Press Releases

Purchase Commencement May 20 at Westchester County Center

Date Released: 4/11/2011

Artist Alfredo Jaar, & Dr. Evelyn Fox Keller, founding member of Purchase faculty in mathematics, natural sciences, women's studies, to receive honorary degrees. Alumni awards to actress & comedian Susie Essman, and artist & educator Jon Kessler. More.

Purchase, NY--President Thomas J. Schwarz will preside at the 39th  Commencement ceremony of Purchase College State University of New York on Friday, May 20 at 1 PM at the Westchester County Center.  Degrees will be awarded to approximately 990 undergraduates and 60 graduate students. 


Honorary degrees will be conferred on artist Alfredo Jaar and Dr. Evelyn Fox Keller a founding member of the Purchase College faculty in mathematics, natural sciences and women's studies.


The President's Award for Distinguished Alumni will be presented to

actress and comedienne Susie Essman and artist and educator Jon Kessler.


Amid pomp and ceremony, the commencement procession will be led by Faculty Marshalls Dr. William Needham, Dr. James Utter, and Dr. Tania Chao. The Mace bearer will be Louise Yelin, Chair, School of Humanities.

The honor guard will include Officer Donelle Charles and Officer David Mobley.


Joseph Ferry and the Big Ska Band will entertain the audience with lively Jamaican Reggae and Ska music before and during the ceremony. Musicians are Purchase College faculty members and students including: Joey Ray, vocals; Joe Ferry, Bass; Jim McElwaine, Saxophone; Richard Fields, Trumpet; Dave Lewitt, Drums; Jon Graber, Guitar; Jerry Mitkowski, Hammond B-3.


Music selections include:

Fanfare: When The Saints Go Marching In

Processional : Pachelbel's Canon in D segue to Pomp and Circumstance

Recessional : Pomp and Circumstance segue to New York New York


The National Anthem will be performed by graduate student Holly Hare of Bittinger, MD.  


The Senior Speaker (Valedictorian) is Kaitlyn Raitz, Islip, Long Island. 

In her speech she said, “I found my inspiration on the inside label of an Honest Tea Bottle. It read, "Why not go out on a limb,isn't that where the fruit is." Ms. Raitz is a cellist who began  performing at age ten and is a swim team champion who has won two Skyline Championships, a Hudson Valley Championship, and a SUNY Chancellor Athlete Award. She quoted her coach who told her before an important meet and an upcoming senior recital "the only things that will get in your way are yourself and the limits you think you have." She urged classmates to follow Eleanor Roosevelt's advice. "Look fear in the face... Do the thing you think you cannot do." 


The ceremony will be web cast for those unable to attend. Large overhead monitors will carry a slide show of campus life and capture every detail of the ceremony.  Flower garlands and clusters of greenery will decorate the stage.