May 31, 2012

SUNY Empire State College Niagara Frontier Center Holds Graduation Ceremony

More than 200 students, including 10 who have earned master's degrees, will participate.

(BUFFALO, N.Y. – May 29, 2012) SUNY Empire State College will host its annual graduation ceremony for the Niagara Frontier region at 10 a.m., Saturday, June 2, at Rockwell Hall at Buffalo State College.

More than 220 students will participate in the ceremony, including 10 who have earned a master’s degree. Chief of Detectives for the Buffalo Police, Dennis Richards ‘01, will serve as the student speaker and Kim Backey, director of child and adult food care for the Child Care Resource Network, will serve as the alumni speaker.

They are among the more than 3,300 graduates from the record-setting class of 2012.

“Sharing the joy of our graduates and their friends and family is the highlight of the college year,” said President Alan Davis. “My congratulations go out to the students of the Niagara Frontier Center and my appreciation goes to the college’s faculty mentors and staff who have supported their hard work.”

"Attaining a college degree is a tremendous achievement, especially when our students also work, support their families, and contribute to their communities at the same time," said college Vice Provost Deborah P. Amory.  "There are no better college students or alumni in the country. We are extremely proud of this incredible achievement.”

“Empire State College has many alumni who contribute to the quality of life in Western New York. We’re delighted to have these alumni  –  Chief of Detectives Richards and Kim Backey – address this year’s graduates,” Dean Nan DiBello said.  

“The School for Graduate Studies is proud of all 201 graduates across the state this year,” said R.J. Clougherty, dean of the college’s School for Graduate Studies.  “Our pride is dual in that given our service to working professionals, not only have our students succeeded academically, but so many of them have advanced in their careers as a result of completing their degrees."

The college serves more than 1,700 students in the Niagara Frontier region and has more than 4,700 alumni living in the area. 

About Chief of Detectives Dennis Richards

Dennis Richards, of Buffalo, is a 2001 graduate of the college with a B.S. in community and human services and is currently a graduate student. He has served with the Buffalo police since 1977 and as chief of detectives since 2006. In May of this year he was named Law Enforcement Officer of the Year during the annual Judges and Police Conference of Erie County.

Of his time at Empire State College, he notes, “As a career law-enforcement officer, I can attest that Empire State College has helped me to advance through the ranks in the Buffalo Police Department. I keep learning new things, every day. Empire State College is truly the school for working adults.”   

Referring to Richards’ master’s thesis, college faculty mentor Dr. Jason Russell, noted, “Dennis is a dedicated student, and he chose to pursue a very relevant final project topic that builds on the knowledge that he acquired through his years in police work.”

Richards will graduate with his Master of Arts in Social Policy. Married for the past 27 years, he is the father of four.

About Kimberly Backey

Backey has more than 15 years of supervisory, management and leadership experience. She has taught a diverse group of adults in various capacities including individual classes, seminars, off-site classes and technical assistance.

Backey has developed and implemented professional-development workshops for child-care providers in the areas of health and nutrition. 

Currently, Backey is the director of the child and adult care food program at the Child Care Resource Network in Erie County. She is responsible for maintaining program integrity and administering and overseeing a financial budget of more than 1.5 million dollars.

Backey ’08 graduated with a B.S. in business management and received her E.M.B.A. from the State University of New York at Buffalo. 

Additional information about all of the college’s graduation ceremonies is available here.

About SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College was established in 1971 to offer adult learners the opportunity to earn associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career. Students engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to learn at the time, place and pace they choose.

The college serves more than 20,000 students worldwide at more than 35 locations in New York state and online. Its 63,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.

More information about the college is available here.

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