SUNY Potsdam Awards 753 Bachelor's Degrees at Commencement


Excited graduates Cheer
Graduates gathered to cheer before lining up to process into the Commencement celebration in SUNY Potsdam’s Academic Quad.

The State University of New York at Potsdam marked a day of new beginnings at the 2013 Bachelor’s Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 19. SUNY Potsdam awarded 753 baccalaureate degrees, and bade farewell to outgoing President Dr. John F. Schwaller, who is leaving the College after seven years of service.

The graduates of the Class of 2013 cheered as they turned their tassels and began to cross the stage in the Academic Quad in the shade of the Satterlee Hall clock tower.

“As you prepare to embark on your new adventure, Anne and I, too, are preparing for a new beginning, another phase of our own journey. We have loved our seven years with you all. Most of you we greeted as new freshmen,” Dr. Schwaller said. “I am so very grateful to the phenomenal students, faculty and staff here at Potsdam for allowing me to serve you and to join you for this time together on our journey. You have enriched our lives and inspired us with your creativity and your discipline.”

Student Government Association President Ryan Williams ’13 thanked the Schwallers on behalf of the College in his remarks, presenting them with a commemorative chair for their office. Williams received his bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in politics, with a minor in pre-law.

“My friends and peers, I thank you for everything. I hope we can all depart from this common time, and continue on our individual paths as we journey through life, and change the world for the better—no matter how big or small the change,” Williams said.

Colonel Thomas H. Palmatier ’75, the leader and commander of the U.S. Army Band, addressed the graduates after receiving his honorary Doctor of Music degree. The Crane School of Music alumnus confessed that he was pretty nervous when he began to prepare his speech.

“During my more than three and a half decades in uniform, I’ve participated in probably thousands of ceremonies where speeches were given by a wide range of orators, to include six different Presidents of the United States, Emperors, Kings, Queens, Presidents, Prime Ministers, and more Generals and Admirals than I could ever count. Once I realized that I really don’t remember what a single one of them had to say, that took a lot of pressure off me today,” Palmatier said, laughing.

Palmatier, who is the ninth commander of the U.S. Army Band, “Pershing’s Own,” is currently the senior military musician in the Department of Defense. He shared that he never could have imagined such a future for himself when he was crossing the stage at his own Commencement.’

“Don’t make this an ending, make it a beginning. I have to tell you, I have had a life far more wonderful than anything I dreamt of while here at Potsdam,” he said. “I’ve been present at and had some small role in events that are already written in history books. I’ve led world-class musical performances while also having the great privilege of serving my country. Hopefully, you will also have a life that far exceeds what you can dream of now. Indeed, the worst thing you can do is limit yourself to what you can conceive.”

Jeffrey Washburn ’79, President of the SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association, welcomed the graduates into the ranks of the College’s 38,000 graduates worldwide.

“On behalf of the Alumni Association, I would like to congratulate the Class of 2013 on your many accomplishments to date, and wish you the best as you move on the next stage of your life. We hope that you will set new and lofty goals, and strive to fulfill them all,” Washburn said.

The ceremony concluded with the conferring of baccalaureate degrees to 753 students, including Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees.

SUNY Potsdam also graduated 138 master’s graduates this weekend, in its eighth annual Master’s Commencement Ceremony, held on Saturday, May 18 in the Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall at The Crane School of Music.

To read the Commencement programs from this year’s celebrations at SUNY Potsdam, 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.