A sea of smiles flooded the Academic Quad as more than 550 SUNY Potsdam students crossed the stage to receive their bachelor’s degrees during the College’s 175th Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 17.
The ceremony included addresses by Commencement keynote speakers and honorary degree recipients Joe Lamond, President and CEO of NAMM, the International Music Products Association, and Chuck Lorre, television show creator, executive producer and writer.
During his remarks, Lamond offered the graduates some advice on the way they choose to live their lives and how they can make the world a better place.
“One of my goals had always been to live a life less ordinary. My path has taken me around the world many times over. I’ve met so many of my musical heroes, including two Beatles. I’ve had the opportunity to see how music can impact a young life and change schools and communities for the better. Not just here but elsewhere,” Lamond said.
“Whatever you imagine might happen in your future, my bet is that you will be pleasantly surprised at how much cooler it will really be.
“So if you’ll take the leap of faith and follow the advice of a drummer, I’ll conclude with this: If you already have your life planned out, good for you. If you don’t, that’s OK too. I am a career counselor’s worst nightmare. But I’ve learned that this world has a place and welcomes with open arms those who fearlessly, passionately and even recklessly pursue a life less ordinary,” Lamond said.
Lorre stressed the importance of thinking of others in a positive way rather than being consumed with oneself and what others think of you.
“You can see the world as it's being portrayed on the nightly news: frightening and risky, or you can see it as it really is: filled with opportunity,” he said.
“I recommend that you free yourself from worrying about what other people think of you. And here's why. They’re not thinking about you,” Lorre noted.
“They’re too busy thinking about themselves and worrying about what you might think of them. Consider for a moment what that means. When you're around people who are completely obsessed with themselves, you are granted the super power of invisibility.
“Don’t waste your life striving for goal-oriented happiness. Strive to be present. To be alert. To be truly conscious of what's going on around you... and within you. If you can do that, on a day-to-day, sometimes moment-to-moment basis, your happiness and peace of mind will never be held hostage by future imaginary events. In fact, if you can train yourself to live in the present moment, happiness just happens, wherever you are, whatever you're doing.
“I guarantee you that if you honestly work towards the wellbeing and peace of mind of your friends, family and co-workers, your well-being and peace of mind will be taken care of,” he said.
Dr. John F. Schwaller, president of SUNY Potsdam, shared his thoughts on the historical meaning of the day.
“This is an especially important moment in the life of this institution,” Dr. Schwaller noted. “This year, we celebrate 193 years of service to northern New York and the region. This year marks the 175th anniversary of state support for teacher education here at Potsdam, although from the very beginning in 1816 we were producing teachers for the schools of the state and northland.
“But today, we are so very proud of all of you: the graduates who took only three years, the normal plan graduates who leave us after four years, the extended plan graduates who took five years, and even those of you who graduated in your own time,” he said.
George Arnold, SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association president and 1992 SUNY Potsdam alumnus, spoke to the graduates and welcomed them into the ranks of the Alumni Association that boasts 37,000 members worldwide.
Andrew Brouwer of Potsdam, the academic honoree, and Matthew Cotty of Lindenhurst, outgoing Student Government Association president, also shared their thoughts with their fellow graduates.
Dr. Schwaller opened the ceremony by honoring Dr. Judith Ranlett, professor emerita of history, by recognizing her with the College’s highest honor, the Roger B. Linden Distinguished Service Award.
The College’s Commencement Ceremony concluded with the conferring of baccalaureate degrees to the approximately 600 graduates.
SUNY Potsdam also saw approximately 250 master’s students graduate in the fourth annual Master’s Commencement Ceremony on May 16.
View more photos of the Bachelor's Ceremony.