Publisher is keynote speaker at Mount Saint Mary College commencement

May 19, 2012

Newburgh, NY -
From left: Abel Garrison, Elizabeth Ailes, His Eminence Peter Cardinal Turkson, Joseph Reilly, and Fr. Kevin E. Mackin, OFM, at the 49th commencement exercises at Mount Saint Mary College, May 19.

Elizabeth Ailes, publisher of The Putnam County News & Recorder and The Putnam County Courier, gave the keynote address to 654 members of the Class of 2012 and thousands of family and friends at the 49th annual Mount Saint Mary College commencement in Newburgh, NY.

In her remarks, Ailes referred to Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem about the characteristics of maturity, If, and added that “Whatever you want, if you want it badly enough, you’ve got a good chance of getting it.”

Obtaining goals in life depends on several things, noted Ailes, such as having “passion and being willing to follow your heart while using your head.”

Ailes told the graduates she discovered her passion at age 12, was “addicted to news,” and long before Google she was a “pint-sized, do-it-yourself search engine.”

Ailes would write and illustrate small newspapers for her family and neighborhood friends.

After graduating from Southern Connecticut State University with a degree in journalism, she “happily worked the overnight shift as a production assistant (at a television station) and within a few months, was promoted to the overnight assignment desk,” she said.

She encouraged the graduates to be “willing to outwork others. If you are tireless and demand excellence of yourself and your colleagues, you will succeed.”

Be ready to improvise, she said, and expect and embrace changes. Learn how to be flexible, encourage and help others, and get up each morning and “say a prayer that today is another opportunity; today there is some worthwhile occasion that you will rise to,” said Ailes.

Ailes is a 20-year veteran of NBC News, CNBC, and America's Talking, the forerunner of MSNBC. She began her career at NBC News Radio and NBC News. She was the first producer hired at CNBC and part of a three-person team responsible for launching the network in April 1989. Ailes later became Director of Business Programming at CNBC, before becoming Vice President of Programming at America’s Talking, the predecessor to MSNBC.

She is the wife of Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO of the Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, and the owner of the Hudson Valley Freedom Press, which publishes both newspapers.

In addition to Ailes, other honorary degree recipients included: His Eminence Peter Cardinal Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Joseph A. Reilly, CEO of the Empire Broadcasting Corporation.

Cardinal Turkson, appointed president of the Pontifical Council by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, shared with the graduates about his objectives and mandate to “promote justice and peace in the world, in the light of the Gospel and of the social teaching of the Church” and “foster relations with international Catholic organizations and with other bodies, be they Catholic or not, that are sincerely committed to the promotion of the values of justice and peace in the world.”

Speaking about the education the graduates received at Mount Saint Mary College, Cardinal Turkson said it was a “rich blend of scholarship and spirituality.”

Among his many activities, Cardinal Turkson serves on the board of directors of Medicus Christi: founded to bring professional and compassionate medical care into poor countries where crucial medical and surgical expertise is lacking.

Born in Nsuta Wassaw, Ghana, he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Cape Coast in 1975, did doctoral studies in Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome, and taught at St Theresa’s Minor Seminary and St. Peter’s Major Seminary. In 1992 he was appointed Archbishop of Cape Coast, and he was created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2003, of the Title of San Liborio (St. Liborius).

Reilly, a native New Yorker, retired as president and CEO of the New York State Broadcasters Association in 2011.

He urged graduates to “follow your heart, follow your passion, take risks, take time to pick a mate, don’t forget your parents and remember to keep God in your life.”

He was the first full-time executive director of the association in 1980, and became president in 1986. Reilly represented the interests of more than 750 radio and television stations, including the major New York City based networks, and advocated for the broadcasting profession before state and federal legislative bodies and represented the Association throughout the nation. Over the past decade, membership in the Association tripled. Before joining the Association, he founded, co-owned and operated a dozen broadcast properties in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York.

Among Reilly’s many achievements was his leadership to open New York State courts to cameras and microphones; in 1987, Governor Mario Cuomo signed into law a landmark bill permitting electronic media entry in courtrooms throughout the state. The Association also led in the transition from analog to digital television.

He is a graduate of Christian Brothers Academy in Albany and Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ and resides in Voorheesville, NY.

Fr. Kevin Mackin OFM, Mount Saint Mary College president, recognized 654 bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates during the commencement ceremony held outdoors May 19 on the campus overlooking the Hudson River.

Among the graduates were the children of four faculty members, each of whom presented a diploma to her son or daughter.

Professor of nursing Dianne Murphy presented a diploma to her son, Sean Murphy of Port Jervis, NY, a nursing major; nursing professor Jill Sussman, daughter Melanie Sussman of Garrison, NY, human services; chemistry professor Lynn Maelia, son Thomas Maelia of Newburgh, NY, information technology; and business instructor Shelley Love, son Zachary Ciraolo of New Windsor, NY, business management and administration.