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College graduation stands out as one of life's great moments. Truly a memorable event, it's a rite of pasage, a beginning as well as completion.

At RIT, commencement is a festive occasion, always the highlight of the year. Since President Albert Simone's arrival in 1992, the celebration has expanded to become a university-wide event. Decked in colorful flags, bouquets of balloons, and outdoor stages for performing musicians, the campus looks its best. Even the garden plantings participate, generally reaching a flowery peak in time to greet the thousands of visiting friends and family members. An enormous white tent rises behind the Student Alumni Union, providing a site for the largest ceremonies.

The festivities continue over two days, with a convocation ceremony on Friday evening for the entire RIT community and separate commencement ceremonies for each of the colleges on Friday afternoon and Saturday. Convocation gives RIT the opportunity to recognize the excellence of students and faculty. President Simone officially confers degrees on all the graduates during this special gathering. The student delegates selected to represent the individual colleges enter carrying the college banners and sit onstage with trustees, alumni, administrators and faculty leaders, all in full academic regalia.

"What you have learned here is only the first step in what you will need to know in order to contribute in whatever may be your chosen life's work. . . . In today's world of rapid change, any one of us who fails to aggressively continue to acquire knowledge becomes professionally middle-aged by the time we are 30."Russell Bessette, executive director, NYSTAR
Mark Bridges shared the stage with daughter Tobie as both father and daughter received bachelor of fine arts degrees from RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences. Mark, a mechanical designer at Eastman Kodak Co., majored in industrial design and has been working on his degree part-time for the past five years. Tobie earned her degree in applied photography. The family lives in Spencerport, N.Y.
Russell Bessette, M.D., executive director of the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR), gave the 2001 keynote address.

"We feel this two-day celebration constitutes a culminating experience for graduates, families and friends," says Simone. "It's a capstone of their time at RIT and a fitting finale to years of hard work and sacrifice. By celebrating the excellence of our faculty and students, we spotlight the RIT tradition, university pride and community spirit."

The university's 116th annual commencement took place May 25-26, with near-perfect weather contributing to the upbeat atmosphere as 3,771 students  2,948 undergraduate and 823 graduate students  received degrees in more than 240 programs. These pages present a few of the highlights.

First software engineering grads

This year's commencement marked a milestone reached by the university and a unique group of graduates.

Twelve students became the first in the United States to earn bachelor's degrees in software engineering. One is Tom McAlee, who transferred into the program from computer engineering and couldn't be more pleased - he had four offers without ever applying for a job.

"I don't even have a resume  I never needed one," says McAlee. He and classmate Ben Smith have accepted positions (with "fat" salaries, McAlee says) with Exegetics Inc. in Blacksburg, Va.

RIT's five-year undergraduate program in software engineering was launched by the College of Applied Science and Technology and Kate Gleason College of Engineering in the fall of 1996 aiming to meet a growing demand for skilled workers in the field and to focus on large-scale, evolving software systems. This fall, the program moves to the new B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences.

Eisenhart Awards honor teachers

Commencement is a celebration of teaching as well as of student achievement. "Teaching is the heart of RIT," says Stanley McKenzie, provost and vice president for academic affairs. "Truly, there is no more important job in our society." Since 1965, RIT's Eisenhart Awards for Outstanding Teaching have commemorated faculty excellence. Up to four awards are given each year to recipients chosen through a rigorous peer review of student nominations. Winners are acknowledged at convocation.

Alfred Davis, RIT vice president emeritus and longtime benefactor, celebrated his grand-niece's graduation by donating a rowing shell to RIT crew. Heidi Jordan, who received a B.S. in biotechnology, christened her namesake during a pre-commencement lunch at the RIT boathouse.
Also recognized is the winner of the Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching, an award given annually to a young faculty member in recognition of outstanding contributions.

The Eisenhart family has a long history with RIT. The late M. Herbert Eisenhart, president and board chairman of Bausch & Lomb, was an RIT trustee for more than 50 years. His son, Richard Eisenhart, continues the RIT connection, serving on the board since 1972, as chairman for six years and now as trustee emeritus.

