ALBANY, NY - It was a day for celebrating outstanding accomplishments, determination of will, decades of service, and exceptional futures.
The College of Saint Rose celebrated its 91st Annual Commencement today with addresses from Harry Rosenfeld, editor-at-large and former editor of the Times Union, and Daniel P. Nolan, chair of the Saint Rose board of trustees, and by awarding degrees and certificates of advanced study to 1,729 students.
The ceremony was held in the Times Union Center in Albany and attended by nearly 750 students.
Honorary degrees were awarded to Rosenfeld and Nolan.
In addition, the College bestowed the Carondelet Medal, its highest honor, on Interim President Dr. Margaret M. “Maggie” Kirwin. Kirwin has filled nearly every top academic post in her 40 years at Saint Rose, including the past year as the College’s first lay woman president.
In his address to the graduates, Rosenfeld stressed the importance of good citizenship and exhorted them to take up the challenge of making the nation a better place.
“As in times of war we are called to arms, so at all times we are summoned to practice good citizenship. It has to be a self-imposed duty, as nothing but a personal sense of obligation can compel it. You are not expected to cure all ills. You are expected to try to diminish them and help to make this a better country. Your nation counts on you. Go out and give it your best shot!” Rosenfeld declared.
Rosenfeld also revealed the “secret formula” he used to overcome challenges that seemed unsolvable. He called it “Hard Work.”
“The hard work I mean for you involves bringing to bear concentration and perseverance to difficult tasks, and unknotting apparently daunting challenges by applying astute analyses honed over time. You have to train for this kind of work, the way an athlete preps for a competition or a soldier goes through basic training. It requires shaping up the muscles of your mind – which you have – along with an embossed certificate to prove it. So don’t ever be shy about using it,” said Rosenfeld.
Nolan, a philanthropist, wealth manager and prominent business leader, has served on the Saint Rose board of trustees 1990 and has chaired it since 2003. In July, he will step down as chair but remain on the board. In conferring him an honorary degree, the College recognized Nolan for his financial savvy, his personal generosity to the College and support of Saint Rose students. With it, Nolan said he now fit in nearly every category at Saint Rose, including trustee, donor, honorary alumnus and teacher.
“I’ve checked every box except ‘student,’” Nolan noted in accepting the honorary degree, “and I’m seriously considering checking that last box, by taking some classes. My only concern is when I hand in my application whether I’d be successful,” given the high caliber of Saint Rose students.
Nolan said in his experience in business, two ingredients lead to success: “a great team and great enthusiasm.”
“This is the hardest working, most engaged board seated right here,” Nolan declared.
In keeping with his practice, Nolan later shook the hand of every graduating student to cross the stage.
In her first and only commencement as interim president since she assumed the role in 2013, Kirwin urged the graduates to savor the moment and embrace the spotlight.
“There are few times in your lives when you will be in the middle of a place this size, surrounded by thousands of people, all of whom are focused on you, are happy for you and are hopeful for you and your future. You are in the middle of a ring of pride! And, you deserve it!” Kirwin said.
Today’s degree recipients hail from 20 states and 18 countries. They join nearly 37,000 alumni of Saint Rose living in 49 states and the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and 26 countries. More than 50 percent of the College’s alumni live and work in the Capital Region.