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Morrisville State College Holds 95th Commencement Ceremony

MORRISVILLE, N.Y.—When Shannon Puddington crossed the stage and received her diploma on commencement day, she continued a family tradition.

The 21-year-old Munnsville resident became the third generation of Puddingtons to receive a degree from Morrisville State College.

Shannon received an associate degree in individual studies during commencement exercises which were held at the Morrisville State College campus Saturday. She followed in the footsteps of her mother, Linda, who received two Morrisville degrees; one in 1986 and the other in 2001. Her grandfather, Dave Puddington, received an honorary degree in 1986.

It was a proud moment for the 15-plus members of the Puddington family who gathered to watch the ceremony—it meant even more to Shannon.

Commencement was a chance to honor the memory of her mother who passed away in October 2003, and a chance to share a dream one of the most important men in her life—her grandfather. Dave, Town of Eaton supervisor, joined Shannon on stage during the conferring of degrees to present her with her diploma.

Parents, relatives and friends braved wind and rain to cheer on the graduates of the Class of 2006 during the college’s 95th commencement which was held on Drake Field.

Morrisville State College President, Dr. Ray Cross, was joined by Interim Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs, James Van Riper, school deans and members of the college council in presiding over the ceremony, which began with a 20-piece Scottish Bagpipe Band and herald trumpeters leading graduates into the formal commencement exercises.

Cross bid the graduates good luck in their future endeavors, and encouraged them as they entered a new phase of their lives.

“Some of you may look upon commencement as an end,” he said. “I encourage you to see it as the beginning of the next phase of your lives. It is time to set new goals and begin new challenges.”

Keynote speaker Libby Pataki, First Lady of New York state, recalled her own graduation and spoke frankly about things she wished she had known after she graduated.

“I wish I would have known a risk when you are 21 is no risk at all; that if you succeed all of the time your goals are not big enough; and that life isn’t just about reaching goals, it’s about enjoying the ride,” she said.

Pataki emphasized Morrisville State College’s importance as a leader in blending agriculture and technology and noted that today’s graduates will be tomorrow’s leaders who are poised to take on the future and help break the country’s independence on foreign oil.

“You will be our pioneers to find new ways to fuel our country…and you will be the generation that makes a difference,” she said.

In her closing remarks, she advised graduates to follow their passion.

“I have learned that the secret to a happy life is finding something you have a passion for,” she said. “When you find your passion, pursue it with your whole heart and your whole mind.”

Pataki has actively worked to raise awareness and serve as an advocate for a host of issues, including the promotion of women’s and children’s health issues throughout the more than 11 years her husband, Gov. George E. Pataki, has served as governor.

During the ceremony, several members of the college community were recognized: Dr. Diane Tice, of Manlius, associate professor of biology, was awarded the Distinguished Faculty Award; Joan Johnson, of West Eaton, professor of resort and recreation service management, and Gladys Cleland, of Liverpool, associate professor of journalism, were recognized for winning the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching; Don Smith, network engineer in the Technology Services Department, was recognized for winning the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service; and graduating students Michael Godfrey, of Morrisville, Frank Vair, of Chittenango, and Holly Balla, of Norwich, were recognized for winning the Chancellor's Award for Excellence, a prestigious SUNY-wide award.

Morrisville State College offers 12 bachelor degrees and a wide variety of associate degrees and options. Considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, the college recently became the first in the nation to comprehensively replace landlines in residence halls with individual cellular phones.