May 11, 2011

SUNY Empire State College's Genesee Valley Center Celebrates the 40th Anniversary Artistically and Sustainably

40th Anniversary Logo

(ROCHESTER, N.Y. – May 11, 2011) – A festive gathering of more than 120 SUNY Empire State College alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends recently assembled at the Memorial Art Gallery to honor the college’s 40th anniversary.

“We are pleased at the Genesee Valley Center to be part of the college’s 40th anniversary,” said Genesee Valley Center Dean Jonathan Franz. “Part of what we are proud of at the Genesee Valley Center is our history of working with underserved populations. We are working with those populations to improve their chances in life.”

“I want to congratulate the Rochester center, the faculty and staff who have provided encouragement, and especially the students and alumni who are here today,” said college Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Services and former Genesee Valley Center Associate Dean Hugh B. Hammett. “What an extraordinary achievement: To have artwork hanging in a venue of this quality and with the sterling reputation the Memorial Art Gallery enjoys.”

The gallery featured the International Fiber Arts Exhibit where the work of college alumna Jeanne Raffer Beck’86 was displayed.

Left to right: Elaine Franz, Hugh Hammett and Jane Cudmore at the Genesee Valley Center 40th Anniversary Celebration.

Left to right: Elaine Franz, Hugh Hammett and Jane Cusmore at the Genesee Valley Center 40th Anniversary Celebration. Hammett is a former associate dean of the Genesee Valley Center.

The alumni, student, faculty and staff art show featured works in various medium such as oil on canvas, photography, sculpture and mixed media. Many works were created specifically for the show.

Alumni representing every decade since the founding of the college were on hand for the event, including Joyce W. Lehmann ’ 78, who submitted “Blue Butterfly” and “The Little Children.”

Jazz trio Bernie Heveron ’97 on guitar, George Collichio ’95, guitar and drummer Bobby Blandino entertained the audience to warm applause.

In addition to the visual and performing arts, sustainability was another creative party theme: The event program was made from reclaimed student file folders and the table tent cards were produced from recycled information session flyers.

Genesee Valley’s event garnered numerous endorsements from community groups and elected officials.

A proclamation honoring the college’s 40th anniversary was issued by Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks and letters of congratulations were sent by:

  • Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand,
  • Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo,
  • Rep. Louise M. Slaughter,
  • State Sen. Joseph E. Robach,
  • Member of Assembly Joseph D. Morelle,
  • County Executive Maggie Brooks,
  • Rochester Mayor Thomas S. Richards,
  • International Sister Cities of Rochester President Carolee Conklin,
  • United Nations Association of Rochester President Richard Sarkis ’78 and Vice President for Programs Margaret Corbin ’72,
  • Rochester Public Library Director Patricia Uttaro,
  • Veterans Center Outreach Vice President for Workforce Development Peter W. Blind, and
  • Garth Fagan Dance Artistic Director, president and founder Garth Fagan.

Copies of the letters of support are available on the college’s 40th anniversary website.

Photo galleries of 40th anniversary events are available here .

About SUNY Empire State College

Celebrating its 40th anniversary throughout 2011, SUNY Empire State College was established in 1971 to offer adult learners the opportunity to earn associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York. Students learn through independent studies, online courses, seminars and residencies. Learners also may earn credit for prior college-level learning from work and life experience.

The college serves more than 20,000 students worldwide at 35 locations in New York state and online. Its 60,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, not-for-profit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.

For additional information, visit For more on the 40th anniversary, please follow this link.


Media Contact

David M. Henahan, Director of Communications
518-587-2100, ext. 2918

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