CUNY 2008 Commencements

The Hon. David A. Paterson, the former Lieutenant Governor and New York State Senate Minority Leader who became the first African-American governor of New York State in March 2008, and Dr. Paul Farmer, a physician renowned for his extraordinary work providing medical care for the world’s poorest populations, head an impressive list of distinguished public servants, physicians, journalists, artists, authors, business leaders, musicians, scientists, jurists, diplomats and scholars who are among the speakers and honorees at the 2008 commencement ceremonies at The City University of New York.

Governor Paterson will speak at Medgar Evers College, while Dr. Farmer, who will also receive an Honorary Doctor of Science degree, will deliver the commencement address at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Other speakers include Chris Matthews, award-winning broadcast journalist and host of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews and The Chris Matthews Show on NBC, at Hunter College; Peter Gelb, General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera, at the William E. Macaulay Honors College, where he will also receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree; John Hockenberry, a three-time Peabody Award winner, four-time Emmy award winner and Dateline NBC correspondent, at the CUNY Baccalaureate Program; Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz at New York City College of Technology; and Alma Guillermoprieto, an authority on Latin America, and the distinguished lawyer Alan M. Dershowitz, at Baruch College.

Chancellor Matthew Goldstein stated: “Once again, CUNY’s graduates have compiled an extraordinary record of accomplishment. The CUNY Class of 2008 is a source of enormous pride for all New Yorkers. They invigorate our society, paying taxes and making significant contributions to our city, state and the nation.”

CUNY estimates that more than 35,000 students will graduate in 2008, bringing the total number of degrees conferred by CUNY since 1966-67 to 1.1 million. Those totals reflect the breadth and depth of scholarship at CUNY at all levels, from doctoral and law degrees to master’s, bachelor’s and associate’s degrees. For example, the Class of 2008 includes thousands of graduates in the social sciences and the humanities as well as the first graduates from CUNY’s Online Baccalaureate Program in the School of Professional Studies. In 2006-07, the latest year for which complete data is available, CUNY awarded twice as many master’s degrees than in 1968-69 (7,574 compared to 3,588 in 1968-69), and nearly four times as many Business degrees at the baccalaureate level (4,423 compared to 1,150 in 1968-69).

Students Mary Pennisi, Carolina Leon, George Farnum and Georges Ndabashimiye exemplify the quality and diversity of today’s CUNY Graduates. Ms. Pennisi, a senior at the William E. Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College who is pursuing majors in political science and philosophy of law, founded a nonprofit coalition to help immigrant students. “I come from a family of immigrants,” says Pennisi, a future immigration lawyer whose family is from Italy. “I grew up in a household that had a different cultural perspective from the mainstream. That oriented me toward understanding the hardships that immigrants face.”

When Carolina Leon arrived in New York seven years ago from Guayaquil, Ecuador at age 22 she knew little English but was sure of two things: She wanted to earn a degree in architecture and was determined to help her hard-working parents. New York City College of Technology, where Ms. Leon majored in Architectural Technology, afforded her the opportunity to pursue those goals. She compiled a 3.9 GPA, is graduating summa cum laude, and plans to earn a master’s in construction management and become an architect.

George Farnum, who recently turned 70, emigrated to the U.S. from Barbados in 1966. His rich personal history includes a job as a cabin boy on a freighter and a stint in the Merchant Marine that brought him to nearly 50 countries. Mr. Farnum enrolled at Borough of Manhattan Community College in 2003 and then entered the CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies at Brooklyn College. There he majored in Black Literature in a Global Culture/Creative Writing, made the Dean’s List and won a Thomas W. Smith Academic Fellowship. His goal is to become “a writer of fiction, memoirs, and hopefully an autobiography.”

Rwandan native Georges Ndabashimiye survived one of the greatest horrors in modern history, the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, to excel at CCNY. He is graduating summa cum laude with a B.S. in Physics and will enter Stanford University’s Ph.D. program in Applied Physics. Mr. Ndabashimiye lost his father and brothers in Rwanda, spent three years hiding in the Congolese jungle, entered a vocational high school, and had the highest score on Rwanda’s national graduation exam. He was named a William Jefferson Clinton Scholar by his government, which enabled him to study at CCNY.

