SUNY Potsdam Honors Lisa Vroman with Honorary Doctorate


L to R: Provost Margaret Madden, honorary doctorate recipient Lisa Vroman ’79 and SUNY Potsdam President John F. Schwaller on stage at The Crane School of Music.

Lisa Vroman ’79 earned her second degree from SUNY Potsdam recently—an honorary doctorate. Fittingly for the world-renowned soprano, she was presented with the honor on stage, following a Reunion Weekend recital at her alma mater.

In a special recital entitled “How Can I Keep From Singing?,” Vroman sang alongside Crane School of Music Dean Dr. Michael Sitton, who performed on piano. The concert opened with a recording from her senior recital at Crane, when she sang “Je Veux Vivre” from “Roméo et Juliette” on the same Sara M. Snell Music Theater stage.

Vroman performed a variety of arrangements and compositions by contemporary composers. She also welcomed on stage two fellow SUNY Potsdam graduates to join her. Dale A. Zurbrick ’68 read poetry before Vroman presented the words set to music, and Melissa Wegner ’03 joined her for a duet on stage as well.

Following the recital, SUNY Potsdam President Dr. John F. Schwaller and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Margaret Madden joined Vroman on stage to present her with the honorary Doctorate of Music from the State University of New York. Dr. Madden laid the hood over Vroman’s shoulders, to much applause.

An Adams, N.Y., native, Lisa Vroman graduated from South Jefferson Central School before going on to attend SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, earning her bachelor’s degree in music education before receiving an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University.

She went on to star for several years on Broadway, as Christine Daaé in “The Phantom of the Opera.” She garnered Theatre Critic’s Awards for the role in a record-breaking run in San Francisco, and did her final engagement at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. She is also known for her roles as Rosalinda in “Die Fledermaus,” and both Fantine and Cosette in “Les Misérables.”

Her solo CD, “Broadway Classic,” features Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe ’92 and 47 of San Francisco’s finest orchestral players. Vroman had the honor of singing at the Profiles in Courage Award dinner in Boston at the JFK Library, as a guest of the Kennedy family. She has also sung on separate occasions for Queen Elizabeth, former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore.

Last season, Vroman was the soprano soloist in the Brahms Requiem with the Symphony of Silicon Valley; had trips to Abu Dhabi with the BBC Concert Orchestra with Keith Lockhart conducting, and traveled to Santander, Spain, with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops. She also performed in New York City Opera’s VOX, a program of readings of new opera compositions, broadcast on NYC’s WQXR classical radio station. She had the honor of being a judge in the finals of the Lotte Lenya Competition for the Kurt Weill Foundation at the Eastman School of Music, along with Timothy Nolen and Rob Berman. She was also honored to perform the works of composer Jack Gottlieb in recital at the Library of Congress’s Coolidge Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

Upcoming engagements include concerts in Miami, Fort Meyers, San Francisco, Pasadena, Greenville, Las Vegas, Washington D.C., Paris, Taipei and Kuala Lumpur, as well as her first opportunity to play the role of Anna Leonowens in “The King and I” with the Lyric Opera of Virginia.

Vroman was also the recipient of the 1999 Minerva Award from the SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association, the highest honor given to graduates of the College. She lives in Pasadena, Calif., with her husband Patrick O’Neil and their dog Romeo.

To learn more about Lisa Vroman, visit

For more information about SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music and its accomplished graduates, visit

Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures and concerts presented by faculty, students and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York’s only All-Steinway institution.