Buffalo State College Holds 133rd Commencement Ceremonies

Posted: May 5, 2005
More than 2,300 students will receive their degrees on May 14, 2005, as Buffalo State College holds its 133rd commencement ceremonies in the Sports Arena on the campus at 1300 Elmwood Ave.

The college will mount two baccalaureate ceremonies – one at 10 a.m., the other at 2 p.m. – to award degrees to the 1,680 graduates who completed their studies in December 2004 or May 2005, or will complete them in August 2005. The college’s master’s hooding ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. to award degrees and certificates of advanced study to the 631 students who completed their studies in December 2004 or May 2005, or will complete them in August 2005.

MacArthur Fellow Alison Des Forges will give the keynote address at both baccalaureate ceremonies. Alumnus and former educator Harry Ausprich will give the graduate commencement address and receive a Distinguished Alumnus Award at that ceremony.

Educator Theodore G. Sturgis and artist Robert J. Kaupelis also will receive Distinguished Alumnus Awards – Sturgis at the 10 a.m. ceremony and Kaupelis at the 2 p.m. ceremony.

Two honorary degrees will be awarded. Thomas C. Perry, chairman of Perry’s Ice Cream Company, will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at the 10 a.m. ceremony; Deborah Oppenheimer, an alumna who won an Oscar for her 2000 documentary “Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport,” will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts at the 2 p.m. ceremony.

Baccalaureate keynote speaker Des Forges is the author of the award-winning book, “Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda.” She served as an expert witness in the Rwandan genocide trials at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and has provided evidence to judicial authorities in Belgium, Switzerland, Canada and the United States. As co-chair of the 1993 Commission of Investigation into Human Rights Abuse in Rwanda, she reported on government-organized massacres that presaged the 1994 genocide. Des Forges also chaired the 1994 International Commission that investigated massive slaughter in Burundi following the assassination of President Melchior Ndadaye. Des Forges, who trained as a historian at Harvard and Yale universities, holds a doctorate in African history.

Distinguished Alumnus awardee Sturgis graduated from Buffalo State College in 1953. He was an innovative classroom teacher who became a well-respected education administrator and community leader. He earned a doctorate in education from Syracuse University, where he also served as a faculty member. Sturgis served as a superintendent for Sweet Home Central Schools, Liverpool Central Schools, Ithaca City School District and Wappinger Central Schools. He served as vice president of the New York State Council of Parents and Teachers, and on the board of directors of several organizations in Duchess County, including the Boy Scouts of America and the Arts Council.

Kaupelis, who graduated from Buffalo State College in 1953 and will receive a Distinguished Alumnus Award at the 2 p.m. ceremony, earned his master’s degree and doctorate from Teachers College at Columbia University. He taught at New York University. An abstract expressionist, Kaupelis has presented more than 60 solo exhibitions and taken part in hundreds of group exhibitions. The author of two books popularly used by art students, “Experimental Drawing,” and “Learning to Draw,” Kaupelis himself was the subject of an entire chapter in Herbert Livesey’s “The Professors.”

Harry Ausprich, a 1954 Buffalo State College graduate who will receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award and give the keynote address at the graduate ceremony, earned a Ph.D. in speech communication and English from Michigan State University.

Ausprich returned to Buffalo State in 1973 to serve as the founding dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. As president of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, he organized the university’s institutional strategic planning process and developed and supported new academic degree programs, raising $20 million to support new academic initiatives. He served as a consultant for the Glassboro Center for the Arts at Rowan University, where he chaired the center’s Leadership Board. He received the Encore Award from the state of New Jersey for distinguished service in fundraising for the arts.

Thomas C. Perry has served the Western New York community as a businessman, civic leader and philanthropist. Chairman of Perry’s Ice Cream, an Akron, N.Y., company employing more than 300 people, he will receive a State University of New York Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. A former mayor of Akron, he has served as treasurer, vice chairman and chairman of the International Ice Cream Association, and has served on the boards of the Bank of Akron and Ford Gum & Machine Co. He was named the 2002 Akron Citizen of the Year and the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s 2003 Humanitarian of the Year. He holds a bachelor’s degree in food science from Michigan State University.

Film and television producer Deborah Oppenheimer, who will receive a State University of New York Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts at the 2 p.m. ceremony, won an Academy Award for her 2000 documentary “Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport.” A 1975 Buffalo State College graduate, she has worked as a development and production executive for Lorimar Productions, creating programming for HBO, Showtime and the PBS television networks. As vice president for Lorimar, she oversaw features, made-for-television movies, miniseries and episodic and half-hour television. Now president of Mohawk Productions, Oppenheimer serves as executive producer of the ABC comedy series “George Lopez,” and was the executive producer of “The Drew Carey Show.”

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