Ceremony Moves to Weeknight for First Time; Will be Held on Alumni Green at Middletown Campus

PHOTO: CommencementMIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – SUNY Orange’s treasured Commencement ceremony will have a different look and feel when more than 375 graduates take to the Alumni Green on the Middletown campus for the College’s 64th annual graduation event at 5 p.m., Thursday, May 22.

For the first time, Commencement will be held on a weeknight, having been moved from its traditional Saturday morning time slot. The change was designed to add some breathing room into the hectic end-of-semester schedule for both students and staff.

“Our original intent for moving Commencement back a bit was to allow us to add two ‘reading days’ into our academic calendar. Those days were expected to be a significant boost to our students by giving them additional time to prepare for their final exams,” says Dr. William Richards, SUNY Orange president. “However, Mother Nature had different plans for us. We were forced to close the College numerous times this winter because of inclement weather. We lost enough class time that we were required to make up those instructional hours, and the only way to do so was to replace the reading days with additional class time.”

This year, SUNY Orange will also be conducting a pilot program related to graduate seating and degree conferment at Commencement. The College has traditionally issued graduates their actual degree when they cross the stage. Adhering to this practice in recent years, as the numbers of graduates and Commencement participants have grown, became a challenge for the Registrar’s staff. Graduates attending next week’s event will be seated by academic degree program--rather than alphabetically within the entire class--and will be receive their degree by mail several weeks after Commencement.

“Our graduates in recent years told us they spend most of their time at the College with classmates within their degree program, yet when they attend Commencement they are usually seated next to students from other programs that they do not know,” Richards adds. “This change will make their experience more enjoyable. And because we’re testing the waters by electing to mail degrees to graduates this year, we thought we’d experiment with the seating arrangements as well.”

Few colleges across the country still adhere to the tradition of providing graduates with their actual degrees at graduation. Following this year’s event, SUNY Orange leadership will evaluate the changes and present a report to the College’s Board of Trustees, which will determine how Commencement and degree distribution will be handled in the years ahead.

Biology professor Dr. Michelle Paradies and graduate Alex De La Rosa will serve as the featured speakers. In all, more than 750 graduates will have completed their associate’s degree or certificate requirements during August, December or May of this current academic year. That total is pending final review of all May graduate candidates’ transcripts.

Any student who completed the necessary academic requirements during the 2013-14 academic year, or is slated to conclude a program of study this summer, is eligible to participate in Commencement. SUNY Orange awards diplomas to students who earn Associate in Arts, Associate in Science and Associate in Applied Science degrees, as well as graduation certificates to those who complete the College’s various certificate programs.

Richards will conduct the Commencement, with addresses to be delivered by Paradies, De La Rosa, Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus, Board of Trustees Chair Joan Wolfe and Rich Rowley, chairman of the SUNY Orange Foundation’s Board of Directors. Amanda Quintana, of New Windsor, will serve as the student marshal and lead the graduate processional and recessional.

PHOTO: Alex De La RosaParadies, who joined the SUNY Orange faculty in 2000, primarily teaches anatomy and physiology courses to students who are preparing to enter the College’s health professions programs. She also has developed and taught a neurobiology course, and she routinely instructs a challenging Honors course entitled “Biology for Today” that addresses various topics. Last spring she received the SUNY Orange President’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

De La Rosa (left), of Newburgh, served as the student trustee this past year, representing the College’s more than 6,000 students. A graduate of Newburgh Free Academy who will earn his degree in international studies, De La Rosa plans to transfer to American University in Washington, D.C., to pursue a bachelor’s degree in international studies.

He has been actively involved in student activities on both campuses. He was a member of the Student Senate in Middletown, served as president of the Newburgh campus Board of Activities and was a student representative on the College-wide Sustainability Committee. He also is an active community volunteer, having donated time for a variety of events in support of Safe Harbors of the Hudson in Newburgh. At NFA, he was an honors student and earned eight varsity letters (two each for baseball, wrestling and football, and one each for tennis and track).

In the event of inclement weather, Commencement would be moved indoors to the Edward A. Diana Physical Education Center.

» Back to Headlines

Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940