NEW PALTZ - More than 1,400 undergraduate and graduate students walked across the stage in tassels, caps, cords, and gowns at this year’s Commencement Ceremonies held May 16 and 18 on the SUNY New Paltz campus.
A total of 1,967 undergraduate and 517 graduate degrees were conferred.
President Donald P. Christian, who presided over the ceremonies, congratulated the new graduates and recognized the achievements of the students and faculty.
"Commencement ceremonies at their core are about recognition," said Christian. "First and foremost, we recognize the achievement of students who have completed the hard academic work of earning a degree. We recognize faculty for sharing knowledge and their understanding of intellectual frontiers with students with such dedication, and for their contributions in pushing back the boundaries of knowledge and human understanding."
At the Undergraduate Ceremony, SUNY New Paltz alumnus Paul C. Huth ’72, ’79g, director of research emeritus/associate curator, Daniel Smiley Research Center, Mohonk Preserve, delivered the Commencement speech and received an honorary doctorate of science. Huth shared with the students what he learned over his nearly 50-year career.
"I have found constant in both the natural and cultural world that change is the rule," said Huth. "I found that the great 20th century conservationist Aldo Leopold summed it up nicely. Looking at the big picture, he felt we are all members and citizens of a land-based community, requiring respect for fellow members and for the community. He said…." A land ethic….reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land". Respect for the land, and for each other. This has guided my personal and professional life. Respect and responsibility, good principles to live by!"
Valedictorian Arielle Rubinstein ’14 (Communication Disorders and Linguistics) of Robbinsville, N.J., followed Huth’s remarks. She gave an impassioned speech that addressed the importance of scholarship, friendship, and diversity, and she expressed gratitude for faculty/staff mentors and to the New Paltz community.
"During my time here, I have not just encountered a place to earn an education, I have discovered a home. At SUNY New Paltz, you are not just a face in a crowd. The professors are not merely instructors; they are mentors and sources of personal inspiration. Under our professors’ guidance, we learned the importance of hard work, global thinking, and problem-solving. We were taught that the most original ideas are generated through collaboration. We realized that an education is only as good as a person’s commitment to his or her craft," she said. "I feel honored to have been surrounded by some of the most accepting, diverse, and creative thinking individuals that I have ever met. For the past four years, we challenged, supported, and confided in one another. We learned from each other to appreciate different perspectives, to transform failures into successes, and to approach people with confidence and kindness. I ask you to reflect on your evolution in college and apply what you have learned about your field and yourselves to your future endeavors. Congratulations and good luck to the State University of New York at New Paltz class of 2014!"