SUNY New Paltz to celebrate commencement

SUNY New Paltz will hold its 2017 undergraduate commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21, on the Old Main Quadrangle on campus. The Saturday ceremony will recognize graduates of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, and the Sunday ceremony will recognize graduates of the Schools of Business, Education, Fine & Performing Arts and Science & Engineering. Both ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m.

The graduate commencement ceremony for all academic units will take place on Friday, May 19, 6 p.m., in the Athletic and Wellness Center.

This year, nearly 2,000 undergraduate and nearly 600 graduate degrees will be conferred, as New Paltz recognizes graduates of the August 2016, December 2016 and January 2017 terms, and candidates for the May 2017 and August 2017 terms.


SUNY New Paltz President Donald P. Christian will preside over each ceremony, and all members of the campus community are invited to join in the celebration.

This year, SUNY New Paltz decided to  split undergraduate commencement into two main ceremonies because the college’s graduation rates have increased. As a result, more students have become eligible and chose to participate in the undergraduate commencement. In 2016, nearly 2,000 students were eligible, roughly 1,400 participated, and there were approximately 9,000-10,000 people at the ceremony.

According to college officials, the additional participating graduates and their families and friends have added to the celebratory atmosphere of the event, but peak participation has also brought new logistical challenges. As the largest single gathering of the campus community and guests, the safety and security of the event continues to be among the college’s top priorities.

“At New Paltz, we value preserving this attention on the individual graduate. Splitting the ceremony allows us to continue this practice while also creating a more secure and manageable program, and overall experience for graduates, their families and friends,” said Christian.

New Paltz alumna and United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Jessica Faietawill speak on Saturday, and New Paltz Foundation board chair and banking executive Michael Keegan will speak on Sunday.

SUNY New Paltz named Kerry Clingain of Staten Island as valedictorian. Clingain is no longer living locally and is unable to attend the ceremony.

Salutatorian Jonathan Baez of Monroe will address his fellow Liberal Arts & Sciences graduates as student speaker at the Saturday ceremony.

The student speaker at the Sunday ceremony will be Jessica Weeks of Danbury, Connecticut. A SUNY Chancellor’s Award recipient, Weeks has distinguished herself in and out of the classroom at SUNY New Paltz

SUNY New Paltz’s Commencement ceremonies will be webcast online at