AU Press Releases

Governor to deliver Alfred University's commencement address

Gov. David A. Paterson will deliver the address at Alfred University’s annual commencement at 10 a.m. May 16 in McLane Center.

“We are honored Gov. Paterson accepted our invitation to speak to our graduates and to receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Alfred University,” said President Charles M. Edmondson.

The University will recognize Paterson as someone who has broken barriers, personally and professionally, as the first African-American and the first legally blind person to serve as New York’s governor. “Time and again throughout his more than 20 years’ service to this state, Gov. Paterson has achieved a number of significant ‘firsts,’ some requiring a great deal of personal courage. In doing so, however, he has made it easier for others to follow.”

Paterson, 53, has been New York’s governor for just over a year; as lieutenant governor, he succeeded Eliot Spitzer, who resigned March 17, 2008. He won accolades – and few friends – for calling attention early on to the worsening financial situation in the state as revenues from Wall Street firms began to plummet. Acting with the Legislature, he cut $3 billion from an already-adopted budget in August, and has made substantial cuts in a wide range of programs in his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

He was 31 when he was elected to the New York State Senate from Harlem, becoming the youngest Senator to serve in the Legislature at that time. In 2003, he was elected by his peers as Senate Minority Leader, becoming the first non-white legislative leader in New York’s history.

His official biography ( says that in 2004, when he addressed the Democratic National Convention, he was the first visually impaired person to do so.

Paterson’s agenda as lieutenant governor included what he has called “crucial issues” for New York: a $600 million stem cell research initiative; a statewide renewable energy strategy that focuses on solar and wind power; programs to curb domestic violence and help its victims; and a focus on women- and minority-owned businesses.

He serves as a member of the Democratic National Committee and as a board member of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.
Additionally, Paterson is recognized as an advocate for the visually and physically impaired.

Born in Brooklyn, Paterson earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Columbia University in 1977, and completed a J.D. degree at Hofstra Law School in 1982.

He is the son of Basil Paterson, the first non-white Secretary of State in New York, and Portia Paterson. The governor and his wife, Michelle Paige Paterson, are the parents of two children, Ashley and Alex.