May 22, 2024
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Thousands cross the stage as members of Binghamton University’s Class of 2023

More than 4,500 degrees conferred over 10 ceremonies

Binghamton University's 2023 Doctoral Hooding Ceremony took place May 10, at the Anderson Center for the Performing Arts' Osterhout Concert Theater. Graduate Kelley L. Cook with her two children Lukas, 7, and Aurora, 5, celebrate following the ceremony. Cook earned her doctorate in Community and Public Affairs. Binghamton University's 2023 Doctoral Hooding Ceremony took place May 10, at the Anderson Center for the Performing Arts' Osterhout Concert Theater. Graduate Kelley L. Cook with her two children Lukas, 7, and Aurora, 5, celebrate following the ceremony. Cook earned her doctorate in Community and Public Affairs.
Binghamton University's 2023 Doctoral Hooding Ceremony took place May 10, at the Anderson Center for the Performing Arts' Osterhout Concert Theater. Graduate Kelley L. Cook with her two children Lukas, 7, and Aurora, 5, celebrate following the ceremony. Cook earned her doctorate in Community and Public Affairs. Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.

Binghamton University hosted 10 separate ceremonies recognizing more than 4,500 graduates this year, beginning with a Doctoral Hooding Ceremony at 3 p.m. Wednesday, May 10, in the Anderson Center’s Osterhout Concert Theater.

Doctoral Hooding Ceremony

Nearly 130 doctoral students crossed the stage to have their advisors hood them with a colored hood representing their discipline.

Gretchen Mahler, interim dean of the Graduate School, earned her doctorate 15 years ago, and said it is “fun to think about the advancements that have happened since then.”

Highlighting a number of advances that the graduating students had contributed to, she told the doctoral graduates that they are exceptional.

“The work you have been doing, your research, discoveries and inventions, have already had measurable benefits to society and will continue to make a positive difference in the world,” she said. “You are experts in research, analysis, decision-making and communication. You are tough, adaptable and have learned from your mistakes. The next time life is difficult, remember that you have solved big problems before and have the tools to figure out this new challenge.”

Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Donald Hall offered encouraged the graduates to know their own value: “Since you are well past the ’undecided’ stage of your college years, my advice to you is to pursue the career path that you want. But as you make your way forward, remember to define your value to prospective employers or academic institutions. Show them that you know how to solve problems, that you know how to ’play well with others’ on teams, that you learned to be a leader at Binghamton — and that you are a good communicator.”

Recalling that receiving his doctorate was one of his proudest moments, President Harvey Stenger reminded graduates that the origin of their academic regalia, with a long gown, heavy hood and distinctive headgear was “to keep struggling students and faculty warm in the unheated classrooms of medieval Europe.”

“But this hood will do more than keep you warm,” he added. “It will open doors for you at the world’s leading colleges and universities, give you entrance to the top research laboratories and scholarly libraries, and allow you to pass into the highest corridors of government and industry.

“You have proven that you have the broad perspectives to understand and to empathize, and that you have the ability — and the tenacity — to work through difficult challenges,” he said. “And, most importantly, it is proof that you have the vision and ingenuity to develop innovative solutions to the world’s problems.”

M. Stanley Whittingham, distinguished professor of chemistry and 2019 Nobel laureate in chemistry, encouraged the graduates to take risks.

“I’ve been fortunate that things have gone my way and I learned a few things,” he said. “Take advantage of opportunities that come your way, do what you love doing — not what others tell you and not for the money — and take risks in any organization you belong to.”

He spoke of companies that were once at the top of their fields, yet have fallen by the wayside because they failed to take risks and let others move technology forward: IBM, Sony, Kodak and Exxon.

Exxon was once a world leader in renewable energy in the 1970s, but was unwilling to invest and take the risk when lithium-ion batteries were discovered, Whittingham said. Sony was once the most successful company for recording technology, but where are they now, he asked.

“We all live in a country that is unique in the world. Nowhere else is there the opportunity to do what you want to do,” he said. “You can start your own company. Microsoft and Apple had vision and were willing to take risks.”

He reminded the audience that battery technology was invented here and in Oxford, England, but technology is often now dominated by Asia and “we have to bring that technology back here,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to do in Endicott. I spend a lot of time working on that.

“As companies get comfortable, they’re not willing to take risks,” he added. “So don’t get too comfortable. Take risks.

“You are now joining the most educated, smartest folks in the country, but some obligations come with that,” Whittingham concluded. “Facts do matter, even on Twitter. Help your neighbors and politicians understand what we really need to do to move things forward. Talk to them; try.”

Master’s Commencement sees 830+ degrees conferred

The Master’s Commencement Ceremony, held Friday, May 12, celebrated more than 830 graduates who had completed advanced coursework and a major project in their respective fields, Mahler said.

