SUNY Cortland to hold four commencement ceremonies

Editor's Note: The following is a republished press release from SUNY Cortland.

SUNY Cortland’s continued success in educating historically high numbers of students means Commencement 2017 will again be held in four separate, indoor ceremonies on Friday, May 12, and Saturday, May 13.

All Commencement ceremonies will be held in the Bessie L. Park 1901 Physical Education and Recreation Center Alumni Arena.

The three undergraduate Commencement ceremonies will be held Saturday, May 13, at 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. The graduate ceremony will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, May 12.

An estimated total of 1,446 seniors — one of the largest graduating classes ever — will receive bachelor’s degrees during the undergraduate ceremonies. In all, nearly 1,654 seniors applied to graduate since August 2016.

Last year, 1,368 seniors walked at three separate undergraduate ceremonies.

The largest number of majors set to graduate in each of the three schools are: 143 business economics majors in the School of the Arts and Sciences, 141 exercise science majors in the School of Professional Studies and 68 early childhood and childhood education majors in the School of Education.

A total of 162 students are scheduled to graduate summa cum laude, the highest academic honor, with grade point averages of at least 3.75 on a scale of 4.0.

The College also will award 251 master’s degrees and 26 Certificates of Advanced Study.

“This ceremony signifies that our graduates reached the goal they set for themselves as new students on campus,” said SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum, who will preside over Commencement exercises. “Today we pause to mark this major milestone and wish them success as they build what we hope will be remarkable futures based on the firm foundation of their experience at SUNY Cortland.”

Therese Sullivan Caccavale ’75, an international leader in the field of early foreign language education and immersion who has helped shape the foreign language curricula of schools throughout the United States and beyond, will be honored posthumously during the morning ceremony with Peter Caccavale, her son, addressing the graduates. Scott A. Williams ’82, executive producer and lead writer for “NCIS” and co-founder of Shane’s Inspiration, an organization that promotes inclusion for children with disabilities that has built 64 inclusive playgrounds throughout the world, will address the graduates at the afternoon Commencement. Robert J. Spitzer, distinguished service professor and chair of the political science department, will address the graduates during the evening event. Caccavale and Williams each will be honored by SUNY during the ceremonies with a doctorate in humane letters.

During the third ceremony, Bitterbaum will present the Presidential Champion of Excellence Award to Sen. James Seward of the 51st Legislative District, a tireless advocate on behalf of the College.

Also during undergraduate Commencement, a faculty member, Professor of Health Bonni C. Hodges, will accept her promotion to the SUNY rank of Distinguished Service Professor during the morning and afternoon ceremonies. In addition, six SUNY Cortland faculty and staff members will receive the prestigious State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence during Commencement.

Theresa M. Curtis, associate professor of biological sciences, and Caroline K. Kaltefleiter, professor of communication studies, will earn the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Sherry Ellis, library clerk 3 in The Help Center, Memorial Library, will be recognized with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service. Lisi Krall, professor of economics, will be honored with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities. Lynn Couturier MacDonald, professor and chair of physical education, will accept the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service. Carol A. Van Der Karr, associate provost, academic affairs, will receive the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service.

A graduate student traditionally delivers the Commencement address during the graduate ceremonies. Tracy Frenyea, an academic advisor and coordinator of graduate student support in Advisement and Transition who is a candidate for Master of Science in Recreation with a Concentration in Therapeutic Recreation, will speak to classmates Friday evening.

The graduates were allowed to invite up to four guests to help them mark this important milestone in their lives. An estimated 7,200 guests of students — roughly the same as last year — are expected to attend.

Judy Wolfe ’84, president of the SUNY Cortland Alumni Association Board of Directors, will welcome these newest graduates into the ranks of the College’s alumni, who live in all 50 U.S. states and 45 countries. In its 149-year history, SUNY Cortland has graduated more than 76,000 alumni.

For additional information, visit the Overflow Locations and Webcast pages.

An Undergraduate Commencement reception will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 13, in Lusk Field House. The Graduate Commencement reception will take place immediately after the ceremony on Friday, May 12, in Park Center Corey Gymnasium. All students, guests, faculty and staff are invited to attend the receptions. Refreshments will be served.

Additional details about Commencement 2017 are available on the event’s website.

Specific questions can be directed to the College’s Special Events Office.

This article was prepared by SUNY Cortland Communications Office writing intern Alexandra Savini