May 20, 2017
NEWBURGH, N.Y. -
Joe Borden of Newburgh, N.Y. shakes the hand of Dr. David
Kennett, Mount Saint Mary College president, upon receiving his
master’s degree in business administration on Saturday, May
Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, N.Y. recognized nearly 620
graduates and two honorary degree recipients at its 54th annual
Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 20.
Of the 619 total graduates, the college awarded 121 master’s
degrees and 498 bachelor’s degrees. More than 160 students earned
degrees in nursing and related fields, and another 140 earned
degrees in business.
As a bagpipe skirl filled the air, the long procession of
graduates headed to the ceremony, which was packed with their
families and friends. James Finn Cotter, the college’s longest
serving professor, was once again Master of Ceremonies. Saturday
marked Cotter’s 38th time at the helm.
The graduating students hailed from a dozen states: Arkansas,
California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Missouri, North
Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and
The ceremony was presided over by Charles Frank, chair of the
Board of Trustees of Mount Saint Mary College. The invocation was
given by Fr. Francis Amodio, O.Carm., college chaplain and director
of Campus Ministry.
Left to right: Alvin Mann ‘16, a 94-year-old World War II
veteran and honorary degree recipient; Charles Frank, chair of the
Board of Trustees of Mount Saint Mary College; Dr. David Kennett,
president of Mount Saint Mary College; and John McAvoy, chairman,
president, and CEO of Consolidated Edison Inc.
Dr. David Kennett, president of Mount Saint Mary College,
congratulated the faculty, the parents, and the seniors on a job
“The greatest thing about the Mount is its people, especially
the students,” Kennett said. “I’ve been impressed by the quality of
your research, the achievement of your athletics teams, your cheer,
and your deep concern for others that you exhibit by the extent of
your voluntary activity here in the community. You deserve thanks
for that, and I thank you sincerely.”
He added, “Although you cease to be students, Mount Saint Mary
College will always be your home. These beautiful grounds are still
yours. You will always be welcomed home.”
The graduating students then heard from commencement speaker and
honorary degree recipient John McAvoy, chairman, president, and
chief executive officer of Consolidated Edison Inc. McAvoy was
honored for his role as an outstanding business leader and his
long-standing commitment to communities across New York State.
McAvoy oversees Consolidated Edison’s two regulated utilities,
Con Edison Company of New York, and Orange and Rockland Utilities,
which energize the lives of the 10 million people in its service
territory. Under his leadership, Con Edison has invested more than
$2.6 billion in renewable energy projects through its Clean Energy
He serves on the board of directors of the American Gas
Association, the Edison Electric Institute, the Partnership for New
York City, the New York State Energy Research and Development
Authority, and The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. He also
serves on the board of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space
McAvoy holds an MBA from New York University and a bachelor’s
degree in mechanical engineering from Manhattan College. He is a
graduate of the David Rockefeller Fellows Program.
Prior to becoming chairman of Con Edison, McAvoy served as
president and chief executive officer of Orange and Rockland
Utilities, and senior vice president of Central Operations at Con
Edison of New York. He has held numerous positions in operations
and engineering during his 37 years with the company.
Honorary degree recipient and commencement speaker John
McAvoy, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of
Consolidated Edison Inc., told the new Mount Saint Mary College
graduates to be tenacious and “team players” throughout their
McAvoy gave the graduates three tips for success in their
careers. First, he encouraged the graduates to be “relentless” in
their self-improvement efforts. Students should employ
“persistence, tenacity, [and] an unwavering sense of commitment” in
the workplace and their personal lives, he noted. “Winston
Churchill’s quote captures it: ‘Never, never, never quit.’”
The second tip was to be “a team player,” he said. “Most issues
and challenges are complex, and it takes the power of a team to
solve them,” explained McAvoy. “Empathy may be the most needed
characteristic, along with self-awareness, self-control, and social
skills. These are all traits that need to be practiced and honed to
become a great team player.”
The last and most important element for success, he revealed, is
integrity. “Integrity is not just keeping your hand out of someone
else’s wallet, but a willingness to stand by an ideal, a principle,
and do what you think is right,” he said.
McAvoy added, “Expect nothing but the very best from yourself,
and you will always be proud of what you have done, which is
amongst the most important measures of success.”
Alvin Mann of Cuddebackville, N.Y., a 94-year-old World War II
veteran and retired businessman, also received an honorary doctor
of humane letters, in recognition of his dedicated service to his
country and his commitment to lifelong learning.
Mann earned his bachelor’s degree in history from the Mount in
May 2016. His hands-on experience of the subject gave him a unique
outlook on his coursework.
In the early 1940s, Mann joined the war effort as a merchant
seaman. By 1946 when he left the service, he had worked his way up
to second engineer.
After his time in the Armed Forces, Mann opened a short term
staffing service in Manhattan called Temporary Office Services of
New York. He supplied clients with secretaries, typists, clerks,
bookkeepers, and more. He continued running the multi-million
dollar business for some 25 years.
“I’m humbled and grateful for this distinction,” said Mann. “I
always planned to visit my alma mater, but this really makes me
hold my head high. My thanks to my advisors, my wonderful,
knowledgeable instructors – especially my IT tutors – the finance
office, and to all the students who believed I really was an aging
Mann has one son, two daughters, and five grandchildren. He will
be marrying his best friend, Gertrude Mokotoff, the former mayor of
Middletown, N.Y., on August 5 of this year.
“We’ll be married in front of our seven children,” said Mann.
“Ladies and gentian, I’m so honored to be marrying Gertrude…that’s
the story of my life, and I love it.”
History-political science major Nirmala Singh of
Middletown, N.Y. displays her diploma at the Mount’s 54th annual
Commencement on Saturday, May 20.
Bernadette Claravall of Wantagh, N.Y., senior class president,
thanked the professors and staff of Mount Saint Mary College for
their unwavering commitment to her and her fellow graduates. She
also thanked her family for being there over the course of her
“You will always need your family,” Claravall reminded her
fellow graduates. “If there is one thing that has remained constant
in our entire lives, it is the love and support from our family and
friends that embraces us every day.”
She added the same tenacity that got the graduates through
college will serve them well as they move on to the next chapters
of their lives.
“I wish you all the best of luck,” she said. “I know that your
hard work and your hearts will lead you to many great destinations.
Congratulations to the Class of 2017.”
The Faculty Award was presented to Maureen Markel, professor of
information technology. Markel, who has taught at the Mount for
more nearly four decades, will be retiring at the end of the
academic year. During her time at the Mount, she served as chair of
the division and helped to oversee the development of several new
“I’m truly so honored, so humbled, and so touched,” said Markel.
“Thank you, my beloved faculty and institution.”
Ranked a Top-Tier Regional University by U.S. News & World
Report, Mount Saint Mary College offers strong career preparation
in health professions, education, business, psychology, social
services, and liberal arts.
John Chiaia of Brooklyn, N.Y. (center) celebrates
graduating at Mount Saint Mary College’s 54th annual