College to honor Congressman and alumnus at December Commencement

NEW PALTZ — State University of New York at New Paltz alumnus, Congressman Maurice Hinchey (’68, ’70g) will be the guest of honor and commencement speaker at the December Commencement exercises held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie on Saturday, Dec. 17.

College President Steven Poskanzer will award Congressman Hinchey the Presidential Medal, the highest honor the campus can bestow upon an individual, in recognition of his ongoing support of the college. Recently, Hinchey secured $750,000 in the Energy and Water Bill for the modernization and development of environmental science laboratories at New Paltz and Ulster County Community College.

“I am delighted that Congressman Hinchey’s vision and leadership have resulted in significant new resources to his alma mater,” said Poskanzer. “We are fortunate that he can be with us this Saturday so we may appropriately thank him for his ongoing advocacy on behalf of the college.”

Other distinguished guests include U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and New York State Sen. William Larkin Jr. Both will offer a brief greeting to the graduation candidates.

There are 1,069 graduate and undergraduate candidates this December, and 475 have chosen to participate in the ceremony – an 18 percent increase from last December’s ceremony.

The valedictorian for the December ceremony will be Danielle Marie Parente of Schenectady. She is receiving a Bachelor of Science in Art Education. The salutatorian, Sarah C. Altwerger of Castleton, is receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting.

In addition, Nancy Nielson will be the new grand marshal for commencement exercises. Nielson has been employed at the college for 47 years, first as a lab schoolteacher at the Campus School, then, in 1982 she was hired in the Sojourner Truth Library and has since been promoted to the rank of librarian. She succeeds Gerald Kitzmann, associate professor of physics.

Each of the 475 candidates celebrating their achievements on Saturday has a story to tell, however, none may be quite as unique as the Ravilisetty family from Highland.

The Ravilisetties mean business

Rama Ravilisetty and her son Pavan are both graduating this December with marketing degrees from the School of Business, and Rama’s husband, Padmanabha, enrolled in the MBA program last semester.

“I really enjoyed studying with my son and now I know him much better than before,” said Rama. “I also like all my professors in the business department – this has been a great experience for me.”

Rama is interested in finding a job in marketing research and Pavan said that he is looking for a job in sales or advertising in New York City.

For more information about the 2005 SUNY New Paltz December Commencement ceremony, visit To view the interior of the Civic Center, for directions, and to become more familiar with the surrounding area, access the Web site at The SUNY New Paltz University Police office may also be called (845-257-2222) for weather conditions in our area or, if necessary, commencement cancellation information.

Note to media: A photograph of Rama and Pavan Ravilisetty is available on the SUNY New Paltz Web site at The commencement ceremony begins at 11 a.m. Media planning to cover the ceremony should arrive by 10:30 a.m. and proceed to the media registration table in the center of the lobby. Registered media will be issued a press pass that will provide access to the candidate and stage areas.