“This project can involve research, analysis, creative composition or performance, depending on the discipline,” she said. “A master’s degree holder, like all of our graduates, has demonstrated a high level of expertise in their area of study or professional practice, as well as a mastery of skills that include critical thinking, independent learning, complex problem-solving and information synthesis.

“I want to emphasize that no graduate program can fully prepare you for the challenges that lie ahead in your professional careers,” she added. “However, the tools you have acquired during your time here, such as the ability to gather and organize information, resilience in the face of adversity and perseverance in difficult circumstances, are skills that will serve you well as you navigate new obstacles.”

“Only about 13% of all Americans have earned a master’s degree,” Stenger said, as he congratulated the graduates. “And your degree gives you unique advantages. This experience will change your life, with broader networks and career opportunities in the disciplines that interest you. What I find is that those who earn master’s degrees are in it because they enjoy the intellectual challenge and want to gain a deeper appreciation of their chosen discipline.

“The future will be a challenging place with healthcare crises to overcome, social and economic inequities to be address, continuing conflict and strife between nations and, perhaps most pressing, a warming world that exacerbates all our problems,” Stenger added. “Challenges like these will require the work and imagination of people in a wide range of fields and disciplines working together across international borders. So we need you!”

“You are truly remarkable students who have brought your intellectual curiosity, work ethic and sense of humor to bear throughout your time here. As you graduate from Binghamton, you will take with you what you have learned in your classes, laboratories, competitions, simulations, clinical rotations, student organizations and the thousands of personal interactions you have had with those around you,” Hall said. “You will take all that you have experienced here and become change-makers.”

Sasha Kinsler, who received her Master of Business Administration, addressed her fellow graduates.

She began by offering an example of an artificial intelligence (AI) generated speech, but said it would have been the “most boring speech of all time.”

Instead, Kinsler injected a bit more emotion into her words, noting that “the only things AI can tell us about living through and learning during a pandemic is what humans have already written.”

“AI could not have written this speech because it doesn’t know what it is like to experience this journey. To grow as a person. To graduate and move on to the next stage of life and a career,” she said. “We all have a desire to make a positive impact on the world in our own unique ways. We are all part of a larger community of individuals who are dedicated to learning and growth. We are part of a generation of young leaders poised to make a positive impact on the world, and I have no doubt you will rise to meet that challenge.”

Kinsler concluded by telling her fellow graduates that their future is not something that can be generated for them. “You need to create it. Use your mind to go beyond what AI can do, beyond what it could possibly dream up.”

Charles Schumer addresses graduates

U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Charles Schumer joined the platform party for the master’s ceremony as well as for the Harpur 1, 2 and 3 ceremonies, speaking to graduates about seizing opportunities. His advice: “Go for it!”

“It’s no longer true that people will have the same job for 40 years. Most will have several jobs and several careers,” Schumer said. “And the internet puts so much information at our fingertips that it is sometimes hard to determine what’s important and what is true.”

The good news about this changing world, he noted, is that the graduates’ generation is better equipped than any before to adapt to these changes, to overcome the challenges and to seize the opportunities. “Sometimes it might feel like you’re jumping into an abyss,” Schumer said, “but soak up every possibility. Don’t fear the unknown — embrace it and cast aside your fears. Go for it!

“Garner up your courage, garner up your strength and take a chance,” he said. “My hope and prayer and confidence is that you will find true success and joy in life.”

Alumni engagement message

Matthew Winston, executive director of alumni engagement at the University, spoke at the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony about the graduates’ accomplishments.

“As graduate students at Binghamton, you each played a unique and multifaceted role within our community. You brought your own undergraduate experiences into a higher level of learning and inquiry,” he said. “You brought unique skills and perspectives from the workplace, from military and humanitarian perspectives and from your own upbringing. And you introduced all of that into the fabric of this place.

“It doesn’t matter from where you earned your previous degrees. I want to make it clear that you are now official members of the Bearcat Nation,” he said. “Represent Binghamton wherever you go, wearing your University logo proudly. And always wear green. Unless you are robbing a bank, then I want you to wear some other school’s colors. Otherwise, always wear green!”

Scott Feuer, president of the University’s Alumni Association, spoke at each of the other Commencement ceremonies, reminding the newest members of the association of the value of networking and relationships.

“Whether it’s in person or virtually, always keep adding to your network,” he said. “You never know when a connection is going to benefit you and perhaps you will be able to help someone else. I’ve heard many stories of Binghamton connections leading to jobs for recent graduates and just last year, I was able to help a member of the Class of 2022 get her first job after we met at a virtual networking event.”

Coverage of Binghamton University’s pharmacy and undergraduate ceremonies can be found at the following links:

Additionally, coverage including profiles of students, can be found on the Binghamton University Commencement website.

To view any of these ceremonies, visit the Binghamton University You Tube channel.