May 20, 2020

SUNY Empire State College Adopts Latin Honors for First Time in the College’s 49-Year History

SUNY Empire to Celebrate 2020 Graduates with a Virtual Commencement in June

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – May 20, 2020) SUNY Empire State College today announced it has established the Latin Honors system for the first time in the institution’s 49-year history in response to overwhelming student support for the change. This honor will begin being conferred to SUNY Empire students graduating with a bachelor’s degree this summer, as well as retroactively to students who graduated in August 2019 and December 2019. Awardees of the class of 2020 will be acknowledged in a virtual ceremony next month.

SUNY Empire State College introduced Latin Honors to recognize the academic success of students earning a bachelor’s degree. The cumulative GPA needed to achieve Latin Honors at the college is based on the 70th/80th/90th percentiles of baccalaureate graduate GPAs over a five-year period. The Latin Honor designation is in three categories – Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Cum Laude – each with its own minimum GPA requirement.

“Upon arriving at SUNY Empire in July of 2019 I heard and time again from SUNY Empire students that they wanted us to adopt Latin Honors,” said SUNY Empire State College President Jim Malatras. “I couldn’t have agreed more and I’m proud that they entire SUNY Empire community came together to get it done. It’s a recognition afforded students at other colleges and universities, and SUNY Empire graduates deserve to have their outstanding academic achievements acknowledged.”

“Latin Honors is the missing edge that students need on their resumes to be more competitive with comparable students and their schools when searching for jobs,” said Nakesha Vines, nursing student and co-chair of SUNY Empire State College’s Student Affairs Committee. “It is great that high-performing SUNY Empire students will finally have the opportunity to be recognized for their academic achievements.” 

Since joining SUNY Empire in July 2019, President Malatras also implemented guidelines for recognizing student achievement with the Dean’s List, another first at SUNY Empire. The spring list will be posted soon.

SUNY Empire convened a committee to develop and enact these important policy changes. Its members included Provost Meg Benke, Chair of the College Senate Anastasia Pratt, co-chairs of the Undergraduate Committee for Academic Policy Paul Miller and Leslie Ellis, head of the Student Affairs Committee Daniel McCrea, and student co-chair of SUNY Empire State College’s Student Affairs Committee, Nakesha Vines.

SUNY Empire State College canceled all commencement celebrations due to COVID-19-related public-health precautions, but is planning to hold a virtual celebration for graduates in June. SUNY Empire is slated to confer 782 associate, 3,402 bachelor’s, and 349 master’s degrees, five undergraduate certificates, and 51 graduate certificates. SUNY Empire draws students from all 62 counties in New York, states across the country, U.S. territories, and nations from around the world.

About SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College educates students at any stage of life with a personalized learning experience delivered online, in person, or a blend of both. Since 1971, SUNY Empire has empowered students to earn an accredited degree around the demands of a busy lifestyle to advance their personal and professional goals. With world-class faculty, more than 1,300 dedicated mentors to help students tailor their degree programs, and cutting-edge distance learning technology, SUNY Empire delivers a trusted and flexible online college experience grounded in more than 30 New York State locations and seven international sites where students can learn and collaborate in person. Our nearly 50 years as a leader in awarding credit for prior learning and life experience helps students earn a degree faster and at lower cost. To learn more, visit and follow @SUNYEmpire.