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4,000 receive degrees at Commencement

By : Katie Ellis

Leslie Lander, associate professor of computer science, right, celebrates with students May 19 after the Graduate School’s Commencement.

More than 4,000 graduates moved their tassels from right to left last weekend during Binghamton University’s 57th Commencement ceremonies. Calling it an exciting day for both graduates and the University, President Lois B. DeFleur spoke of the commitment Binghamton students have shown to helping others and asked graduates to address the challenges facing our world through their talents and humanitarian values.

“I believe this is a hopeful time with many opportunities for college graduates,” she said. “And particularly for Binghamton graduates who are well prepared, talented and motivated.”

Students marched in three ceremonies, with more than 760 master’s degrees and 123 doctoral degrees conferred Saturday evening. About 3,300 bachelor’s degrees were awarded at the ceremonies for the professional schools and Harpur College of Arts and Sciences on Sunday. Each ceremony began with a moment of silence for those who died in the Virginia Tech shootings in April.

Allan Lyons ’62, honorary degree recipient and CPA, addressed the professional schools audience, commending Binghamton University for providing him with an education that taught him the value of teamwork, the importance of striving for an A+ and, most important, that ethics really matter.

“Whatever we do in our careers — whether we enter business, industry, academics or health care — our first duty is always to the truth,” he said.

J. David Singer, an educator and political scientist, received an honorary doctorate at the Harpur College ceremony. His message to graduates as they make a major transition from being consumers of knowledge to becoming users and producers of knowledge, was to “step up your own self-education.

“I hope you acquire a high level of moral autonomy, and that also requires intellectual autonomy,” he said. “You now have an opportunity to address many problems facing our country and the global village today.”

Student speakers commented on the good times they had and friendships they made while at Binghamton, but also looked to the future.

Justin Martin, who received his doctorate in inorganic chemistry, said the good memories from Binghamton will help him and his fellow graduates “maintain perspective in what will undoubtedly be some difficult days ahead.” Martin urged his colleagues to be harbingers of hope and equality. “Let us always treasure opportunities to better ourselves and our communities and let us continue to treasure discoveries like Newton and never forget how great it feels when we discover, create and inspire in our own voice,” he said.

Michael Schiffman earned his bachelor’s degree in finance and will attend dental school in the fall. He spoke of the value of his Binghamton degree, the motivation shown by students here and the duty those students now have to “go out into the world and do our part to prove that (the University’s) investment in us was a good one. … It is now our responsibility and obligation to get out into that world and effect change, not for the sake of changes, but for the betterment of all mankind.”

The Harpur ceremony’s student speaker, Wui Ip, who earned bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and biological sciences, arrived in the United States five years ago and talked of the culture shock he experienced, as well as the culture shock his fellow students lived through as new college students. Though his parents do not speak English and couldn’t understand what he was saying to his fellow graduates, his message was clear to everyone else: “When we enter the real world, there will be a new series of ‘culture shocks,’ but the time in Binghamton has strengthened our abilities to overcome these future challenges. So, if we believe in ourselves and our Binghamton experiences — guess what? We will do great!”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08