SUNY Cortland’s seniors and graduate students will advance to the next stage in their lives during Commencement weekend, May 12 to 13.
The university’s graduate Commencement ceremony will take place Friday, May 12. Three undergraduate Commencement ceremonies will be held on Saturday, May 13.
Commencement ceremonies will be in the Bessie L. Park 1901 Physical Education and Recreation Center Alumni Arena.
Undergraduate ceremonies will be held at 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on May 13. The graduate ceremony starts at 7 p.m. on May 12. Undergraduate receptions following the first two ceremonies will start at 11 a.m. and at 4 p.m. on May 13 in Lusk Field House.
A total of 1,498 seniors applied to graduate during the 2022-23 academic year. An estimated total of 1,164 of them will don cap and gown to receive bachelor’s degrees during the three undergraduate ceremonies.
The university also will award 237 master’s degrees and 20 Certificates of Advanced Study.
“Commencement is a time of great pride on campus,” university President Erik J. Bitterbaum said. “For students, their families, the faculty and for SUNY Cortland as an institution, it gives us all a wonderful sense of satisfaction to imagine the future accomplishments ahead of our graduates and to know they will make a positive difference in whatever endeavors they pursue.”
This year, the 10 most popular majors at SUNY Cortland are: physical education (194), early childhood and childhood education (148), exercise science (134), sport management (117), psychology (96), inclusive childhood education (92), business economics (83), communication studies (74), criminology (52) and speech and hearing science (51).
This year’s undergraduate Commencement speakers are Regina B. Grantham, an associate professor in the Communication Disorders and Sciences Department; Robert S. Darling, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor and Geology Department faculty member; and Anne Burns Thomas, a professor in the Foundations and Social Advocacy Department.
Grantham, winner of a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service, will present at 9:30 a.m. during the first ceremony. An innovative leader in speech-language pathology for more than 50 years at the local, regional, state and national levels, the longtime department chair facilitated its relocation to the Professional Studies Building and led the creation of a master’s degree program in speech-language pathology in 2013. The American Speech Language and Hearing Association honored Grantham with the title of fellow, among the profession’s highest awards. She is a passionate advocate and voice for antiracism, equity and social justice.
Darling, a noted scholar and teacher who consistently finds new ways to engage his students, will speak at the 2:30 p.m. ceremony. Recognized with the Distinguished Teaching Professor title in 2013, he received the 1999 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Darling has authored many scientific journal articles, guidebook articles and conference abstracts, lectured at universities and professional organizations across the state and been the recipient of grants, including three from the National Science Foundation. A past president for the New York State Geological Association, he has been a research associate in mineralogy for the New York State Museum.
Burns Thomas, who is passionate about researching inequities in the U.S. educational system and supporting the next generation of teachers, will speak at the 7 p.m. ceremony. She serves as program coordinator for Cortland’s Urban Recruitment of Educators (C.U.R.E.), which provides scholarship support for students who pledge to teach in high-need schools. Burns Thomas is responsible for more than $2 million in funding for scholarships and research, including nearly $1 million in grant funding for expanding access to the C.U.R.E. program through 2026. She received a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2022.
Marissa Baugh ’22, M ’23, of Joliet, Illinois, a candidate for Master of Science in Literacy (B-12), will deliver the Graduate Commencement speech. Baugh graduated summa cum laude in 2022 with dual bachelor’s degrees in inclusive childhood education and Spanish. She completed one of SUNY Cortland’s prestigious Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships in 2021 on SUNY Cortland's Cuernavaca, Mexico, short-term study abroad program. She aspires to teach special education in the Syracuse, N.Y., area for several years, and ultimately to pursue a doctorate in education.
On Saturday, Bitterbaum also will present a rare honor, the university’s Presidential Champion of Excellence Award, to Johanna Ames, the fourth-generation president of her family’s business, Ames Linen Service. She served as vice chair of the Cortland College Foundation board of directors and co-chair of the university’s recent, successful capital campaign, “All In.” Ames’ service earned her the 2018 SUNY Cortland College Council’s College Community Appreciation Award.
SUNY Cortland has graduated more than 86,000 students, and this year’s graduates are joining the ranks of alumni who reside in all 50 states and nearly 60 countries. Daniel Walker ’06, president of the SUNY Cortland Alumni Association, will address the university’s newest alumni after each ceremony.
The university does not require face coverings in most public indoor spaces. Any guests who are feeling ill or have symptoms of COVID-19 are asked to stay home. Visitors may learn more about the university’s COVID-19 policies online.
Details on all 2023 Commencement ceremonies, including links to live video streams of the events, are available on SUNY Cortland’s Commencement website.