Friends, families, and fellow students celebrated as Alfred State graduates participated in commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 19, 2013. Valerie B. Nixon, college interim president, presided over the event at the Pioneer Stadium on the Alfred State campus. This ceremony – the college’s 102nd Commencement – was dedicated to veterans and those currently serving in the United States Armed Forces and featured a special tribute through a flyover of “W7,” a C-47 that was one of the lead aircraft in the first strike at D-Day in Normandy, France, during WWII.
Welcoming the audience on behalf of the students was Courtney M. Cardinal of Depew, NY, chair of the Alfred State Student Senate. This year’s student speaker was Teandra K. Henry of Queens Village, NY.
Keynote speaker for the ceremony was Colonel Timothy J. LaBarge, commander of the 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, NY. He is responsible for the combat readiness of assigned units by reviewing training programs and ensuring availability of necessary equipment, supplies, and facilities.
LaBarge previously served as the commander of the 109th Airlift Wing, the only ski-equipped C-130 aircraft in the Air Force inventory and sole provider of heavy airlift in support of military and National Science Foundation directed operations in the Arctic and Antarctic Polar regions. He also served in the Directorate of Total Force Integration, Air Force Strategic Planning, at the U.S. Air Force Headquarters in Washington, D.C. As a subject matter expert in the Mission Development Division, he worked with the Air Staff, MAJCOMs, the National Guard Bureau, Air Directorate, Joint Directorate, and the Air Force Reserve to develop initiatives that maximize the Air Force's overall combat capabilities and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of all Air Force components. As the Director of Staff - Air Component at the New York Air National Guard headquarters, LaBarge was the principal adviser to the Adjutant General and/or Assistant Adjutant on a broad range of matters concerning the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard.
He received his Air Force commission through the Officer Training School program in 1983, and has served as a T-37 instructor pilot, wing flight examiner/spin pilot at Reese Air Force Base in Texas and as a C-5 Aircraft Commander at Dover AFB in DE. Joining the NY Air National Guard’s 105th Airlift Wing in 1991, Col LaBarge has held positions as C-5 instructor pilot and flight instructor/examiner pilot; squadron operations officer; chief, Standardization and Evaluation; and as chief, Wing Command Post. He has flown combat and combat support missions in Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as five Antarctic Operation Deep Freeze seasons flying polar airlift missions in support of the National Science Foundation and the international science community. Col LaBarge has logged in more than 5,500 flight hours in 7 different USAF aircraft and has a rating of Command Pilot.
The presentation of the Paul B. Orvis Award for Excellence, awarded to outstanding two-year graduates from each of the college’s schools of study as well as to a baccalaureate graduate, was a highlight of the ceremony. 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.
Honored at the ceremony were Jacob A. Bayus, Alfred Station, NY (School of Architecture, Management and Engineering Technology baccalaureate recipient); Lucas C. Bayus, Alfred Station, NY (School of Architecture, Management and Engineering Technology associate recipient); Sade΄ Bond, Washington, DC (School of Arts and Sciences recipient); and Ryan Dontoh of Dryden, NY (School of Applied Technology recipient).
The flag displayed on stage was flown on September 11, 2011 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, during Operation New Dawn to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001. Beginning at the same time as the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 ten years before, it was flown for 49 minutes, 37 seconds – one second for each victim of the attacks. The flag was flown at the request of Captain Thomas Raterman and presented as a gift to Alfred State with a certificate of authenticity from the 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command that states, “this flag symbolizes the patriotism, valor, and sacrifices made by all who have served in the United States Armed Forces during the Global War on Terrorism, as well as for victims who gave their lives on that fateful day.” Captain Raterman is the husband of Liz Raterman, Alfred State’s Director for Multicultural Affairs.
The Alfred State Men’s Quartet performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Alfred State alma mater during the ceremony, and other musical interludes featured the Southern Tier Brass with a salute to the Armed Forces. Students and faculty were led out in recessional to the music of the Gates Keystone Police Pipes and Drums.
watch the entire ceremony on video.