On Sunday, Dec. 12, Ithaca College celebrated its graduating students, both bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates, in a morning ceremony in the Glazer Arena in the Athletics and Events (A&E) Center. This December marked the first time a full Commencement ceremony was used to applaud the individual accomplishments of graduating students. This included, announcing the student as they crossed the stage, allowing IC to fully recognize the proud moment that college graduation represents and the incredible efforts and sacrifices that have been made to realize this outstanding accomplishment. In addition, graduates received their diploma cover, medallion and any earned Latin honor cords.
The procession into Glazer Arena was led by College Marshal and associate professor of writing Barbara Adams, the longest serving faculty member at the college, followed by faculty, deans, graduate chairs, senior leadership and senior class officers. Those in attendance stood as the December graduates processed.
Interim President La Jerne Terry Cornish started the ceremony by announcing that it was a true pleasure to be celebrating the completion of the students’ time at Ithaca College.
“To the graduates today, we honor your hard work and your intellect as you not only graduate from this institution but do so within the unusual and challenging circumstance of this ongoing global pandemic,” said Cornish. “We are living through a major moment for the entire global community, and never before has a commitment to the creation of a just world been more important.”
During her speech Cornish also recognized Doris Flexner ’51. The 91-year-old drama graduate was on hand to celebrate in person the graduation of her granddaughter Meghan Flexner, a Communications Management and Design major, who founded a 24-hour theatre club on campus.
“Although my grandma can tell many stories of how Ithaca’s buildings have changed over the years, she was delighted to see that the spirit of our college was just as vibrant and alive as always,” said Meghan Flexner.
Cornish finished her speech by letting graduates know that all those at Ithaca College will support them in their future endeavors.
“Now, as you graduate from this institution and walk out in a world that so desperately needs you, know that all of us here at Ithaca College support you and take pride in you as you lead, serve, and make a difference in the world,” said Cornish.
This year, the class officers invited both a staff and faculty member to address the class of graduates, in an acknowledgement of the vital role both play in students’ lives.
“You were a group that was involved—both in depth and in breadth—and you were excited to embrace exploration and discovery in college. Your entire authentic self came with you to Ithaca College, and I hope as you reflect on who you were then in comparison to who you are now, that some of those qualities that you brought with you will remain and you’ll carry them into the future.”Lisa Searle, associate director of admission.
Lisa Searle, associate director of admission, said she was honored to be chosen as the first staff speaker at the first formal Commencement for December graduates. She was grateful that students chose to acknowledge the contributions staff have made to their college experience. Searle shared the things she has learned about this group of students during their time at IC.
“You were a group that was involved—both in depth and in breadth—and you were excited to embrace exploration and discovery in college,” said Searle. “Your entire authentic self came with you to Ithaca College, and I hope as you reflect on who you were then in comparison to who you are now, that some of those qualities that you brought with you will remain and you’ll carry them into the future.”
Ellen Staurowsky, professor of sports media in the Roy H. Park School of Communications, welcomed the graduates as the faculty representative.
“In an uncertain and unprecedented time, you, our wonderful graduates, have met the challenge of the moment with style and flair,” said Staurowsky. “This graduation day is a testament to the hallmarks that so distinguish Ithaca students in my mind – your can-do spirit, persistence in the face of the unexpected, inventiveness, and endless good humor.”
Staurowsky talked about the impact the students will have on the world, bringing their talents to pursue big ideas and audacious solutions to persistent problems.
“As you move forward to the next chapter of your life, know that this foundation of love and support is portable; it travels with you, serving as a platform to amplify and impact; an anchor when times are tough,” she said. “This is what is meant by Ithaca Forever. We are here, we are here for you, and we believe in you.”
The graduates were just as thrilled to attend this inaugural Commencement.
“It’s both exciting and nerve-racking, but I’m also glad I could be here,” said Anna Bittinger. “I think it’s really special that we all get to do this today, especially in light of the pandemic, but overall, just grateful to be here today.”
“I’m looking forward to graduating and being around my loved ones who supported me through this journey,” said Kianna Robinson.
The students celebrated the conferral of their degrees by cheering amongst a shower of confetti.
“It feels good to finally be done and move on to the next chapter,” said Cade Ferreras.