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Undergraduate Commencement 2018

Remarks by President Denise A. Battles, May 12, 2018

Before we formally grant you your degrees, I would like to address a few personal words to all members of the class.

I think we all were relieved when this year’s long winter finally receded and spring settled on the Village as the air warmed and the first flowers of the season opened gratefully to drink in the sun’s rays.

Geneseo came alive as the College Green filled with students lounging, talking, and studying.

The student body symbolically shook off the accumulated snow and stomped their boots, as coats and hats gave way to short sleeves and shorts, and adventurous professors took their classes outside to engage in the open air.

For many of you who are graduating today, the return of the spring sparked a renewed spirit of class camaraderie and excitement about the end of semester and what lies ahead.

Some of you will immediately enter the job market to begin your careers in business, teaching, and research.

Others will continue their educations at the best Master’s and doctoral programs in this country and the world, while still others will spread out across the country and the globe as teachers, researchers, and volunteers with service-oriented organizations like the Peace Corps, US Student Fulbright, and Americorps.

Each spring, the College unleashes its best and brightest, amazing and talented graduates who take their diplomas in hand and set out to become tomorrow’s leaders and innovators in boardrooms, classrooms, laboratories, academic institutions, and myriad other venues.

The potential in this room is inspiring.

We have seen you grow from first year students bursting with potential into formidable seniors who have taken on difficult challenges as undergraduates:  among them, scholars facing rigorous and stimulating coursework, intercollegiate athletes overcoming fierce opponents, and creative performers mastering their craft in concert and on stage.

The talent I see arrayed before me is poised to do great things, to live lives devoted to community and the betterment others, here and across the world.

I often say that Geneseo students are never just one thing but four or five, six or seven.

Your interests are many, your talents varied, and you have much to offer.

I cannot wait to see what you will do next.

The Class of 2018 has made its mark, set the bar, and taken on all challengers.

On this, my third commencement day, I could not be prouder to be President of Geneseo.

We have done and seen much together but, throughout, have never lost sight of what it means to One Knight, a community united by the promise and realization of Geneseo, one of the finest public liberal arts colleges in the nation.

One Knight has become a kind of shorthand, a watchword, a simple phrase signifying the essence of the Geneseo experience and the extraordinary individuals who live, work, and study at the College.

Carry the spirit of One Knight with you as you depart Geneseo, for today you join an exclusive club with an accomplished and devoted membership that spans almost 150 years.    

On this day and every other since my first moment on the job, I am honored to be the President of Geneseo.

The Class of 2018 has much to be proud of.

Here are just a few of your accomplishments:

In the past four years, SUNY Geneseo held some of the nation’s most successful Relay for Life collegiate events, and the largest in New York, raising over $800,000 for the American Cancer Society. This achievement has consistently earned us a place among the top 25 college Relay events nationally.

Just this year, Geneseo students were awarded a record-breaking 20 nationally and internationally competitive fellowships and scholarships, including prestigious Goldwater, Gilman and National Science Foundation Graduate honors.

For the first time in the College’s history, SUNY Geneseo was named a Top Producer of U.S. Student Fulbright awards for 2017-18, the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

SUNY Geneseo continues to be ranked nationally for its academic strength, undergraduate research, talented students, and outstanding reputation for excellence in publications such as US News & World Report, Princeton Review, and Fiske.

Last month at the annual GREAT Day event, we saw close to 1,000 students present their research, scholarly, and/or creative work, with many of those presenters being among you, the Class of 2018.

We enhanced our relationship with Letchworth State Park to launch the Humphrey Nature Center. The partnership has augmented the opportunities for hands-on educational experiences and research by our students and faculty, opportunities many of you chose to pursue.

In the last four years of intercollegiate athletics, the Class has celebrated seven NCAA individual national champions, 36 SUNYAC championships, four SUNYAC Commissioner Cups, the highest-ever Learfield Sports Director’s Cup standings, and witnessed the opening of a state of the art College Stadium.

For the fourth straight year, Geneseo is ranked among the top 20 medium-sized schools for producing Peace Corps volunteers.  That achievement is all the more impressive since “medium-sized” is defined as colleges and universities with 5,000 to 15,000 undergraduate students, meaning most of those institutions have enrollments far larger than Geneseo. 

Many of you also volunteered through Livingston CARES, assisting with relief and recovery   efforts in the aftermath of hurricanes that devastate communities in Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas. With over 4,400 Geneseo students engaging in over 200,000 of community service hours each year, it’s no wonder that we consistently earn a place on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

You, the Class of 2018, have done much in your time here at Geneseo.

So, before you head out on your journeys, I will close by saying to all of you….Well done and keep in touch.