Other CUNY 2008 commencement speakers include Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez, who co-hosts Democracy Now, at CUNY School of Law; Philip A. Berry, VP for Global Workplace Initiatives at Colgate Palmolive and Vice Chairperson of the CUNY Board of Trustees, who also serves on the Department of Education’s Panel for Educational Policy, at Borough of Manhattan Community College; the Hon. Bertrand Joseph, Minister of Education, Sports and Youth Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda, at Lehman College, and financial executive Gail Marquis, 1976 Olympic silver medalist in women’s basketball, at Queens College.

Speakers also include Dr. Tomás D. Morales, who will deliver his Inaugural Address after his formal investiture as President of the College of Staten Island by Vice Chair of the CUNY Board of Trustees Philip A. Berry and Chancellor Matthew Goldstein; Dominic Carter, award-winning NY1 News political anchor and author, at Hostos Community College; Patrick Gaston, president of Verizon Foundation, one of the 15 largest corporate foundations in America, at York College; Vikki L. Pryor, President and Chief Executive Officer of SBLI USA Mutual Life Insurance Company, Inc., at Bronx Community College, and Leonard Lopate, host of WNYC’’s public radio talk show The Leonard Lopate Show, at Brooklyn College.

Among those who will be honored are Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours, at Brooklyn College; the Hon. Roderick L. Ireland, Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, Massachusetts, at CUNY School of Law; Ornette Coleman, legendary saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter and composer, William G. Bowen, President Emeritus of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Edward Hirsch, President of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, at the CUNY Graduate Center; Abbe Raven, President and Chief Executive Officer of A&E Television Networks, and Joel A. Katz, Chairman of Greenberg Traurig’s Global Entertainment Practice, at Hunter College; and Adam Heller, a world-renowned chemical engineer who has made important contributions to the biochemistry field in the areas of medicine, defense and space technology, at Queens College.

Other honorees are Gary L. Wells, the preeminent scholar on mistaken identification who helped develop the first set of national guidelines for police on eyewitness evidence, and Ellen Wolf Schrecker, a leading historian on the Cold War era and McCarthyism, at John Jay College of Criminal Justice; renowned Mexican sculptor “Sebastian” — Enrique Carbajal, and Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau, at The City College; and Margaret K. (Molly) Bruce, who became one of the first members of the UN Secretariat in 1945, and Woodie King, Jr., founder and producing director of the city’s New Federal Theatre, at Lehman College.

The CUNY Spring 2008 Commencement Schedule

May 16 through June 13, 2008 (LaGuardia Community College will hold its Commencement on September 18, 2008).

CUNY School of Law: May 16, 12 noon, The Selma and Max Kupferberg Center for the Visual and Performing Arts at Queens College, Flushing, Queens. Speaker: Juan Gonzalez, staff columnist at the New York Daily News and co-host of Democracy Now. Honorary Degrees: Doctor of Law: Dolly Filártiga, plaintiff in Filártiga vs. Peña-Irala. Doctor of Law: The Honorable Roderick L. Ireland, Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, Massachusetts.

Contact: Carol Kozo at (718) 340-4424

CUNY Graduate Center: May 22, 11 a.m., Manhattan Center, 311 West 34th St. (Eighth and Ninth Aves.), Manhattan. Speaker: William P. Kelly, President, The Graduate Center, scholar of Early American Republic literature and culture. Honorary Degrees: Doctor of Humane Letters: William G. Bowen, President Emeritus, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Doctor of Musical Arts: Ornette Coleman, saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter and composer. Doctor of Humane Letters: Edward Hirsch, President, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Contact: David Manning at (212) 817-7177

Baruch College: May 28, Two ceremonies, 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Seventh Avenue at 32nd St., Manhattan. Morning commencement: Speaker: Alma Guillermoprieto, who has written about Latin America for more than 20 years and is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. Honorary Degrees: Doctor of Humane Letters: Alma Guillermoprieto.

