SUNY Empire State College is holding nine graduations across New York state this year.
We start on June 4th in Buffalo and end on June 18th on Long Island.
Then we have five graduations internationally: starting on June 24th in Prague, through to September in Beirut, Lebanon.
I say this to illustrate that each one of you is a member of a global community of over 3,000 graduates in this class of 2011.
This is a very special graduation for the college, as it celebrates its 40th anniversary. Who’d have thought this crazy, audacious innovative experiment would blossom into a college that serves over 20,000 learners each year, in every town and county of the state, in every state of the nation and in dozens of countries around the world?
For 40 years, SUNY Empire State College has been an institution of open learning: the only public, open university in the state, and it is likely inappropriate for me to say that this probably one of the best of its kind in the world, so I won’t say that.
Open is a simple word, but it has multiple meanings and implications, especially when applied to education.
Open learning is innovative, progressive, liberated, and public.
It is available, flexible, and inclusive.
Open learners like yourselves, are open-minded, creative, tolerant, receptive and honest.
Open educators like my amazing colleagues here are communicative, reachable, generous, and unprejudiced.
I want to close by talking about SUNY, because you are not just Empire State College graduates, you are SUNY graduates.
The SUNY motto is to learn, to search, to serve, which we adapted in our unique approach: You came to us to search and we joined you in that endeavor of discovery, through which you were able to learn, and, though many of you already knew what it meant to serve your communities and your family, we hope you feel better enabled and more empowered to expand that engagement as a thoughtful global citizen.
In so doing, you join a family of over 60,000 Empire State College alumni around the world, and you also join the power of SUNY as one of nearly 2.5 million graduates.
These graduates are increasingly staying in touch with each other and with SUNY and the rest of the world through technology, and our alumni website is your gateway to remaining connected with each other and with us. So, please, do just that. Stay in touch. There’s no excuse.