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Howard Zucker

Upstate to hold virtual Commencement May 1

Upstate Medical University will confer degrees on 419 students during a virtual Commencement ceremony May 1, beginning at 10 a.m.

Sixty-five medical students graduated early, on April 10, so they could participate, if needed, in the state’s COVID response in the New York City area.

Upstate’s Commencement was originally set for May 3 at the SRC Arena on the Onondaga Community College campus, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, all large gatherings have been canceled, necessitating the virtual ceremony.

In his Commencement letter to students, Interim President Mantosh Dewan, MD, told students that they began their journey at Upstate to make the world a better place.

“And I know you will. Now, as you enter your professions in the midst of a pandemic, your brilliance, creativity and commitment to serve are needed more than ever. I am confident that you will rise to this challenge today and through the course of your career,” Dewan wrote.

The virtual ceremony will feature messages from several speakers, including pre-recorded remarks from New York Health Commissioner Harold Zucker, MD, JD, who is at the center of the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response. Since his arrival at the helm of the state Department of Health, Zucker has established a network of hospitals equipped to treat Ebola, implemented programs to address the threat of Zika, spearheaded efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance and the recent measles outbreak.

This is Zucker’s second time addressing Upstate graduates; he spoke at last year’s Commencement.

A special presentation will also be made by Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon.

Also addressing graduates will Dean of Student Affairs Julie White, PhD; College of Nursing Dean Tammy Austin-Ketch, PhD; College of Health Professions Dean Katherine Beissner, PT, PhD; College of Medicine Dean Lawrence Chin, MD; and College of Graduate Studies Dean Mark Schmitt, PhD.

Student speakers include Heather Bedard, College of Nursing; Amber Walker, College of Health Professions; Yaa Takyiwaa and Jared Sweeney, MD, College of Medicine; and Adam Blanden, College of Graduate Studies.

 This year’s honorary degree recipients are Dr. Kirk Adams, president and CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). The ABF is a national non-profit serving more than 20 million Americans with visual impairments, and Sir Frederick Ballantyne, an Upstate alumnus who has been visionary leader, physician, statesman and humanitarian on the island of St. Vincent for five decades. His various roles have resulted in a remarkable number of health care improvements. public health, medical education, improved access to care, and the philanthropic support for children on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Commencement by the numbers

The College of Graduate Studies will award 14 degrees (two master of science and 10 doctoral degrees and two combined MD/PHD degrees.

The College of Health Professions will award 173 degrees (75 bachelor of science and bachelor of professional studies, 60 master of science and 38 doctorate of physical therapy). Programs in the college include cardiovascular perfusion, medical imaging, medical technology, medical biotechnology, respiratory care, physical therapy, physician assistant and radiation therapy.

The College of Medicine will award 168 degrees (149 doctor of medicine and 16 master of public health, three certificates of advance study in public health and one MD/MPH). (This number includes the 65 medical students who graduated early.)

The College of Nursing will award 129 degrees and certificates (28 bachelor of science, 94 master of science, three doctorate of nursing practice and four post-master certificates).

Commencement can be viewed here, starting at 10 a.m.: https://livestream.com/accounts/25025579/events/9102736