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Bard Prison Initiative Holds Commencement Ceremonies at Woodbourne and Fishkill Correctional Facilities

Mark Primoff
 Image Credit: Karen Pearson
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— The Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) celebrated its 17th commencement Saturday, June 9, at Woodbourne Correctional Facility in Woodbourne, New York, and Thursday, June 14, at Fishkill Correctional Facility in Fishkill, NY. Bard College awarded associate in arts and bachelor of arts degrees to more than 40 students, bringing the total number of Bard degrees awarded to BPI students to 485.

Mary Bassett, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, delivered the commencement address at the Woodbourne ceremony, and Doug Wood, Senior Fellow at the Aspen Institute, delivered the commencement address at the Fishkill ceremony. George Chochos, a BPI alumnus who subsequently graduated from the Yale Divinity School with master’s degrees in divinity and sacred theology, delivered the invocation and benediction for both ceremonies.

Since 2001, the Bard Prison Initiative has provided college opportunity inside the prisons of New York State. Begun as a pilot program with 15 students, BPI now enrolls 300 men and women inside three maximum-security prisons—Coxsackie, Eastern New York, and Green Haven—and three medium-security prisons—Fishkill, Taconic, and Woodbourne. In partnership with the government of the State of New York, Bard’s academic presence within the prison system has increased dramatically in breadth, depth, and scale: by the end of this year, the College will have awarded more than 500 degrees to students enrolled through the BPI. The Bard Prison Initiative challenges and expands our sense of community, and its success is a tribute to an extraordinary collaboration among the College, students, and government of the State of New York. For more information, visit:
Founded in 1860, Bard College is a four-year residential college of the liberal arts and sciences located 90 miles north of New York City. With the addition of the Montgomery Place estate, Bard’s campus consists of nearly 1,000 park-like acres in the Hudson River Valley. It offers bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, and bachelor of music degrees, with majors in more than 40 academic programs; graduate degrees in 11 programs; nine early colleges; and numerous dual-degree programs nationally and internationally. Building on its 158-year history as a competitive and innovative undergraduate institution, Bard College has expanded its mission as a private institution acting in the public interest across the country and around the world to meet broader student needs and increase access to liberal arts education. The undergraduate program at our main campus in upstate New York has a reputation for scholarly excellence, a focus on the arts, and civic engagement. Bard is committed to enriching culture, public life, and democratic discourse by training tomorrow’s thought leaders. For more information about Bard College, visit


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This event was last updated on 06-22-2018