This year's winners are:

George Georgantas, professor of mathematics and statistics, College of Science.

Hany Ghoneim, professor of mechanical engineering, Kate Gleason College of Engineering.

Sidney McQuay, associate professor, National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

John Sanders, professor, College of Liberal Arts.

Larry Buckley, assistant professor, College of Science (Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching).

Delegates exemplify the best of RIT

Every year, student representatives are selected to speak at each college's commencement ceremony. These students demonstrate the ideals of RIT, including, but not limited to, academic achievement. The accomplishments of this year's student delegates are wide-ranging:

Bethany Iannone, computer science, College of Applied Science and Technology. Iannone's co-op experiences were at RIT as a software developer for the Data Cycle System for Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, and at Eastman Kodak Co. She works for Cisco Systems in Boston.

Brenda Moye, electrical engineering technology, College of Applied Science and Technology. Recipient of an RIT Electrical Engineering Technology Outstanding Alumna Scholarship and other honors, Moye was a peer mentor in the Minority Transition Support Program, academic excellence chairperson for the National Society of Black Engineers, an academic tutor in the New York State Higher Education Opportunity Program, and an RIT resident adviser. She works for Motorola in Phoenix, Ariz.

Adam Cerling, B.S./M.S. computer science, College of Applied Science and Technology. Cerling served as adjunct professor in computer science, and has worked as a programmer with Dawning Technologies Inc. and Display Technology Systems Inc. His special interests are computer and video role-playing games and animation, languages, and religious activities.

From left are Esperanza NuŅez, Science; Patricia Canne, NTID; Andrew Quagliata, Liberal Arts; Joanne Gosselin, Imaging Arts and Sciences; Matthew Mariani, Engineering; Jason Schwingle, Business; Antonija Cvjetovic, visiting from RIT's American College of Management and Technology in Croatia; and Bethany Iannone, Applied Science and Technology. Not pictured are Brenda Moye and Indrajit Mitra.

Jason Schwingle, marketing, College of Business. During a co-op with INVESCO in New York City, Schwingle marketed and maintained hedge-fund products for the institution's clientele. Active in campus organizations, Schwingle created the RIT/VOA Children's Center Project, a collaboration between the Volunteers of America and RIT.

Indrajit Mitra, M.B.A., College of Business. Mitra, a native of India, interned at Carrier Corp. in Syracuse. Among his responsibilities was the implementation of a competitive pricing database covering more than 35,000 parts manufactured and distributed by Carrier. Mitra was a member of the Graduate Management Association and the Dean's Student Advisory Council, and served as a note-taker for NTID.

Matthew Mariani, computer engineering, Kate Gleason College of Engineering. Mariani, winner of numerous scholarships and honors, had co-op and intern experience at Xerox Corp. and Mellon Financial Corp., and accepted a position with IBM Corp.

Joanne Gosselin, imaging and photographic technology, College of Imaging Arts and Sciences. Gosselin, who concentrated on computer animation, worked at Pixel Physics in Rochester on co-op and served on the executive board of RIT's Photo House. She is enrolled in the graduate digital media technologies program at Queensland University of Technology in Australia.

Andrew Quagliata, professional and technical communication, College of Liberal Arts. Quagliata was founding editor of Liberal Smarts, a newsletter written by students in the college, and financial columnist, sports reporter, and editor for RIT's award-winning Reporter magazine. He also served as captain of RIT's champion intramural football team in 1998 and 2000.

Patricia Canne, health care billing and coding technology, National Technical Institute for the Deaf. The mother of four children, Canne maintained a full course load and a perfect cumulative grade point average of 4.0. She plans to work in health care billing and coding and hopes to become a teacher in that field.

Esperanza N²Ņez, biotechnology, College of Science. A native of Venezuela, N²Ņez spent summers pursuing research experience at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, the Institute for Genomic Research-TIGR, and NASA's Langley Research Center. N²Ņez also completed an internship at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Research Undergraduate Laboratory Fellowships. She was a founder of RIT's Venezuelan Student Association and the vice president for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

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