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Presidential Speeches

Commencement Remarks by President Andrew J. Matonak, Ed.D.

Remarks by President Andrew J. Matonak, Ed.D.
Hudson Valley Community College
53rd Commencement
Saturday, May 19, 2007

  • Welcome again to our honored guests, faculty, staff, family, friends and most importantly, members of the Class of 2007, to Hudson Valley Community College's 53rd Commencement.
  • I would also like to extend the greetings from Dr. Robert Hill, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Bob was unable to join us today, but asked me to congratulate all of our graduates, particularly his niece, Lauren Hill.
  • Class of 2007. You have the distinction of being the largest graduating class in the college's 53-year history. 1,805 students will receive either associate degrees or certificates from one of the college's 70 academic programs. Now that explains why you could never find a parking space.
    • Additionally, more than 32,000 SUNY community college students will walk across a stage this month to receive their diploma. Among them will be SUNY's one-millionth community college success story. While every college is celebrating this milestone in their own way, at Hudson Valley, I believe that all of you deserve that special distinction. So, graduates, you are all unique, and you are all more than "one in a million." You are the one-millionth graduate. Congratulations!
    • Students, I know that your academic achievements did not come without a price…and it did not come without lots of support from your parents, children, brothers, sisters, best friends, spouses, and others.
  • To our guests: You have played an important role in your student's life, and in his or her success. I thank you for everything you have done – at home, behind the scenes, to support your graduate. Now, I would like to ask all of our graduates to please stand, face your family members, and thank them for all of their support.
  • In a few minutes, I will have the pleasure of introducing to you this year's Commencement speaker, Robert M. Chiusano, recently retired executive vice president for Rockwell Collins, a global, Fortune 500-company. In 1970, Bob was in your shoes … finishing one part of his life and ready to embark upon the next.
  • I doubt whether Bob ever imagined at the time that he would return to his first alma mater 37 years after earning his degree to address a new generation of Hudson Valley graduates.
  • It's very possible that he thought, as many of you may think at this moment, that commencement is an event that opens the door to the future, while it simultaneously closes one on the past.
  • You may think that your Hudson Valley experience ends today when you leave campus today. But, like many alumni, Bob came back. Why? Because Hudson Valley Community College made an indelible mark on his life, just as it has done to each and every one of you. How can I say that with such confidence?
  • … Because alumni who have come before you proudly consider this college their first academic love. They speak passionately about finding a home here, in classrooms that felt like families and with faculty members who really cared. Faculty members who empowered them to achieve beyond your wildest expectations.
  • … Because they graciously shared your experiences with me, just have you have, over lunch in the Campus Center, in the hallway, or during my visits to your classes. Frequently, I ask our students and alumni "How can we make your Hudson Valley experience better"? Second only to "improve the parking" is the response " Make Hudson Valley a four-year college." They say that because they love it here, and they love it here, because of our wonderful faculty and staff.
  • Our faculty and staff are the heart and soul of this institution. Every day, they see the tangible results of their commitment to our students. They instill pride … they infuse passion …they provide support …and impart wisdom. They make a life-changing difference in the lives of our students.
  • May I ask the best faculty and staff in the entire SUNY system to please stand?

[Lead the audience in applause.]

  • Graduates, Hudson Valley has made its mark on each and every one of you. And now it's your turn to make your mark on your communities.
  • Today, you join the ranks of those whose lives have been changed by their Hudson Valley experience, whether they are one of the more than 63,000 Hudson Valley graduates or one of 300,000 who have come to this college for one course, one semester, or one summer, and left a stronger, smarter person.
  • From every corner of this campus, there are people who have guided you, challenged you, supported your efforts and championed your cause. And that support doesn't end when you leave here today. To help me illustrate that point, I'd like to ask all of the Hudson Valley alumni in the audience to stand – parents, family members and friends of today's graduates, along with faculty and staff.

[Allow for standing.]

  • Class of 2007– look around and see those who have come before you – and those who are there to help you as you begin the next chapter of your life, whether it's at a four-year institution or the job of your dreams.
  • Please be seated.
  • Collectively, our alumni's influence on the capital region is enormous. I can say with the utmost confidence that no other college in the region – that no other college's graduates in the region – fuels the workforce and improves the quality of life the way we do.
  • Since 1953, our programs and curricula have evolved, but our commitment remains unchanged, to ensure that each and every student who seeks a Hudson Valley education leaves with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in work and in life.
  • Today's Hudson Valley Community College is both global, with our continued growth in on-line programs, and local. Hudson Valley provides the education and training for 77 of the capital region's 98 fastest growing jobs. For example, at this ceremony, we graduate our first class in semiconductor manufacturing technology to support the regions demand for clean room technicians.
  • We also are your resource for life-long learning – a place where you can always return to take a single class for personal or professional development or earn another associate's degree or certificate if you decide to change careers in 10, 20 or 30 years.
  • Hudson Valley will be here – for you, your children, your family and friends – for anyone who understands that life-long learning is key to a fulfilling life. We are your community college … and we are this community's college.
  • So after you walk across this stage … when you move your tassel from one side of your mortar board to the other … as you leave here to embark upon the next chapter of your life … keep open the door to your Hudson Valley experience.
  • Remember the bonds you have forged here, celebrate the goals you have achieved here, and give back to the place that has given you the skills and education to launch your future.
  • Join the Alumni Association … volunteer your time as an advisory committee member … talk with prospective and current students about your Hudson Valley experience …become a mentor … make a gift annually to the college to help us provide the academic resources to ensure that future students can achieve their dream …
  • Become a champion for the institution that has changed your life for the better. And start working on your commencement speech for 2040. Who knows, like Bob Chiusano, you may be addressing the capital region's next generation of leaders.

[Introduction of Bob Chiusano.]

  • Now, it is my great pleasure to tell you a bit more about our Commencement speaker, Robert M. Chiusano.
  • As I mentioned earlier, Bob recently retired, after working for nearly 30 years at Rockwell Collins, where he served in a variety of capacities prior to his appointment as executive vice president in 2006. He also had served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of the company's Commercial Systems, as well as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Government Systems.
  • Bob also has shared his expertise as a business consultant, serving with the Iowa delegation on the U.S. Midwest – Japan Association, the Rockwell representative on the Korean Defense Industry Association and on the U.S./Korea Business Council.
  • He also has been active in his community, serving on the Board of Directors of Junior Achievement, the University of Iowa Engineering Advisory Board and the Coe College Board of Trustees. In addition to his associate's degree from Hudson Valley, Bob holds a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from the University at Buffalo, and a master's of business administration degree from the University of Iowa.
  • Two and a half years ago, I met Bob during a teleconference. After the teleconference, we spoke for 40 minutes. I was enthralled by Bob's stories of his Hudson Valley years and how Hudson Valley gave him the foundation for his successful career. He is a tremendous representative of Hudson Valley and has a great message for our graduates.
  • Please join me in giving Bob Chiusano a warm, Hudson Valley welcome Bob?

[Bob Chiusano speaks. The following paragraph is to be delivered at the very end of the ceremony.]

  • On behalf of the entire college community, I extend my best wishes to today's graduates and their families.
  • As I said earlier, stay connected to this place. Volunteer your time, support the college's efforts to enhance its resources by giving a gift each year to the Annual Fund, share your positive experience with those you meet, but most importantly, make all of us here at Hudson Valley Community College – and your family, friends, loved ones – proud.
  • Congratulations, Class of 2007.