Welcome graduates, families, friends, faculty and staff. I am very pleased to be here with you today. I am John Schwaller, the new President of SUNY Potsdam. Given a curious mix of events I have begun my service to the College a bit sooner than anyone had anticipated, but I could not be happier being here with you. This is a wonderful college and I am honored to have been chosen to work with the faculty, students, and staff as we move into a new era in the history of SUNY Potsdam.
This is an especially important moment in the life of this institution. This year, we celebrate 190 years of service to northern New York and the region. Beyond that, yesterday we held the first-ever Graduate Commencement Ceremony of the College. It is truly a defining moment in the history of the campus. The growth of graduate programs has reached a level where we needed to have a ceremony just for the recognition of graduate degrees. This means that today’s ceremony will focus solely on those receiving the baccalaureate degrees. We are so very proud of all of you, our graduates who took only three years, the normal plan graduates who leave after four years, the extended plan graduates who took five years and even those of you who took your own time. Congratulations!
There are two notions that I hope will help you along the way. As you graduates go out into the world you have a unique opportunity to reinvent yourselves. Armed now with your degrees and experience you truly can become the person you wish to be, leaving behind the personas you acquired in grade school, high school, and college. Secondly, you are going to be OK. Armed with your experiences from SUNY Potsdam, with the knowledge you have gained here, the friends you’ve made among your peers and the faculty, and with your own families to support you, everything will be OK. So I charge you to take a long look at yourself. This graduation provides you with a unique opportunity to make a new beginning. Promise yourself that tomorrow and thereafter you will be the person you want to be. Reinvent yourself to live up to your own expectations for yourself. You can do this secure in the knowledge that you are going to be OK.
Lastly, as you leave this place, remember that you will always be part of our SUNY Potsdam family. Become active in our Alumni Association. Let the world know how much the education and experiences you had here mean to you. As Garrison Keillor always says “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.” Congratulations to you all.