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Over 700 Students Receive Degrees at Clarkson University's 120th Commencement Ceremony

More than 700 Clarkson University students from 28 states, 19 countries and 56 New York state counties were granted bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at Clarkson University’s 120th commencement today, Saturday, May 11. (An additional 207 students received degrees in the winter.)

Clarkson University 2013 Commencement (wide shot)The weekend was also marked by the commissioning of United States Army and United States Air Force officers on Friday.

Receiving honorary degrees and addressing students, families and guests were Wanda M. Austin, president and chief executive officer of the Aerospace Corporation, and Mark P. Sarkisian, director of seismic and structural engineering in the San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP.

Senior Jared D. Smith of Bay Shore, N.Y., was awarded the Levinus Clarkson Award, and senior Marty LaFleur of Potsdam, N.Y., received the Frederica Clarkson Award. Both are $1,000 prizes given to "a student who demonstrates the best combination of scholarship and promise of outstanding professional achievement."

Sitaraman Krishnan, an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering in Clarkson 's Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering., was awarded the John W. Graham Jr. Faculty Research Award. The $1,500 research accounts are presented to "faculty members who have shown promise in engineering, business, liberal arts or scientific research."

Laura E. Ettinger, an associate professor of history in Clarkson’s School of Arts & Sciences, was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award. The $1,500 prize is given "in recognition of the importance of superior teaching." Candidates are nominated for the award by Clarkson alumni and the final selection is made by a faculty committee.  

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer was also at the ceremony.

Saying she was, “honored to meet the inspired -- and inspiring -- graduates,” Wanda Austin applauded Clarkson’s administration, faculty and staff for their commitment to ensuring an outstanding education.”

She added, “Your focus on leading innovation and benefitting humanity provides the graduates with the balance of tools needed to become our future leaders.”

Acknowledging that Clarkson has the second highest percentage of students who serve in ROTC, Austin said, “Special congratulations and thanks for developing one of the best Army and Air Force ROTC programs in the nation.”

As a CEO, she said she’s traveled the world meeting -- and learning from-- lots of talented people. And speaking directly to the graduates, she assured them that they, too, would become “the leaders and problem solvers of the future.”

Austin said that, as the recipient of an honorary degree and a mom, she put together a list of the top ten lessons she’s learned. Drawing cheers and applause from the graduates, she said the list is short enough to Tweet:

10. Get a Job
9. Commit to your education – commit to continuous learning
8. Listen twice as much as you talk
7. Maintain a work/life balance; work is not the meaning of life
6. Vote!
5. Make peace, not war-- seek win-win solutions
4. Do what you love-- find your passion and your voice
3. Think globally
2. Give back more than you receive
1. Get a job! Have a plan to become self-sustaining

Calling Clarkson graduates to contribute to the arts and sciences, to mathematics, physics and research, Mark Sarkisian urged them to join forces and find sustainable solutions as if they were “…a collective of common elements, that is far more powerful and beautiful -- when working together than when each member works independently.”

As examples of this collaboration, he cited “…migratory birds flying in formation cycling leaders throughout their journey, people building and interacting in cities, and you and your professors striving toward the advancement of understanding together.”

He spoke of emergence-- of becoming something new-- saying, “This leads to efficiency in design and also creates a symbiotic relationship between structure, architecture and buildings systems.”

Sarkisian called this “emergence” -- becoming something new -- as “the path to achievement and accomplishments that will ultimately shape your contribution.”

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[Photographs for media use are available at and]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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