Dean Emeritus Galen Pletcher set as Keynote Speaker for SUNY Potsdam Master's Commencement Ceremony May 19


SUNY Potsdam Dean Emeritus Dr. Galen K. Pletcher is set to share wisdom from his years as a professor of philosophy and his leadership as an administrator with this year’s graduating master’s students at the College.

As the featured speaker for the 2012 Master’s Commencement Ceremony, the longtime Dean of The School of Arts and Sciences will deliver the keynote address to 173 master’s graduates, along with their family members and friends. The ceremony will take place at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday, May 19 in the Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music.

“SUNY Potsdam is so proud to welcome back Dean Pletcher as our honored speaker for the master’s ceremony. Galen’s wisdom, as well as his deep affection for this College, have always provided for unique insights to pass along to students. I look forward to hearing what life lessons he might share with our graduating master’s Class of 2012,” said President Dr. John F. Schwaller.

The Dean Emeritus of The School of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Pletcher retired in 2010 after serving in that position for a dedicated 16 years. During his tenure as Dean, Dr. Pletcher was responsible for a large complex School consisting of 17 departments with 187 full-time equivalent faculty members, several interdisciplinary programs, more than 100 major and minor programs and master’s degrees in two areas.

Under Dr. Pletcher’s leadership, the School added numerous new programs and several new degrees. During that time, student full-time equivalent enrollment, the number of faculty members and the number of student majors and minors all increased. Aside from building enrollment and hiring new faculty, Dr. Pletcher worked tirelessly to strengthen curriculum and enhance the profile of the arts and sciences.

His leadership was far-reaching: courses from The School of Arts and Sciences form the core of the College’s general education program and thus affect all of its academic programs. Therefore, Dr. Pletcher’s legacy of leadership has had an impact on the quality of the SUNY Potsdam educational experience for all students. As a passionate advocate for the arts, Dr. Pletcher and his wife, Helen, are known for having been a constant presence at nearly every arts event on campus and in the community.

As Dean, he was deeply involved in plans for the College’s new $48 million Performing Arts Building, which will house the Department of Theatre and Dance, and be one of the region’s premier arts venues. Dr. Pletcher is also known for his honesty and strong sense of ethics. He established a clear and public basis for all complex personnel and departmental considerations. He also drafted a five-year strategic plan for the School that included a new mission statement, goals and objectives and detailed initiatives.

Dr. Pletcher also worked closely with the College’s Division of Advancement to expand the School’s financial resources through generous gifts to establish endowments for scholarships, faculty development and academic programs. He and Helen have long served as ambassadors for the College.

Accordingly, in 2009, Dr. Pletcher was named an honorary alumnus by the SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association, and in 2010, he was presented the Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year Award by College Advancement, in appreciation of his outstanding work with alumni and friends of the College.

The Commencement celebrations will continue on Sunday, May 20, as 749 graduates turn their tassels at the 2012 Bachelor’s Commencement Ceremony in the Academic Quad.

For more information about Commencement weekend at SUNY Potsdam, please visit

Founded in 1816, and located on the outskirts of the beautiful Adirondack Park, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges. SUNY Potsdam currently enrolls approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its handcrafted education, challenging liberal arts and sciences core, excellence in teacher training and leadership in the performing and visual arts.