strong foundation. It was a formula that worked for me, and it can work for you too. Now go forth proudly and achieve your goals. You’ve earned it. Congratulations, Hartwick Class of 2016.”
At the conclusion of his remarks, Hartwick’s Not So Sharp a capella ensemble performed Give Me Love by Ed Sheeran.
Tannenbaum then presented the Class of 2016 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 their assembled friends and family.
Once each graduate had been recognized, Scott Holdren ’80, Trustee and Hartwick College Alumni Association Board of Directors President, welcomed the new alumni to the 18,000-strong body. Each graduate was presented with a replica of the Hartwick Bell by the alumni association. A tradition which, Holdren said, provides a tangible connection to Oyaron Hill.
“All Hartwick alumni are united through this symbol,” he said. “When you look to your Hartwick Commencement Bell in years to come, I hope you will look back to your time here as fondly as I still 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. They were joined in celebration by the families of Stephen Lyden and Dante Crump, who rang bells on behalf of their sons, members of the Class of 2016 who passed away.
“Members of the Class of 2016, now you leave Hartwick an educated person,” Drugovich said in her closing remarks. “You may have traveled across the world. You may have done a remarkable thing or two. You have probably learned more than you expected and perhaps you’ve learned more than you thought possible.
“It is my hope that what you have learned best is how to learn from others, for no pinnacle moment 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 helped the graduates achieve this important milestone.
The ceremony closed with a rendition of the Alma Mater, Oyaron, Hill of Dreams by mezzo-soprano Alyssa Lundberg ’16, tenor James Canal ’16, and the Hartwick College Wind Ensemble conducted by Jessica Thomas ’16. 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.