College Celebrates 50th Commencement

2019 commencement

The Class of 2019 was celebrated during commencement ceremonies at Tompkins Cortland Community College Thursday, May 23. The College held its 50th commencement, recognizing the nearly 600 members of the class in front of a packed crowd of more than 2,000 people in the College's gymnasium.

Board of Trustees Chairman Raymond Schlather opened the ceremony welcoming the graduates and thanking everyone for taking part in the ceremony. “There are certain fundamental issues that are important and need to be restated year after year. At the heart of it is the notion that education makes a difference in society, that education is important. Education is the bedrock of a civilized planet and we cannot stress that too much,” said Schlather. “Education promotes honest and rationale inquiry. Education promotes mutual and respectful debate.”

Schlather continued, saying education is the path to making an impact. “Education opens eyes and it encourages, and indeed requires, tolerance. We live in a country, in a world where every person needs to be educated. Every person needs to stand tall against ignorance. Every person needs to stand for what is right and how to make a difference and to make our lives better.” 

Student Trustee Chad Miller offered comments on behalf of the student body. He started by asking students to stand if they fell into a category he listed, based on their background and what they accomplished at College.  “I wanted to highlight one of the greatest strengths of this institution- our diversity,” said Miller. “I listed off a number of potential barriers or life events that often define us. These barriers and experiences may stop us from achieving success, if we let them, but each graduate sitting before you took the necessary steps to ensure they would not be defeated. While many of us are different in so many ways, tonight, despite our diversity, we all have one thing in common: we are graduates of Tompkins Cortland Community College.” 

The ceremony also featured the announcement of the Friend of the College award. Created in 1987 as a way to honor community members and others who have served the College with special loyalty and dedication, the Friend of the College award is presented by the Board of Trustees annually at commencement.

This year the award was given to retiring professor Frank Bickford. Bickford is finishing his 50th year at the College, having started in 1969, just the second year the College was open. In presenting the award, Chairman Schlather said. “His passion will never diminish. We are acknowledging him not only for his longevity, but also for his passion. He is cherished and will not be forgotten.”