College hosts 108th graduation ceremony in chilly, wet Pioneer Stadium

ALFRED – With the temperature in the low 40s and a drenching rain making its soaking presence felt, Pioneer Stadium on the campus of Alfred State College had the look and feel of a big fall football showdown on Sunday.

There was no game, but the cheers and enthusiasm easily matched the response to a game-winning touchdown by the home team as Alfred State College hosted its 108th commencement exercises on a soaked athletic field.

Dr. Skip Sullivan, president of Alfred State College, presided as degrees were conferred to some 850 graduates.

In a concession to the rain and the cold, the college conducted an abbreviated ceremony. Graduating students were encouraged to forego the solemn pace of the typical march of graduates for a brisk procession as the Alfred State Concert Band performed “Pomp and Circumstance.”

“You should walk quickly. This is not going to be a wedding march,” Sullivan informed graduates as he walked through a line of capped and gowned students waiting out the final minutes before the ceremony.

The student speaker was Hannah Weaver, of Spencerport, a May 2019 graduate of the business administration baccalaureate degree program. Weaver has served as a civic engagement advocate, civic connections coordinator, and student vice president of community, and was named a Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Contact.

Weaver said the graduates have shown their dedication by earning degrees, and that perseverance will be needed in the years ahead.

“Remember the sacrifices you made to get this far,” Weaver said. “It may take a lot of work to chase the dream you have. You are the only one who can make that happen. Your options are limitless.”

Alfred State conferred an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to Goya Foods Great Lakes President and former College Council member Robert Drago.

Another major component of the ceremony was the presentation of the Paul B. Orvis Award for Excellence to five graduating students. The award honors Paul B. Orvis, a former president of Alfred State and State University of New York dean for two-year colleges. Recipients must meet the criteria of service, leadership, character, and scholarship.

Receiving the award were Ryan Shipherd, Randolph (School of Applied Technology associate degree recipient); Hannah Weaver, Spencerport (School of Architecture, Management and Engineering Technology baccalaureate degree recipient); Susan Perry, Olean (School of Architecture, Management and Engineering Technology associate degree recipient); Coral Smith, Kings Park (School of Arts and Sciences baccalaureate degree recipient); and Brooke Licata, Conesus (School of Arts and Sciences associate degree recipient).

Abigail Campbell, a construction management graduate from Geneseo, sang a rousing rendition of the national anthem, and the Alfred State Men’s Quartet performed the college’s alma mater.