Graduates celebrate during commencement

SUNY Morrisville students attend Commencement
Published date

MORRISVILLE, NY—SUNY Morrisville graduates celebrated commencement day with family and friends amid a stage adorned with ferns and flowers grown and arranged by students in the college’s horticulture program. Noteworthy about this year’s graduates is the first cohort of nursing bachelor’s degree students.

SUNY Morrisville President David Rogers was joined by Provost Barry Spriggs, school deans and members of the College Council in presiding over the ceremony, which began with the Syracuse Scottish Pipe Band leading graduates into the formal commencement exercises.

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, special guest speaker, urged graduates to make the world a better place during an era of profound social and economic change. 

“Your generation is better equipped than any other to adapt to changes in the world and to seize the opportunities they afford.” 

He encouraged graduates to not fear the unknown and to soak up every possibility it has to offer.

“Go for it grads! Take the risk. Follow your passion…Garner up the courage and the strength to cast doubts. It is my hope and prayer that you will find true success and joy in life.” 

During the ceremony, President’s Medal of Distinction Awards were presented to Judith Noyes, of Munnsville, and Raul Huerta, of Fayetteville. (See their bios below).

The President’s Medal of Distinction Award is conferred by SUNY Morrisville’s president to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the Morrisville campus communities. The award is presented to citizens of the region, state or nation for their significant service, leadership and professional achievements. It is the highest non-degree honor awarded by the college. 

In his thank you address, Huerta encouraged students to stay in touch with their alma mater. “Love her like your mother. Protect her and honor her,” he said.

Keyshawn Green-Scales, Student Government Organization president, praised SUNY Morrisville professors, families and friends for inspiring graduates.

“Thank you for taking the time out of your day to make us become successful, both in the classroom and in life.”

He also urged fellow graduates to continue to work hard in life.

“As we walk across the stage today, remember the hard you work you put into this and what you got from it, because in life, you get out what you put in.”

Awards noted during the ceremony: 

  • Brenda Oursler White, of Manlius, associate professor of mathematics, received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. 
  • Lamott Wellman, of Sherburne, senior electrician for the SUNY Morrisville Physical Plant, received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service. 
  • Alfred P. Muss II, of Fayetteville, professor of business & entrepreneurship, received SUNY Morrisville’s Distinguished Faculty Award.
  • Graduating students Zainab Jimoh, an applied psychology bachelor’s degree major from Staten Island, and Layne Martin, a nursing Bachelor of Technology major from Cazenovia, were recognized for receiving the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. 

Following the ceremony, graduates and their families attended a reception where they were served Mustang Pride, the winning ice cream contest flavor made by Gilligan’s Ice Cream in Sherburne. Two of the business owners, Andy Lagoe ’92 and Gil Hodges ’92, are SUNY Morrisville alumni. 

About President’s Medal of Distinction Award recipient Judith Noyes

Judith Noyes has served on the College Council at SUNY Morrisville since 2008.

During her career, she worked extensively in education and libraries. She was the university librarian at Colgate University from 1986-2005 and at the National Science Library in Ottawa, Ontario, for 14 years prior to that. She also was head of the University of New Brunswick Education Library in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

In addition to serving on the College Council, Noyes is a longtime supporter of SUNY Morrisville. She recently made a capital gift to furnish and name the Library Reading Room in Butcher Library in honor of her father, Charles Gibson. 

Active in her community, Noyes has been a board member of the NYS Historical Association Library in Cooperstown, Heritage Farm, the Madison County Historical Society Board and several national and international library committees. 

She also spent time in Thailand as a volunteer with the Brackett Education Refugee Foundation.

Noyes earned an MLIS from the University of Western Ontario and a B.A. from Carleton College, Minnesota.

About President’s Medal of Distinction Award recipient Raul Huerta
Raul Huerta served SUNY Morrisville for 16 years before retiring in 2014 as Senior Advisor for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). Prior to that position, he was the Director for International Student Services. 

Huerta, in partnership with the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Taskforce, United University Professions (UUP) and the SUNY Chancellor, was instrumental in establishing SUNY’s Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.  

Huerta revived SUNY’s participation in the SUNY/CUNY Model Senate beginning in 2005 and was appointed the first SUNY-wide coordinator from 2012 until his retirement. As an emeritus, he still volunteers in this annual effort. 

He established the Doña Cruz H. Peña Memorial Scholarship, in memory of his mother, which supports an annual award. 

Along with teaching an array of workshops and ESL classes, he has participated as a panelist on various diversity topics and presented at numerous national and statewide conferences, including Somos El Futuro, at both Albany and Puerto Rico venues, and at numerous Upstate Latino Conferences.

Huerta is a life member of the National Abolition Hall of Fame (NAHOF) in Peterboro.  

Active in the community, he is a member of the Syracuse Sunrise Rotary Club and served as vice chair of the Jefferson County (Washington) Sheriff’s Advisory Committee. 

Huerta earned a Doctor of Arts in humanistic studies from the University of Albany, a Master of Fine Arts in acting from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater from the University of Albuquerque.