June 13, 2012
Media contact: David Henahan, director of communications
518-587-2100, ext. 2918
(OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. – June 13, 2012) SUNY Empire State College will host its annual graduation ceremony for the Long Island region at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 16, in the Tilles Center on the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University.
More than 270 students from the college’s Long Island region, including seven students who have earned master’s degrees, are eligible to participate. They are among the more than 3,300 graduates from across the state in the record-setting class of 2012.
The keynote speaker this year is Melba Tolliver ’98, a former journalist and anchor for WABC-TV, WNBC-TV and News 12 Long Island.
The program also includes two student speakers, Dolores Bond and Andrew Calderaro, who will reflect on their experiences with the college’s unique approaches to higher education.
“Sharing the joy of our graduates and their friends and family is the highlight of the college year,” said Alan R. Davis, president of the college. “My congratulations go out to the students of the Long Island Center and my appreciation goes to the college’s faculty mentors and staff who have supported their hard work.”
“It is a joy to celebrate the graduation of adult students who take their studies seriously and, often, must overcome life's challenges to complete their degrees,” said Michael Spitzer, dean of the college’s Long Island Center.
Many students who started their undergraduate education elsewhere finish their degrees with Empire State College. The college's innovative design provides flexible options that allow faculty mentors to work with undergraduate students to design their degree program to meet their educational, career and personal goals.
In addition to credit transferred from previous college experience, students very often bring with them learning gained through training at the workplace, in service to the military and other life experiences. The college assesses this knowledge and in many cases awards credit for college-level learning, which saves time and money.
At the graduate level, students also work closely with faculty to plan their degrees across a range of program and certificate options. A growing number of graduate students enroll with the college each year, taking advantage of the flexibility of approach and the ability to earn a graduate degree while exploring their intellectual and professional interests.
“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," said Robert Clougherty, dean of the School for Graduate Studies. “The School for Graduate Studies is proud of all 201 graduates across the state this year.”
In April, 1967, when on-air personnel at the three broadcast networks went on strike, ABC News executives tapped Tolliver to substitute for Marlene Sanders, anchor of “News With The Woman’s Touch.” Thus, Tolliver became the first black person ever to anchor a network news program.
For nearly three decades, Tolliver reported and/or anchored news at WABC-TV, WNBC-TV, News 12 Long Island and the Food Channel, in addition to writing for USA Today, Good Housekeeping, Black Sports and other magazines and newspapers.
She also was host and reporter for the ABC Network series, “Americans All”; the WABC Eyewitness News series “Profiles,” “People, Places and Things” and “Consciousness Rising”; and writer/producer of “Gordon Parks: Man For All Seasons” for the WABC public affairs program, “Like It Is.” At WNBC, Tolliver created and hosted the public affairs program “Meet The People.”
She has been recognized with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Molloy College, Long Island, N.Y.; a political reporting award from Lincoln University; a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York Association of Black Journalists; the John B. Russwurm Award from the New York City Urban League; the Matrix Award from New York Women in Communications; and a National Endowment of the Humanities Fellowship to the University of Michigan.
Tolliver holds a Bachelor of Science from Empire State College, of the State University of New York, and a nursing diploma from New York University-Bellevue, New York City.
She has served on the boards of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in New York, the Empire State College Foundation and the Institute for Student Achievement advisory board.
A longtime resident of Ft. Greene, Brooklyn, Tolliver moved to Lower Mt. Bethel Township, Pa. in 1994 and is currently at work on her memoir, “Äccidental Anchorwoman: Chance, Choice and Change.”
Dolores Bond earned her Bachelor of Arts in Community and Human Services and was nominated to speak by professors Toni Raiten-D’Antonio and KD Eaglefeathers. Bond is a recovered drug addict and alcoholic who survived various physical and emotional abuses from childhood throughout adulthood.
She has five children and five grandchildren. She states that her life changed about 10 years ago when she came out of a coma, surrendered her life to Christ and chose to look forward and never return to the life she had.
A social worker told her about SUNY Empire State College; she resumed her education in 2008 and has volunteered her time in a recovery house for women.
Bonds is approaching the age of 60; her mother, 83, will attend the ceremony. Bond’s father, 85, whom she refers to as “Daddy,” suffered a stroke and is too ill to make the trip from his nursing home, but is very much aware she is about to graduate. Bond and her mother plan to visit him immediately after the ceremony.
Bond points out with pride that both her parents have been completely supportive of her returning to Empire State College to earn her degree and share with her strong emotions of pride and satisfaction.
“Nothing is impossible if you want it badly enough,” declares Bond.
Andrew Calderaro earned his Bachelor of Arts in American History and Politics with a 3.89 GPA under the mentorship of Professor Ian Reifowitz this past December.
While at the college, Calderaro presented his paper, “By Whatever Means: Black Americans’ Arduous Pursuit of Literacy During American Reconstruction,” at the college’s seventh annual Student Academic Conference.
He also was a nominee for the 2012 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Academic Excellence. Calderaro is the founder and director of Courage Long Island, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit dedicated to fighting mood disorders. Accepted to Columbia University, New York University and Hunter College, Calderaro will begin a Master in Social Work program at Hunter’s Silberman School of Social Work this fall.
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.
David M. Henahan, Director of Communications 518-587-2100, ext. 2918 David.Henahan@esc.edu
518-321-7038(after 5 p.m. and weekends)