Press Releases


Date Released: 5/19/2006

Thomas J. Schwarz, President of Purchase College, State University of New York, will preside at the 34th commencement ceremony on Friday, May 19 at 1 PM on the West Lawn (735 Anderson Hill Road).  Degrees will be awarded to approximately 835 undergraduates and 46 graduate students.

An honorary degree will be conferred upon Dr. Allan E. Goodman, educator and author for more than 30 years in international education and global understanding.  The Institute of International Education, which he heads, is the leading organization in international educational exchange and development training, that administers the Fulbright program and 250 other corporate, government and privately-sponsored programs.  The Scholar Rescue Fund, administered by the Institute of International Education, helps to save lives and creates opportunities for greater international understanding.  This year a prominent rescued scholar is teaching, giving public lectures and living at Purchase.  The Scholar Rescue Fund arranges academic positions for educators from any country who suffer violence or threats because of their work, prominence, or exercise of their basic rights. 

The second honorary degree recipient is Carmen de Lavallade, who has had a stellar career as a dancer, actor, director, choreographer and professor.  In 50 years in dance she has continually reinvented herself as an artist. Her influence is worldwide from her earliest days with the Lester Horton Dance Company to her association with Alvin Ailey as a founding member of his dance Company.  She has performed on and off Broadway and has been a prima ballerina and choreographer for the Metropolitan Opera, the Dance Theater of Harlem, and the Alvin Ailey Dance Company.  She has also danced with the John Butler Company, the New York City Opera, and the American Ballet Theater in a ballet choreographed by Agnes de Mille. She has toured through Asia with the de Lavallade Ailey Company on behalf of the President’s International Cultural Exchange Program and made guest appearances with Josephine Baker.

At the Yale Repertory Theater under Robert Brustein she was an actor, professor and choreographer for more than a decade.  She appeared in several films, has won many awards and participated in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts celebration of African-American dance pioneers in 2005.  She staged Lester Horton’s duet The Beloved three times for the Purchase Dance Corps where it was performed to critical acclaim on campus and on tour in Hong Kong at the International Festival of Dance Academies.  Recently she choreographed L’Historie Soldat for Wall to Wall Stravinsky at Symphony Space in New York City with musician accompaniment by faculty from the Purchase College Conservatory of Music.

The President’s Award for Distinguished Alumni will be conferred on Harvey Wang, an internationally recognized photographer and filmmaker. He has established a compelling standard of photography and has had his works exhibited by the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of the City of New York, the New York Historical Society and many other venues, and has had clients from many of the nation’s top corporations.  He has completed his first feature film, The Last New Yorker, having won the Tribeca Film Festival prize for Best Documentary Short of 2003, Best Experimental Film at the 2004 Rhode Island International Film Festival, and two Emmy Awards.  He has earned critical praise for the books Harvey Wang’s New York and Flophouse: Life on the Bowery that vividly introduce audiences to people and places most people would never experience.  He is completing his fifth book.

For the past two and a half decades Senator Charles Schumer has been a leader on national issues and a tireless fighter for New York. He has been an advocate for improving access to quality education and has led the charge in Congress to make college tuition tax deductible. He also developed a “Marshall Plan for Teachers” that provides incentives to attract the best and brightest to teaching.  Several amendments he successfully authored for the Education Bill doubled funding for the recruitment and retention of math and science teachers.

Now in his second term, Senator Schumer has been a pioneer in the fight against crime, a tireless worker for women’s rights and has made improving New York’s economy his top priority. He serves on the Senate Finance Committee, the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, the Judiciary Committee, and the Rules Committee. He is also the ranking member of the Administrative Oversight and the Courts Subcommittee, and the Economic Policy Subcommittee. A product of Brooklyn public schools, Senator Schumer graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School and was elected to the New York State Assembly at age 23, making him one of the youngest members since Theodore Roosevelt. He was later elected to Congress at age 29.

The Commencement ceremony will be held under a large white tent decorated with red and white banners and chevrons representing each of the College’s Schools and Conservatories.  Masses of red and white geraniums and hibiscus plants will decorate the stage.

The academic procession will be led by Mace Bearer Alfred Hunt, Professor of History.  Faculty marshals Esther Newton, Professor of Anthropology, and Harriet Shorr, Professor of Art & Design, will escort the deans, department heads and senior College officials in academic robes representing the institutions from which they received their degrees.  Banners will identify the seating locations of the graduates and their respective schools and conservatories.

President Thomas J. Schwarz will welcome families, friends and officials and will be joined by SUNY officials.

Music for the ceremony will be a first for a Purchase College commencement. The Purchase Latin Jazz Combo will swing to a series of Latin jazz standards.  Night in Tunisia will be performed as a special fanfare during the ceremony.  Music for the processional will include Wave, Recorda-me, Corcovado, Triste and Funji Mama. Music for the recessional will include Woody ’n You and St. Thomas.  Performers include Andrew Gould, saxophone; Dylan Canterbury, trumpet; Sam Lester, guitar; Ian Stewart, bass; and Manuel Weyland, drums.

The National Anthem will be sung by senior Jorell Williams of Brentwood, N.Y.   

The Senior Speaker is film major Erin Gleeson of Philadelphia, Penn. Her talk will emphasize that Purchase is a community where people develop a multitude of talents in addition to the subjects they have come to study:
“Purchase is a place where people refuse to stop growing, where time outside the classroom is just as valuable as inside. As we move on, scatter and settle all across the globe, we must continue to grow and learn and expand our store of knowledge.  Although Purchase fosters this growth by placing such talented people in close proximity, the spirit of Purchase, like the spirits of the individuals that are a part of it, cannot be bottled up.  Our community exists beyond the borders imposed by Brigid Flanigan Drive and Lincoln Avenue.  It dwells within those that dare to keep pushing to attain their goals, within those with the audacity to pursue their dreams.

“When you uproot and advance to new chapters in your lives, don’t hide away like I did when I first got here.  The world needs what you have to offer.  From the day you were born, you began the journey of acquiring knowledge along the way.  Our duty as productive human beings requires us to share that knowledge for the betterment of our own communities and mankind as a whole.  Though this transition we’re facing is a drastic one, we must hold onto everything we’ve experienced on this campus.  Continue to live the way Purchase taught us: dive in, savor every experience and never quit being the motivated, fantastic people I’ve grown to love.” 

A reception for the graduates and their families will follow the ceremony.