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By Gerianne Wright
Nearly 1,100 students moved tassels from right to left, signifying their graduation from SUNY Plattsburgh at the 125th Spring Commencement May 16 at the Field House.
Two ceremonies marked the day, with graduates who majored in programs within the School of Education, Health and Human Services and the School of Business and Economics walking the dais in the morning and those students who majored in the School of Arts and Sciences walking in the afternoon processional.
It wasn’t long before students, faculty, staff and guests were on their feet, applauding this year’s honorary doctor of fine arts degree recipients, Eric Gibson ’93 and his brother, Leigh ’94 ’96. The International Bluegrass Music Association award-winning musicians, well-known to legions of fans and hometown friends as part of The Gibson Brothers band, humbly thanked their alma mater then picked up their guitars and performed “Dying for Someone to Live For” from their album, “They Called it Music.”
Standing ovations were given to graduates in the armed forces — those who have served and those who will be active military. Several grads walked in full military dress uniform.
At each ceremony, summa cum laude music and theater graduate Abigayle Ploetz of Eden, N.Y., delivered the student address, where she implored her fellow classmates to follow the “Rule of Yes,” which, in the world of theater improvisation, encourages the acceptance of the contributions added by others. In life, this applies as well because people “appreciate someone who respects what they’re giving and adds something to the situation,” she said. “And someday, you’ll have people around you who hear your idea and tell you, ‘Yes, we could do that; and here’s how we can make it better.’”
Graduates at both morning and afternoon ceremonies witnessed former President Joseph Burke and his wife, Joan, receive the 2015 Distinguished Service Award. Presented by the Plattsburgh College Council, the award was presented for the Burkes’ lasting contribution to the college, community and state. Dr. Burke served at SUNY Plattsburgh first as vice president for academic affairs in 1973 and then president of the college from 1974 to 1986 when he left Plattsburgh to assume the post of provost of the State University of New York in Albany. Mrs. Burke, a clinical social worker, maintained a practice in marriage counseling in Plattsburgh during her husband’s presidency.
Dr. Burke continues to serve the North Country as president of the William H. Miner Board of Trustees at the Chazy-based research institute and farm while Mrs. Burke sits as chair of the Alice T. Miner Museum Board of Directors. She previously served on Clinton County’s Community Services Board, the board of directors of the county ARC and the Northern New York Center..
Ashley Gambino ’04 who serves as first vice president of the Plattsburgh Alumni Association and clinical director of audiology at SUNY Plattsburgh, welcomed the newly minted members of the association into the fold at both ceremonies.The Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir performed the Star Spangled Banner and alma mater, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Bagpipe Band led the processional and recessional at both ceremonies.
Additional photos are available on Facebook.
For more information about Commencement, please contact:
Office of the President
Office: 159 Hawkins Hall
Address: 101 Broad Street, Plattsburgh, New York 12901
Phone: (518) 564-2010
Fax: (518) 564-3932