Afternoon commencement: Speaker: Alan M. Dershowitz, lawyer, who has been called one of our most “distinguished defenders of individual rights.” Honorary Degrees: Doctor of Laws: Alan M. Dershowitz.

Contact: Zane Berzins at (646) 660-6113

Queens College: May 29, 9 a.m., on the Queens College Quad, 65-30 Kissena Blvd., Flushing, Queens. Speaker: financial executive Gail Marquis, 1976 Olympic silver medalist in women’s basketball, alum, and former player for the New York Stars and New Jersey Gems, both Women’s Basketball League teams. Marquis was a member of the QC women’s team, which in 1975 became the first women’s basketball team to play in Madison Square Garden. The team ranked among the top 10 nationwide from 1972-1978 and finished second in the country in 1973. Honorary Degree: Doctor of Science: Adam Heller, world-renowned chemical engineer who has made important contributions in biochemistry, particularly in medicine, defense and space technology. President’s Medal: Russell M. and Alice Artzt: Russell is co-founder of Computer Associates and Alice, of the QC Secondary Education and Youth Services department, is known for her innovative math education program TIME 2000. Both are alums who met as students at QC.

Contact: Phyllis C. Stevens at (718) 997-5597 or Maria Matteo at (718) 997-5593

College of Staten Island: May 29, 10 a.m., 2800 Victory Blvd., Staten Island. Speaker: CSI President Tomás D. Morales, who will deliver his Inaugural Address following his formal investiture as president by Vice Chairperson of the CUNY Board of Trustees Philip A. Berry and Chancellor Matthew Goldstein. Honorary Degrees: Doctor of Humane Letters: Harry P. Doherty, Chairman and CEO of the Staten Island Bank & Trust, Chairman and President of the Staten Island Foundation, (posthumous); Doctor of Letters: Michael Shugrue, Founder of the Shugrue Cultural Development Fund, also served the College as Dean of Faculty, Director of Graduate Studies, and Professor of English. College Awards: Samir Farag, President of Worldwide Electronic Corp., CSI Foundation board member; Sally Williams, daughter of CSI founder Arleigh B. Williamson, CSI Foundation board member. They are recognized for their outstanding dedication to helping the college fulfill its mission.

Contact: Ken Bach at (718) 982-2328

John Jay College of Criminal Justice: May 29, 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Manhattan.
Speakers: Paul Farmer, a medical anthropologist and physician, founding director of Partners in Health, an international charity that offers direct health care and undertakes advocacy activities for some of the world’s poorest populations; Gary L. Wells, Professor of Psychology at Iowa State University and Director of Social Sciences for the Institute of Forensic Science & Public Policy, the preeminent scholar on mistaken identification who helped to develop the first set of national guidelines for police on eyewitness evidence; Ellen Wolf Schrecker, Professor of History at Yeshiva University, a leading historian on the Cold War era and McCarthyism, and a major contributor to the study of academic freedom.

Honorary Degrees: Doctor of Humane Letters: Gary L. Wells and Ellen Wolf Schrecker. Doctor of Science: Paul Farmer.
Contact: Chris Godek at (212) 237-8628

Lehman College: May 29, 10:30 a.m., South Field, Lehman campus.
Speaker: Hon. Bertrand Joseph, Minister of Education, Sports and Youth Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda. Minister Joseph has a B.A. (Political Science) and M.A. (U.S. History) from Lehman College. Honorary Degrees: Doctor of Humane Letters: Margaret K. (Molly) Bruce, one of the first and most distinguished members of the United Nations Secretariat, which she joined in 1945. Mrs. Bruce became a member of the Human Rights Division in 1946 as it was being formed on the Lehman campus during the UN sessions held at the College. She was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1978; Doctor of Humane Letters: Woodie King, Jr., founder and producing director of New Federal Theatre (NFT) in New York City, which has presented over 150 productions in its 30-year history. Mr. King has a B.A. in self-determined studies from Lehman College.
Contact: Marge Rice at (718) 960-4992

York College: May 30, 9 a.m., Health and Physical Education Field, 160th Street between Liberty Avenue and South Road, Jamaica, Queens. Speaker: Patrick Gaston, president, Verizon Foundation, one of the 15 largest corporate foundations in America. Mr. Gaston is responsible for philanthropic strategy, grant-making and initiatives in the foundation’s issue areas of education and literacy, family safety and health, and employee volunteerism. President’s Medal: Patrick Gaston; Jehanne Black, on behalf of her late mother, Dr. Gloria Black, former chair of Community Board 12.

