AU Press Releases

Governor urges Alfred University graduates: 'Stay in New York, work along with us'

Their future is “right here in New York State,” Governor David A. Paterson told the 490 graduates of Alfred University who received their degrees this morning during AU’s annual commencement.

Paterson delivered the commencement address and received a Doctor of Humane Laws degree, honoris causa.

“One thing you need to do is stay right here in New York State and work along with us,” the governor said. Acknowledging the difficult financial conditions under which they are graduating, worse in some respects than the Great Depression 80 years ago, Paterson assured the graduates New York’s leadership in science and technology, along with its intellectual power and its workforce, put it in position to “once again lead the country and the world.

“The wave of the future is right here in New York State,” Paterson declared, citing state initiatives, including those to develop renewable clean energy, as helping to create the future. He estimated the energy initiative could produce as many as 50,000 new jobs in the next few years.

“If you’re looking to relocate, think twice,” said Paterson, who received a standing ovation from an estimated crowd of more than 3,000 in the McLane Center.

In presenting Paterson for his honorary degree, Dr. Gene Bernstein, chairman emeritus of Alfred University’s Board of Trustees and a 1969 alumnus of Alfred University, cited his courage in dealing with the state’s current financial crisis during which he has “taken a stand he knows will make him unpopular, often with those who ardently supported him in the past. He has taken on new issues, too, promoting environmental measures and addressing the very real concerns caused by childhood obesity, not because they garner votes, but because they are, like so many of his initiatives, the right thing to do for the state.”

President Charles M. Edmondson pointed out Paterson becomes part of a tradition that goes back more than 80 years, becoming the fifth New York Sate governor to receive an honorary degree from Alfred.

“What we also want to recognize today is that by honoring Governor Paterson, we are also celebrating a tradition that goes back more than 80 years, to 1928, when Alfred University presented a honorary degree to Governor Frank W. Higgins. Through the years, we’ve honored others, including Governors Herbert Lehman, William Harriman and Thomas Dewey," said Edmondson.

Student speakers were this year’s recipients of the Marlin Miller Outstanding Senor Awards: Callie Rimmel of Allison Park, PA, and Nicholas Garofoli of Plainsboro, NJ. Each earned a bachelor of fine arts from the School of Art & Design. Rimmel minored in psychology, and Garofoli earned a second degree, a B.A. in philosophy.

Rimmel recalled entering Alfred as a “shy, nervous and very homesick freshman.” The “unique and special nature of Alfred University… celebrates the individual, but connects us all together…. I came here as an individual, and I am leaving as a member of a community.”

Garofoli acknowledged both the joy and the trepidation about their future the graduates are experiencing. But fear, he assured them, can “ultimately be a positive value,” one that motivates and spurs people to take action. As freshmen “fear brought us together and gave us common ground,” he reminded his classmates.

Repeating Rimmel’s sentiments, Garofoli said “Alfred University is unique. It celebrates the individual, and still connects us all together… As members of the AU community, we have learned not to be afraid.”

One undergraduate distinguished herself by earning a perfect 4.0 grade point average (GPA). She is Chelsea Rebecca Heinz of Cuba, who is receiving a bachelor of arts degree in psychology, School of Liberal Arts & Sciences. She is a daughter of Craig and Theresa Heinz of Cuba and a graduate of Olean High School.

Joining Heinz in earning top honors in their respective schools/colleges of study are:

Samuel Levi Newman of Lewis Center, Ohio, bachelor of fine arts degree in art and design, School of Art & Design, 3.91. He is a son of Robert Newman and Linda Leviton and a graduate of Worthington Kilbourne High School.

Alex Daniel Weller of Flemington, NJ, a bachelor of science degree in biomedical materials engineering science, Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering, 3.93. He is a son of Steven and Shelly Weller and a graduate of Hunterdon Central Regional High School.

Amanda Marie Smith of Hornell, bachelor of science in accounting, College of Business, 3.97. She is a daughter of Steve and Denise Smith.

Members of the class of 2009 include one recipient of a Ph.D. degree in materials science and engineering; three recipients of doctor of psychology degrees in School Psychology; 173 master’s degree candidates (M.S.Ed., 117; M.F.A, 18; M.S., 8 engineering, 2 numeracy; M.A., 18; M.B.A., 10) and 313 undergraduates (B.A., 145; B.S. — athletic training, 6, business, 51, engineering, 39; B.F.A., 72).