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Press Release

Bard College Holds One Hundred Forty-Ninth Commencement on Saturday, May 23, 2009. New York Governor David A. Paterson to Deliver Commencement Address

Honorary Degrees Will Be Awarded to Paterson; Social Activist Geoffrey Canada; The Emerson String Quartet; Geneticist Susan Gottesman; Economist Jeffrey D. Sachs; Social Entrepreneur Stef Wertheimer; and Historian Garry Wills

Darren O'Sullivan

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— Bard College will hold its one hundred forty-ninth commencement on Saturday, May 23, 2009. At the commencement ceremony, Bard President Leon Botstein will confer 405 undergraduate degrees on the Class of 2009 and 128 graduate degrees, including master of fine arts; doctor and master of philosophy and master of arts in the history of the decorative arts, design, and culture; master of arts in teaching; master of arts in curatorial studies; master of science in environmental policy; and master of music in vocal arts. The program, which begins at 2:30 p.m. in the commencement tent on the Seth Goldfine Memorial Field, will include the presentation of honorary doctoral degrees.

The commencement address will be given by New York State Governor David A. Paterson, who will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. Honorary degrees will also be awarded to social activist Geoffrey Canada; The Emerson String Quartet; geneticist Susan Gottesman, economist Jeffrey D. Sachs; social entrepreneur Stef Wertheimer; and historian and author Garry Wills.

Other events taking place during commencement weekend include class reunions; a concert by Bard student soloists and composers with the American Symphony Orchestra, Leon Botstein, conductor; and the granting of Bard College awards for 2009. The Bard Medal will be presented to Robert C. Edmonds ’68; the John and Samuel Bard Award in Medicine and Science to Stephen A. Wertheimer ’59; the Charles Flint Kellogg Award in Arts and Letters to Miriam Roskin Berger ’56; the John Dewey Award for Distinguished Public Service to Mary D. Janney; the Bardian Award to Mark Lambert ’62; and the Mary McCarthy Award to Zadie Smith.



David A. Paterson became New York’s 55th governor on March 17, 2008. In his first address as governor, Paterson spoke about the challenges New York faces and his plan for New York’s future.

In his 23 years serving the people of New York, Governor Paterson has worked for change by reaching across party lines and bringing people together. His thoughtful, inclusive approach to governing has won him the respect of colleagues and a reputation for uniting disparate forces toward consensus that benefits all New Yorkers.

At the age of 31 in 1985, Governor Paterson was elected to represent Harlem in the New York State Senate, becoming the youngest senator in Albany. In 2003, he became minority leader of the New York State Senate, the first non-white legislative leader in New York's history. He made history again in 2004 when he became the first visually impaired person to address the Democratic National Convention. He became New York's first African American lieutenant governor in 2007 and is now New York’s first African American governor.

As lieutenant governor, he led the charge on several crucial issues for New York's future: achieving legislation for a $600 million stem cell research initiative in New York, the nation's second-largest allocation; putting forth a statewide renewable energy strategy that harnesses sun and wind; working to prevent domestic violence and empower its victims; and serving as the primary champion for minority- and women-owned businesses in New York.

Governor Paterson, who is legally blind, is nationally recognized as a leading advocate for the visually and physically impaired. He is a member of the American Foundation for the Blind. In addition, he is a member of the board of the Achilles Track Club, having completed the New York City Marathon in 1999. He serves as a member of the Democratic National Committee and board member of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

Governor Paterson was born May 20, 1954, in Brooklyn to Portia and Basil Paterson, the first non-white secretary of state in New York and the first African American vice-chair of the National Democratic Party. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Columbia University in 1977, and completed his J.D. at Hofstra Law School in 1982. He continues to give back to his alma mater by serving as an adjunct professor at Columbia’s School for International and Public Affairs. Governor Paterson lives with his wife, Michelle Paige Paterson, and their two children, Ashley and Alex. Ashley goes to college in upstate New York, and Alex attends public school in New York City.


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This event was last updated on 05-13-2009