POTSDAM -- SUNY Potsdam celebrated its 2014 Bachelor's Commencement Ceremony Sunday as 913 undergraduates walked the stage.
The college also bid farewell to Interim President Dr. Dennis L. Hefner, as he participated in his first and only commencement at the college before returning to retirement.
The graduates of the Class of 2014 cheered as they turned their tassels and began to cross the stage in the Academic Quad in the shade of the Satterlee Hall clock tower.
"Today is indeed a special day," Dr. Hefner said. "This is a terrific graduating class, not only for its academic achievements and performances on the stage, playing field, arena and rink, but for its willingness to be of service to those who need our students' talents and time. We take pride in the achievements and contributions of the Class of 2014."
Student Government Association President Sara Behuniak '14 reflected on all that her classmates were able to achieve -- and all the opportunities ahead of them. Behuniak received her bachelor's degree, cum laude, in politics, with a minor in pre-law, and will attend the Western New England School of Law in the fall.
"Today is an accumulation of our hard work, and it is a giant 'thank you' to everyone who helped us to get here. It is a 'thank you' to our professors, who gave us that extra bit of help, the staff who gave us an extra bit of chips and a wink at lunch time, and it's a 'thank you' to a our families. It's a culmination of our hard work and that extra encouragement that has gotten us here today," Behuniak said. "So take today to appreciate all that you've done, but don't be satisfied-work to be even better in the following years."
Dr. Emmett C. Murphy '65, the chair of Murphy Leadership and the president of the Wilson Center for Leadership and Innovation, addressed the graduates after receiving an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
"Remember, this day is not yours alone. It also belongs to all those who helped make it possible -- your parents, spouse, family and friends. They invested their love and support in you, knowing that you possess the talent, character and intelligence to make a difference for the good in this dramatically changing world," Murphy said.
The SUNY Potsdam alumnus reflected on several professors and staff members who had a profound impact on his life, including English faculty member Grace Terry, Crane School of Music Dean Emerita Helen Hosmer and President Emeritus Tom Barrington. Inspired by the tale of four archers from Virgil's "Aeneid," Murphy encouraged the graduates to aim high and shoot for the heavens.
"This is the era of highly disruptive, asymmetric chance, what scientists and theorists call a tipping point in history. And you have landed right in the middle of it. I'm tempted to say: Good luck. Here's the key to the future. It's yours. See you at the bar," Murphy said. "This is the time for you to take control, to step forward and demonstrate the capability you have so well developed here at Potsdam."
SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association President Jeffrey Washburn '79 was honored with the 2014 Roger B. Linden Distinguished Service Award, the College's highest honor. He also officially welcomed the Class of 2014 into the ranks of the College's 40,000 alumni worldwide.
"On behalf of the Alumni Association, I would like to congratulate the Class of 2014 on your many accomplishments to date, and wish you the best as you move on the next stage of your life. We hope that you will set new and lofty goals, and strive to fulfill them all," Washburn said.
College Council Chair June O'Neill thanked Hefner for his diligent and dedicated service to the institution over the past year, before congratulating the graduates.
"Your time here at Potsdam has prepared you well for a bright future. You are forever a part of SUNY Potsdam, even though you may be apart from us, geographically. We are family," O'Neill said.
The ceremony concluded with the conferring of baccalaureate degrees, including the Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. During Commencement, the College recognizes all students who have either earned their degree or are eligible to graduate between December 2013 and December 2014.
SUNY Potsdam also honored 215 master's graduates this weekend, in its ninth annual Master's Commencement Ceremony, held on Saturday, May 17, in the Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall at The Crane School of Music.
For more information about Commencement at SUNY Potsdam, visit www.potsdam.edu/commencement.