David Gallo was thumbing through a National Geographic magazine while selling shoes during his formidable years in Albany, N.Y., and came across an article about the world beneath the oceans. That sparked a life-long interest in geology that has placed him among the world’s best-know oceanographers, and Gallo related some of his journey as keynote speaker for Geneseo’s 152nd commencement ceremonies May 12.
“It’s important that we understand the oceans,” said Gallo, senior advisor for strategic initiatives and programs at RMS Titanic Inc., whose son graduated from Geneseo in 2014. “Half of the oxygen on Earth comes from the seas, almost all rainwater comes from the oceans and one-third of the world’s population depends on the oceans for protein. Whatever you do, wherever you go, the oceans will shape your destiny.”
Gallo challenged the graduates to “do all you can do to do as little as possible” to add to the environmental mess his generation is leaving, caused by a lot of bad habits.
“You inheriting a world changing faster than we can understand it – climate is changing, society is changing, much of it driven by technology and commerce…but we’ve never been more aware of our position on this planet or the universe around us. The challenges of a wonderful life ahead are yours to grasp.”
The College conferred an estimated 1,194 degrees this year before a capacity audience of family, friends, faculty and staff.
During the morning ceremony, the College conferred an honorary doctor of science degree upon Gerald Rhodes ’74, who has made significant research and development contributions in the pharmaceutical industry.
“I’ll be forever grateful to the Geneseo Chemistry Department for the preparation it provided me,” said Rhodes. “I gratefully accept this honor on behalf of the many dedicated scientists that I have had the privilege of collaborating with throughout my career.”
The senior orators this year were Samira Salha, an international relations major from New York City, N.Y., and Sarah Jane Phillips, a communication major from Waterford, N.Y.
Receiving the Richard Roark Award was Julia Cameron, a psychology major, human development minor and member of the Edgar Scholars College Honors Program from Sayville, N.Y. The award is presented to a graduating senior whose excellence in scholarship and community service emulates that of Roark, a former Geneseo professor of anthropology who was presumed drowned off the island of Guadeloupe in the French West Indies. Zachariah Barfield, a physics major from Delmar, N.Y., received the President’s Cup, given annually to a graduating senior who exemplifies superior service and dedication to the Geneseo Student Association.