Contact: Nate Moore at (718)-262-2354

Brooklyn College: May 29, 10 a.m., Brooklyn College Quadrangle, 2900 Bedford Ave. Speaker: Leonard Lopate, host of the public radio talk show The Leonard Lopate Show, broadcast on WNYC. Mr. Lopate will receive a Distinguished Alumnus Award. Honorary Degrees: Doctor of Humane Letters: Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours and five other highly regarded novels, and director of the fiction section in Brooklyn College’s M.F.A. Creative Writing Program; Philip G. Zimbardo, Brooklyn College alumnus with a distinguished career in academia including four decades as a professor of psychology at Stanford University, recognized for his groundbreaking psychological research, prolific writing, dedication to teaching, and efforts to introduce the greater public to psychology; Paul Auster, novelist, translator, poet and screenwriter. A sharp and original observer of the phantasmagoria of New York, he is much admired for blending crime fiction and absurdism in such works as The New York Trilogy, Moon Palace and The Brooklyn Follies.

Contact: John P. Hamill at (718) 951-5882 or (646) 734-8747

The City College of New York: May 30, 10 a.m., outside Shepard Hall, 160 Convent Ave., Manhattan. Speaker: Dr. Gregory H. Williams, award-winning author and 11th President of The City College of New York. Honorary Degree: Doctor of Humane Letters: renowned Mexican sculptor “Sebastian” — Enrique Carbajal. City College President’s Medal for Distinguished Service: Robert M. Morgenthau, Manhattan District Attorney.

Contact: Jay Mwamba at (212) 650-7580

Queensborough Community College: May 30, 10: a.m., Athletic Field on Campus, 222-05 56th Ave., Bayside, Queens. Speaker: Dr. Eduardo J. Martí, President, Queensborough Community College.

Contact: Millie Conte at (718) 631-6222

Borough of Manhattan Community College: May 30, 11:30 a.m., WaMu Theatre at Madison Square Garden, Seventh Avenue between 31st and 33rd Streets, Manhattan. Speaker: Philip A. Berry, Vice Chairperson of the CUNY Board of Trustees and 1971 BMCC alumnus, noted by Crain’s New York Business Magazine as one of the “100 Most Powerful Minority Leaders in New York City.” Berry is Vice President for Global Workplace Initiatives at Colgate Palmolive. He is also a mayoral appointee to the New York City Department of Education’s Panel for Educational Policy, overseeing policy for more than 1 million public school students.
Contact: Barry Rosen at (212) 220-1238

The William E. Macaulay Honors College: June 3, 10 a.m., New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th St. Speaker: Peter Gelb, award-winning producer of films, recordings, radio broadcasts, telecasts, concert events, operas and festivals and General Manager of The Metropolitan Opera. Honorary Degrees: Doctor of Humane Letters: Peter Gelb.
Contact: Carol Barash at (212) 729-2939

New York City College of Technology: June 3, 10:30 a.m., The WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, 7th Avenue and 32nd Street, Manhattan.

Speaker: Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. No honorary degrees will be awarded.

