Alfred State College holds 108th Commencement

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Alfred State College recognized approximately 850 May 2019 graduates during commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 12. Dr. Skip Sullivan, president, presided over the event, held on the Alfred campus. View photos of the event.

Pioneer Stadium filled with rain ponchos and umbrellasThe student speaker was Hannah Weaver, of Spencerport, a May 2019 graduate of the business administration baccalaureate degree program. Weaver has served as a civic engagement advocate, civic connections coordinator, and student vice president of community, and was named a Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Contact.

The day of the ceremony, Alfred State conferred an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to Goya Foods Great Lakes President and former College Council member Robert Drago. Drago joined his family’s business, the Bison Canning Company, in 1956, and assumed co-leadership of Bison in 1969 along with his brother, Franklin, and brother-in-law, James Seeley. Under their guidance, the company became a preferred supplier of private label canned food products among many premier supermarket chains around the US.

In 1991, Bison Canning was purchased by Goya Foods, Inc., the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the United States. As a result, Bison shifted from being a private label processor to an internal supplier of Goya brand canned dry bean products, which can be found in supermarkets throughout the US and offshore.

After Franklin Drago’s retirement in 1994, Robert became president of the company. Bison was officially renamed Goya Foods Great Lakes five years later, and the company continues to flourish under Drago’s leadership to this day.

Another major component of the ceremony was the presentation of the Paul B. Orvis Award for Excellence to five graduating students. The award honors Paul B. Orvis, a former president of Alfred State and State University of New York dean for two-year colleges. Recipients must meet the criteria of service, leadership, character, and scholarship.

Receiving the award were Ryan Shipherd, Randolph (School of Applied Technology associate degree recipient); Hannah Weaver, Spencerport (School of Architecture, Management and Engineering Technology baccalaureate degree recipient); Susan Perry, Olean (School of Architecture, Management and Engineering Technology associate degree recipient); Coral Smith, Kings Park (School of Arts and Sciences baccalaureate degree recipient); and Brooke Licata, Conesus (School of Arts and Sciences associate degree recipient).

Abigail Campbell, a construction management graduate from Geneseo, sang the national anthem.