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Soledad O’Brien Will Be Keynote Speaker At Alfred University Commencement


Dear Alfred University alumni, parents, and friends,

We look forward to hosting our virtual Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 15, beginning at 10:00 a.m. to recognize our Class of 2021 for their hard work and dedication leading up to this momentous occasion. Participating students will include August and December 2020, Allen Term 2021, and May 2021 graduates.

We cordially invite you to view the ceremony which will include a keynote address from award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien and remarks from our two 2021 Marlin Miller Outstanding Senior Award recipients, Aanu Adeloye and Holly Passetti. We will also hear from Greg Connors ’92, the chair of our University’s Board of Trustees.

Soledad O’Brien hosts and produces the Sunday morning show Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien. She also reports for HBO’s Real Sports and is the founder and CEO of Soledad O’Brien Productions, a production company dedicated to uncovering empowering stories centered on often divisive issues of race, class, wealth, opportunity, and poverty.

Soledad O’Brien

Soledad, who earned her college degree from Harvard University, has anchored and reported for NBC (co-anchoring the news program Weekend Today; contributing reports for the Today Show and NBC Nightly News), MSNBC (anchoring the cable network’s weekend morning show and its technology program, The Site), and CNN (co-anchoring American Morning and Starting Point). She has won numerous awards including three Emmys while working for CNN (for her coverage of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2012 Presidential election, and a 2013 series titled “Kids and Race”). She twice has been recognized with a George Peabody award (2005, for coverage of Hurricane Katrina; and 2010, for coverage of BP Gulf Coast oil spill) and also has won the Alfred I. DuPont—Columbia University prize for excellence in broadcast and digital journalism in the public service (for coverage of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami).

A champion of diversity, Soledad has given voice to the underserved and disenfranchised through her Emmy-winning reporting and acclaimed documentary series, Black in America and Latino in America. In 2006, Newsweek magazine named her one of the “15 People Who Make America Great.” In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Soledad and her husband, Brad Raymond, created the PowHERful Foundation to help young women get to and through college. The foundation hosts the PowHerful conferences that support hundreds of young women with mentoring programs.  

Following the shared Commencement ceremony on May 15, our students will join virtual ceremonies hosted by their respective colleges and schools—the School of Art and Design, Inamori School of Engineering, College of Business, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and School of Graduate and Continuing Studies—which will include comments by our respective deans. In these ceremonies, our students’ names will be read and their photos displayed.

Please note that parents, family, and friends are unfortunately not permitted on our campus to watch the May 15 ceremony live due to current COVID restrictions. Further details, including links to access the virtual ceremony, will be posted on our University’s Commencement web page. Please visit the page for updates.

Graduates from our AU-NYC program—who have earned master’s degrees in School Counseling and Public Administration, or completed Advanced Certificate programs in Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling, at our satellite campuses in New York City—will be honored in a separate virtual ceremony on June 17 at 5:00 p.m. Further details of the AU-NYC Commencement ceremony will be announced.

Please join me in congratulating the members of our Class of 2021 for the Alfred University degrees that they have worked so hard to earn and are about to receive. Please also join me in thanking Peter Cuneo ’67, HD ’13, a Life Trustee and past chair of our Board of Trustees, who through his long-standing friendship with Soledad O’Brien recruited her to be our 2021 Commencement keynote speaker.

Fiat Commencement 2021!


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