Contact: Michele Forsten at (718) 260-5979 or Dale Tarnowieski at (718) 260-5109

Hunter College: June 4, 2 p.m., Radio City Music Hall, Sixth Avenue and 50th Street. Speaker: Chris Matthews, award-winning broadcast journalist, host of Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC and The Chris Matthews Show on NBC, and a regular commentator on NBC’s Today show. A television news anchor with significant depth of experience, Matthews has distinguished himself as a broadcast journalist, newspaper bureau chief, presidential speechwriter and bestselling author. Honorary Degrees: Doctor of Humane Letters: Abbe Raven, President and Chief Executive Officer of A&E Television Networks; Doctor of Laws: Joel A. Katz, Chairman of Greenberg Traurig’s Global Entertainment Practice, Founding Shareholder and Co-Managing Shareholder Emeritus, Atlanta Office of Greenberg Traurig LLP.

Contact: Meredith Halpern at (212) 772-4068

Hostos Community College: June 4, 7 p.m., the Main Theatre, 450 Grand Concourse at 149th Street, Bronx. Speaker: Dominic Carter, political anchor, author and award-winning journalist. Mr. Carter, who hosts “Inside City Hall” on NY1 News, is the author of a new memoir, No Momma’s Boy: How I Let Go of My Past and Embraced the Future. An alumnus of the State University of New York at Cortland, he was the first member of his family to graduate from college.

Contact: Pedro Maymi at (718) 518-4152

Bronx Community College: June 6, 10:00 a.m., campus, West 181st Street & University Avenue, Bronx. Speaker: BCC alumna Vikki L. Pryor, President and Chief Executive Officer of SBLI USA Mutual Life Insurance Company, Inc.

Contact: Bryant Mason at (718) 289-5208

Medgar Evers College: June 7, 10 a.m., Bedford Building Amphitheater, Bedford Building, 1650 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn. Speaker: The Hon. David A. Paterson, the first African-American to serve as Governor of the State of New York, former Lieutenant Governor, former Democratic leader of the New York State Senate, representing the 30th State Senate District (Harlem, East Harlem, and the Upper West Side).
Contact: Christopher Hundley at (718) 270-6926

CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies: June 9, 10:30 a.m., The Great Hall at The Cooper Union, 7 East 7th St., at Third Avenue, Manhattan. Speaker: John Hockenberry, three-time Peabody Award winner, four-time Emmy award winner and Dateline NBC correspondent; also author of the acclaimed book Moving Violations: War Zones, Wheelchairs, and Declarations of Independence. Hockenberry, named a Distinguished Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab in 2007, is a regular commentator on the “Infinite Mind” and now co-host of a new morning drive news program, “The Takeaway” with John Hockenberry and Adaora Udoji. Prior to joining Dateline NBC, Hockenberry was a newscaster, commentator, correspondent and news host for NPR and ABC.

Contact: Beth Kneller at (212) 817-8238

CUNY School of Professional Studies – Online Baccalaureate: June 10, 6-8 p.m., Graduate Center, Elebash Recital Hall, 365 Fifth Ave., Manhattan.

Contact: Heather Zeman at (212) 817-7274

Kingsborough Community College: June 13, 11 a.m., 2001 Oriental Blvd., Brooklyn. Speaker: Dr. Richard J. Maraia, a Senior Investigator and Chief of the Section on Molecular and Cell Biology in the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. A high school dropout who wandered upstate as a hippie and worked for four years as a NYC taxi driver, he eventually earned his associate’s degree from Kingsborough Community College and his bachelor’s degree from Columbia University, where he became interested in genetics research. He attended Cornell University Medical College, where he worked on gene expression research, completed Pediatrics residency training at New York Hospital, and joined the Intramural Research Program (IRP) of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Dr. Maraia directs a team of 10 researchers at NICHD and is also a Captain in the U.S. Public Health Service. President’s Medal: Dr. Richard J. Maraia.

Contact: Ruby Ryles at 718-368-5543

The City University of New York is the nation’s largest urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847 as the Free Academy, the University comprises 23 institutions: 11 senior colleges, six community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. The University serves more than 231,000 degree-credit students and more than 231,000 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program for 32,500 high school students, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of the City of New York. The University offers online baccalaureate degrees through the School of Professional Studies and individualized baccalaureate through the CUNY Baccalaureate Degree. The University Teacher Academy provides free tuition for highly motivated mathematics and science majors who seek teaching careers in the city.

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