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AIG leader tells Alfred University Class of 2013 to be flexible and seize the available opportunities
5/18/13

Peter Cuneo, Robert Benmosche, Charles Edmondson

Peter Cuneo, Robert Benmosche, Charles Edmondson

With a vision in mind, “deal with the hand that’s been dealt you,” Robert H. Benmosche, CEO of American International Group Incorporated (AIG), told members of the Alfred University (AU) Class of 2013 Saturday morning.      

Benmosche, AU ’66 and former University trustee, knows it “may be a tough hand, but adjustable.” He noted “the economy is stronger than you think” and urged the graduates to go forward with a “sense of optimism.”  Known for his penchant for turning a company around, Benmosche is credited with rescuing MetLife and taking it public, then coming out of retirement to lead AIG back to solvency after the crisis of 2008.

The journey starts with a vision based on the gift of education and “what you love to do,” said Benmosche, but within the confines of today’s economy, graduates must also “be practical … think about what opportunities are there” and “be flexible.” There will be an opportunity, he assured them, but it “may be the only one to come your way, so, in the words of Yogi Berra (former major league catcher known for his quips) “if you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

            “If something’s there, don’t sit … don’t wait for something else. Keep active and engaged. You can’t always get what you want, take that fork.”

More than 350 undergraduate, master’s, advanced studies certificate, and doctoral candidates (including those who earned degrees in August and December 2012) were awarded Alfred University degrees during exercises in the McLane Center on campus. Presiding over the festivities was Dr. Charles M. Edmondson, Alfred University president.

Five graduating undergraduates were recognized during the Commencement exercises for achieving top honors in their areas of study, one with a perfect 4.0 grade point average (GPA). They were part of the official stage party and seated on the Commencement platform.

Graduating with a 4.0 GPA in early childhood/childhood education was Katy Jane Mormino of Alfred. She is a daughter of Tony and Dawn Mormino and a graduate of Alfred-Almond Central School.

Samuel Aaron Miller, a materials science and engineering major from Kinsman, Ohio representing the Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering, earned a 3.97 GPA. Miller is also the 2013 Marlin Miller Outstanding Male Senior. He is the son of Aaron and Melissa Miller and a graduate of Badger High School.

Brighid Lucille Connors, an art and design major from Snyder, carries a 3.96 GPA representing the School of Art and Design. She is a daughter of Kevin and Paula Connors and a graduate of Amherst Central High School.

At the top of their class in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with matching GPAs of 3.94 are Renee Frances Duquette, a mathematics major from Churchville, and Charlotte Diane Milia, a biology major from Corning. Duquette is a daughter of David and Kimberly Duquette and a graduate of Churchville-Chili High School. Milia is a graduate of Gresham (OR) Union High School.

Leading the procession of five doctoral, 68 master’s, 20 advanced studies certificates, and 265 bachelor’s degree candidates, faculty, University administrators, and members of the Board of Trustees was Dr. Addison E. Frey, associate professor of mathematics, serving as grand marshal. The assembly processed and recessed to music provided by the Alfred University Symphonic Band under the direction of Dr. Christopher Foster, assistant professor of music and director of bands.

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

Prior to Benmosche’s remarks, the University bestowed an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa on Peter Cuneo, a 1967 alumnus who is completing his second three-year term as chairman of the AU Board of Trustees. Like Benmosche, Cuneo is regarded as a rescuer of failing corporations, including Marvel Comics, which he took from a struggling publisher of comic books to an entertainment company worth billions. Gene Bernstein ’69, a member of the Board of Trustees and chairman emeritus, made the presentation and performed the hooding.

Benmosche was also awarded an honorary degree, a Doctor of Business, honoris causa, presented by Robert McComsey ’66,  chairman emeritus of the AU Board of Trustees.

Following Benmosche’s address and the conferment of the master’s degrees by Dr. Nancy Evangelista, associate provost for graduate and professional studies, the 2013 Marlin Miller Outstanding Seniors - Jordyn T’Keyah Larkins of Rochester, a communication study and Spanish major, and Miller offered their thoughts upon leaving Alfred. They were introduced by Kathy Woughter, vice president for Student Affairs. The senior awards are named for Marlin Miller, AU class of 1954, a current member and former chair of the University Board of Trustees.

Dr. William M. Hall, provost and vice president for academic affairs, recognized outstanding scholars prior to the awarding of the baccalaureate degrees conferred by Dr. Mary McGee, dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Leslie Bellavance, dean, School of Art & Design; Dr. Doreen Edwards, dean, Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering; and Evangelista, dean, College of Professional Studies.

Prior to concluding remarks by Edmondson, Bradley Berwald, AU class of 2000, president of the Alfred University Alumni Association, inducted the newest members into the organization.

The ceremonies concluded with a rendition of the Alma Mater by members of the University Chamber Singers, under the direction of Dr. LuAnne Crosby, and the benediction by DeMott.

A number of faculty members served as Commencement marshals, including Dr. Wesley Bentz, professor emeritus of chemistry; Dr. Frederic Beaudry, assistant professor of environmental science; Dr. M. Hope Childers, assistant professor of art history; Dr. Elizabeth Ann Dobie, professor of art theory; Frank Duserick, Kruson Distinguished Professor of Business; Dr. Juliana Gray, associate professor of English; Dr. Theresa Gunn, assistant professor of accountancy; Dr. Scott T. Misture, Inamori Professor of Materials Science and Engineering; Dr. Ann P. Monroe-Baillargeon , professor of education; Susan P. Morehouse, professor of English;  Dr. Steven Pilgrim, professor of materials science and engineering; Angus M. Powers, associate professor of glass; Dr. Joseph W. Rosiczkowski, professor of mechanical engineering; Dr. Jeffrey Sluyter-Beltrao, associate professor of political science; Dr. G. David Toot, professor of physics; and Kelly Williams, clinical instructor of education.