AU Press Releases

Alfred University to award 90 master's degrees in downstate ceremony

Assemblyman Darryl C. Towns will address the graduates of Alfred University’s downstate programs at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 19, in the rotunda at Kingsborough Community College.

A total of 90 graduates, who earned their degrees by attending classes at Alfred’s downstate campuses, will receive their master’s degrees. Sixty-five will receive their degrees in counseling, and 25 will receive their degrees in literacy education.

In addition to delivering the commencement address, Towns will receive a Presidential Order of Merit from the University. Also receiving an Order of Merit during the ceremony will be Dr. James F. Dougherty, director of the Center for Integrated Teacher Education (CITE), who was instrumental in helping Alfred University launch its downstate programs.

“Asking Assemblyman Towns to be our commencement speaker was an easy decision,” said Alfred University President Charles M. Edmondson. “Throughout his career, first as director of community affairs at Brooklyn’s Interfaith Hospital and more recently as a member of the New York State Legislature, Mr. Towns has dedicated himself to making his community a better place to live.

“Our graduates, by choosing to earn degrees that advance their ability to help students achieve their goals, are demonstrating their commitment to the same goal: helping their communities by encouraging and inspiring young people,” Edmondson added.

This is the third class to complete its master’s degrees through Alfred University’s downstate program. Alfred University began offering master’s degrees in school counseling through CITE in fall 2006, and in literacy in the summer 2007.

Counseling students attend classes year-round for two years, including seven courses on the Alfred campus during their two summer sessions in the program. The literacy program is a one-year program during which the students attend three courses on campus and complete the rest of their coursework downstate.

The downstate programs are offered as satellites of the programs on campus, with courses located at sites in Brooklyn Heights and various locations on Long Island. Alfred University has a long history of offering Master of Science in Education degrees in counseling and literacy (formerly reading); the counseling program has been in existence for more than 50 years.

Born and raised in the district he now serves, Towns (D-AD 54, Brooklyn) was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1992. He has a reputation in his district and in Albany for working on behalf of his district to advance local commercial revitalization and community improvement projects, promote job creation, support youth and senior citizen programs and activities, and enhance the quality of education.

Towns spearheaded efforts to create the Bushwick Neighborhood Based Alliance – a coalition of community-based organizations, government agencies and community advocates working to improve local social and economic conditions.

The Brooklyn legislator has received numerous honors in recognition of his unwavering support and service to the community, including the PROGRESS Community Leadership Award, the East New York Development Corporation Community Service Award, and the New York City Housing Authority Outstanding Service Award. In recognition of his legislative efforts, he has also been presented with the Margaret Sanger Award and the 1997 Black Man of Distinction Award. He serves as a member of the Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center Advisory Board.

In 1997, the Kings County lawmaker was one of 45 candidates selected from a pool of 1,000 applicants to participate in the American Council of Young Political Leaders’ Foreign Study Program.

During his tenure in the State Assembly, Towns has championed a variety of measures. His ANCHOR Program legislation, which was unanimously supported in both houses of the State Legislature, will help bolster commercial revitalization in residential communities throughout the boroughs of New York City and support the increase of newly constructed housing developments. Towns is an avid supporter of the Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises and sponsored legislation for these contractors.

He chairs the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Banks and the New York State Black, Puerto Rican/Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus. He also serves on several Assembly Committees, including Economic Development, Health, and Mental Health. Additionally, he is an active member of the National Black Caucus for State Legislators, and a member of the New York State Assembly and Senate Hispanic/Puerto Rican Task Force.

A graduate of North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, Towns served in the United States Air Force. Prior to his election, he was the director of Community Affairs at Brooklyn's Interfaith Hospital.

The son of veteran Congressman Ed Towns, the Kings County lawmaker lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Karen Boykin-Towns, and their daughters, Jasmine and Trinity.

As director of CITE, Dougherty is responsible for directing programs of in-service, graduate and test preparation courses for teachers throughout the New York City area. He recruits staff, develops curricula, coordinates programs and works with colleges to provide learning opportunities for 6,000 New York City teachers, as well as more than 2,000 teachers from 90 Long Island school districts.

Through CITE and Dougherty’s efforts, Alfred University has conferred 214 master’s degrees since it began offering programs in Brooklyn and on Long Island in 2006. An additional 90 students will receive their degrees this month; an additional 99 students are currently enrolled in the programs, with more to enter this summer.

Prior to becoming CITE director in 1996, Dr. Dougherty was a secondary principal, 1987-96, and elementary principal, 1980-87, first in the Wantagh and then in the Syosset school districts.
From 1978-80, he served as deputy director for citywide testing for the New York City Board of Education. He began his career in education as an elementary and secondary teacher in public schools in Queens and in parochial schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Dougherty received his BA degree in social studies and education from St. Francis College in Brooklyn, which now hosts AU’s downstate programs. He holds a master’s degree in early childhood/elementary education from Long Island University, and a professional diploma in supervision and administration from Queens College. He earned a Ph.D. in educational administration from New York University.

His ability in the classroom, as well as his work as an administrator, have been recognized by Parent-Teacher Associations in the districts in which he worked. He received the Long Island Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development Award of Merit for his service as president and treasurer of that professional association. He also received an appreciation award from the Wantagh Board of Education for creating the district’s Gifted Program.