AU Press Releases

Good to be a graduate of ‘this place,’ Pullman tells Alfred University class of ’11

University President Dr. Charles M. Edmondson presents Bill Pullman with an honorary degree

University President Dr. Charles M. Edmondson presents Bill Pullman with an honorary degree

Actor/director Bill Pullman told members of Alfred University’s Class of 2011 that whether they have been in Western New York for only four years, or whether they have lived here their entire life, “this place is imbedded in you.”

Pullman, himself a native Western New Yorker from Hornell, explained to the graduates and family, friends, faculty and administrators gathered for the celebration that we are all grounded in “place.”

Pullman, an AU trustee, was keynote speaker for the University’s Commencement celebration Saturday morning in the McLane Center on campus.

In his talk, "Sense of Place/ Sense of Purpose," he quoted Wendell Berry, American novelist/poet saying, “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” Alfred graduates know who they are, said Pullman, complimenting the open spirit, breadth of experiences, and opportunities that Alfred students share.

That shared sense of place, he said, will allow the Class of 2011 to go out and begin to solve many of the world’s problems. “Get out there and get with it.”

Prior to his talk, Pullman was awarded a Doctor of Fine Arts degree, honoris causa, presented by Peter Cuneo, chair of the Alfred University Board of Trustees.

University President Dr. Charles M. Edmondson presided over the Commencement convocation. Leading the processional of 10 doctoral, 169 master’s, and 307 bachelor’s degrees candidates was Susan Mayberry, professor of English. The Alfred University Symphonic Band under the direction of Christopher Foster, assistant professor of music and director of bands provided processional and recessional music.

Graduating senior Anna Kowalczuk, a theater major from Scarsdale, sung the National Anthem accompanied by the band.

The Rev. Laurie J. DeMott, interfaith adviser and minister of the Union University Church, Alfred, offered the invocation and benediction for the ceremony.

Following the conferment of the doctoral and master’s degrees by Nancy Evangelista, associate provost for graduate and professional studies and dean of the College of Business, the 2011 Marlin Miller Outstanding Seniors — Kacie Dean, an environmental studies major from Wilsonville, OR, and Zachary Grosser, a fine arts major from Painted Post — addressed fellow undergraduate classmates, following their introduction by Kathy Woughter, vice president for Student Affairs. The senior awards are named for Marlin Miller, AU class of 1954, a member and former chair of the University Board of Trustees.

Four graduating seniors were honored for their academic achievement.

At the top of the Class of 2011 and outstanding academic senior in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences was Sonrisa Ann Crespin, a history major from Burlington, NJ, who earned a 3.97 grade point average (GPA) out of a possible 4.0 during her four years at Alfred University. Crespin is a graduate of Burlington Township High School.

A daughter of David Crespin and Susan Elliott-Crespin, she earned a bachelor of arts degree. Crespin is also a granddaughter of former AU trustee, Frank Elliott, a member of the Class of 1949. Mr. Elliott served on the board from 1968-70, resigning after he became president of Rider College in New Jersey. A historian, Mr. Elliott received an honorary degree from Alfred University on Founder’s Day 1972.

Kaleb Von Berg earned a 3.94 and a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering. Von Berg, of Unadilla, is a son of Karl and Laura Von Berg and a graduate of Keystone National High School.

Brandi Elizabeth Scott of Avoca, majored in accounting and earned a 3.88 GPA in pursuit of a bachelor of science degree. Scott is a daughter of Stephen and Bonnie Scott and a graduate of Avoca Central School.

Tara Jacqueline Hagen, an art and design major from Rochester, earned a 3.83 GPA on her way to receiving a bachelor of fine arts degree. Hagen is a daughter of Fred and Susan Hagen and a graduate of School of the Arts, Rochester.

All four were seated on the Commencement platform and recognized during the ceremony.

Baccalaureate degrees were conferred by Mary McGee, dean, College of Liberal Arts &Sciences; Leslie Bellavance, dean, School of Art & Design; Doreen Edwards, dean, Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering; and Evangelista.

Michael Christakis, AU class of 1999, inducted the newest members into the Alumni Association.

Following President Edmondson’s concluding remarks, the Alfred University Chamber Singers, under the direction of Luanne Crosby, professor of voice and chorus, performed the Alma Mater.

A number of faculty members served as marshals for the ceremony. They included: Wesley Bentz, professor emeritus of chemistry; William Contino, assistant professor of print media; Elizabeth Ann Dobie, professor of art theory; Gerar Edizel, professor of art history; Addison E. Frey, associate professor of mathematics; Juliana Gray, assistant professor of English; Theresa Gunn, assistant professor of accountancy; Nicholas Kuder, assistant professor of graphic design; Nathan Mellott, assistant professor of materials science and engineering; Scott T. Misture, Inamori Professor of Materials Science and Engineering; Susan P. Morehouse, professor of English; Angus Powers, assistant professor of glass; Joseph W. Rosiczkowski, associate professor of mechanical engineering; Robert E. Stein, assistant professor of political science; Jeffrey Sluyter-Beltrao, assistant professor of political science; G. David Toot, professor of physics.