CSI President Dr. Tomás Morales told 2,263 students at the College of Staten Island that “the degree you receive may say ‘College of Staten Island, The City University of New York’, but it has the power to take you anywhere you want to go. It is a passport for the rest of your life.”
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The student speaker, Besim Mehmedovic, who graduated with a Baccalaureate degree in Science, Letters, and Society with high honors, also earned his New York State Teaching License in Elementary Education.
Beyond his academic achievements, he is a veteran of the United States Air Force and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and has earned the Air Force Achievement Medal for outstanding achievement and/or meritorious service.
In his heartfelt speech, Mehmedovic called “the current economic climate…the prime issue that faces our graduating class,” but he called on his fellow graduates to view the challenges that the depressed financial situation brings as opportunities—“the opportunity to see what we are made of…the opportunity to rediscover what is most important in life… and the opportunity [to think] of our lives in comparison to others around the world” who have far less than we do.
While acknowledging the success of the students’ accomplishments, President Morales acknowledged the CSI faculty for their “extraordinary scholarship and research,” and how their high academic caliber has attracted more funding and recognition from state and federal agencies.
Describing CSI as an institution on the move, with graduates “going on to the most prestigious graduate and professional schools,” Morales highlighted the college’s record enrollment of 13,000 and improved infrastructure, with such innovations as the new High-Performance computational and Visualization Center and the shuttlebus that runs between the Staten Island Ferry and the CSI campus.
In addition to the presentation of the degrees to CSI students, Dr. Morales and Dr. William Fritz, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, bestowed the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters on author, humanitarian, and Vietnam expert Lady Borton.
Later that day, the CSI Library hosted the annual Dolphin Awards ceremony that honored outstanding contributions to the College. This year’s honorees included:
-Outstanding Scholarly Achievement by a Member of the Full-Time Faculty: Mark White, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Economics, and Philosophy.
-Outstanding Teaching by a Member of the Full-Time Faculty: Susan Imberman, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science.
-Outstanding Teaching by a Member of the Adjunct Faculty: James Falkin, Adjunct Faculty, Department of Political Science, Economics, and Philosophy.
-Outstanding Service and Contribution to the College by a Member of the Full-Time Faculty: Richard Flanagan, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Economics, and Philosophy, and Francisco Soto, Dean of Humanities and Social Science, and Professor of Spanish, Department of Modern Languages.
-Outstanding Service and Contribution to the College by a Member of the Non-Teaching Instructional Staff in the HEO Title: Gloria Cortopassi, Director, Payroll Office, and Tom Lauria, Director, Office of Automation/Networking/Users Support.
-Outstanding Service and Contribution to the College by a Member of the Non-Instructional Staff in CLT and OIT Specialists Title: Sepehrdad Vakil, Office of Information Technology.
-Outstanding Service and Contribution to the College by a Member of the Non-Instructional Staff: Debbie Mahoney, CUNY, Office Assistant, Office of the Provost.
-Outstanding Service and Contribution to the College by a Member of the Non-Instructional Staff in Maintenance, Operations, and Security: George Mallon, Assistant Director, Office of Public Safety.
-Outstanding Service and Contribution to the College by a Currently Enrolled Student: Peter DeCrescenzo.
After emcee Robert Huber, Interim Vice President for Institutional Advancement, recognized the honorees, he presented Professor Emeritus Stamos Zades with a token of appreciation for his 50 years of contribution to the College.
President Morales concluded the ceremony by acknowledging the presence of Rose Volpe, wife of the late President Emeritus Edmond Volpe, and Lady Borton. The President then underscored the vast commitment of Dean Francisco Soto to the students of CSI. He also thanked all members of the College community, past and present, who have worked tirelessly to make CSI a world-class institution of higher learning.