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Dual CAS commencement ceremonies put focus on students

The growing numbers of UB graduates and their family members — as seen at last year's overflowing University Commencement ceremony in Alumni Arena — prompted the university to split the ceremony honoring the College of Arts and Sciences' baccalaureate recipients into two separate ceremonies. Photo: Douglas Levere

By SUE WUETCHER

Published May 5, 2017

“Honoring their investment, recognizing their achievements — that’s what this year’s ceremonies are all about. We will truly celebrate our exceptional group of graduates.”
Robin Schulze, dean
College of Arts and Sciences

It was bound to happen. As enrollment increases at UB, the number of students graduating increases as well. And the number of College of Arts and Sciences graduates — and their family members — have outgrown Alumni Arena, the site of UB’s traditional University Commencement honoring CAS’ baccalaureate recipients.

So UB this year decided to split the ceremony into two smaller ceremonies differentiated by departments.

And that’s fine with CAS Dean Robin G. Schulze. Schulze views the new arrangement as an opportunity to make the day — the culmination of a student’s undergraduate career — more celebratory and put a greater focus on the 1,500 students expected to participate, as well as their family members.

“Commencement is a time of both remembering and looking ahead,” Schulze says. “Our seniors have worked hard in pursuit of their dreams at UB, and they have tremendous futures before them.

“Honoring their investment, recognizing their achievements — that’s what this year’s ceremonies are all about,” she says. “We will truly celebrate our exceptional group of graduates.”

With two ceremonies now set for May 21 in Alumni Arena — a 9:30 a.m. ceremony for students from the arts, natural sciences, mathematics and interdisciplinary programs, and a 3 p.m. ceremony for students from the humanities and social sciences — more tickets will be available for family members to attend, CAS administrators says. In the past, an overflow crowd watched the single University Commencement ceremony in the Center for the Arts via live videostream.

Students now will receive six tickets, two more than in past years, to accommodate family members.

And halving the number of graduates at each ceremony will make for a less-stressful arrival and departure, as well as provide a more relaxing, spacious environment in the arena for graduates and their family members.

Changes have been made as well to improve the experience for students behind the scenes, commencement officials say. The triple gym, where students assemble before marching into the arena, will feature a more festive and celebratory atmosphere. Students and families are encouraged to share photos, memories and best wishes to social media — using the official commencement hashtag #UBClassOf2017 — and those messages will stream live in the triple gym and in the arena before and after the ceremonies. There also will be a photo booth and light refreshments available to students, and Victor E. Bull will make an appearance.

And having two ceremonies means more opportunities for student speakers and, for the first time, student-nominated faculty speakers.

Both ceremonies will feature Peter J. Kadzik, BA ’74, former assistant attorney general for legislative affairs at the U.S. Department of Justice, as the alumni speaker.

Here’s the lineup of student and faculty speakers and student honorees at the ceremonies. The deadline for students to register and participate in commencement has been extended to May 9.  

Morning ceremony

For students in Art, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Environmental Geosciences, Geology, Mathematics, Media Study, Music, Physics, Theatre and Dance, and Social Sciences Interdisciplinary.

Faculty speaker: Jessica Poulin, assistant professor, Department of Biological Sciences.

Student speaker:  Eileen R. Bennett, Mathematics.

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence: Hannah L. Griffith, Social Sciences Interdisciplinary and Spanish; Anna Jacquinot, Biomedical Sciences and Mathematics; Barrett T. Kemp, Biological Sciences; and Jacob P. Schupbach, Business Administration and Studio Art.

CAS Outstanding Senior Awards: Hannah C. Anderson, Environmental Geosciences; Haley D. Bjorn, Theatre and Dance; Alexa Bracci, Biological Sciences; Kenneth L. Budzinski, Physics; Clarissa Cardarelli, Social Science Interdisciplinary; Megan C. Corcoran, Geology; Jenna S. Cunningham, Music; Sergio E. Garcia Tapia, Mathematics; Gregory George, Chemistry; Nathan M. Noworyta, Media Study; and Jacob P. Schupbach, Studio Art.

Afternoon ceremony

For students in Anthropology, Asian Studies, Classics, Communication, Communicative Disorders and Sciences, Economics, English, Geography, History, Jewish Thought, Linguistics, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Romance Languages and Literatures, Sociology, Special Studies and Transnational Studies.

Faculty speaker: Lance Rintamaki, associate professor, Department of Communication.

Student speaker: Megan Glander, Political Science and Communication.

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence: Madelaine M. Britt, Environmental Design and Political Science; Won Woong (Tyler) Choi, Economics and Political Science; and Andrea D. Niper, Economics.

CAS Outstanding Senior Awards: Ana I. Alhoud, Communication; Taylor N. Brown, Sociology; Lukas M. Dickash, Linguistics; Kara N. Dunovant, Transnational Studies; Alejandro Corona Espinosa, Psychology; Rebecca A. Gasiorek, Asian Studies; Sushmita Gelda, English; Somaura M. Jackson, Anthropology; Rebecca M. Jaffe, Communicative Disorders and Sciences; Christopher R. Jakubowski, History; Jena T. Jendrowski, Geography; Jedidiah E.J. Kalmanofsky, Philosophy; Nouaman Maloley, Political Science; Andrea D. Niper, Economics; Zephyr E. Smith, Classics; and Kara Walsh, Romance Language and Literatures.

Editor's note: Elin Hawkinson contributed to this article.