Division of Graduate Studies Commencement Ceremony Celebrates Class of 2015
Guest Speakers: Be Life-Long Learners and Generous of Spirit
Students, faculty, and administrators of the Division of Graduate Studies (DGS) at Touro College celebrated the graduation of the class of 2015 at a joyous commencement ceremony at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, on June 23.
To rounds of thunderous applause, Dr. Nadja Graff, Vice President of the DGS, introduced the deans of the graduate schools: Sabra Brock, Ph.D. (Business), Arnold Spinner, Ph.D. (Education), Michael A. Shmidman, Ph.D., (Jewish Studies), Richard Waxman, Ph.D. (Psychology), Steven Huberman, Ph.D. (Social Work), and Isaac Herskowitz, Ed.D (Technology).
Dr. Graff urged the honored graduates to stay focused and remain life-long learners. “You have the skills, dedication, and determination to make a positive impact in our global society,” said Dr. Graff.
Rabbi Moshe Krupka, Executive Vice President of the Touro College & University System, presented the commencement invocation, offering graduates of the division’s six individual degree programs, sage words about the future as they embark on careers in their chosen professions.
“These students have worked so hard. They have set their goals high and stand before you today as proud role models who will inspire others as they move forward into their professional careers. Our hearts are filled with pride and joy as we gaze out upon the graduates and grasp the talent, achievement and potential they represent,” said Rabbi Krupka.
On behalf of Touro College President Dr. Alan Kadish, Executive Vice President David Raab noted that Jewish intellectual tradition was an important element of Touro’s ethics, and quoted a proverb from the Talmud: “the main thing isn’t the studying, it is the doing.”
Recognition of Dr. LaMar Miller
Dr. Arnold Spinner, Interim Dean of the Graduate School of Education, paid tribute to his longtime esteemed colleague, Dr. LaMar Miller, Dean Emeritus of the GSE, for his significant contributions to education, research, and initiatives in understanding and resolving educational discrimination, and addressing the challenges facing our nation’s schools. “He is a compassionate scholar, the epitome of professorship, and a man who is devoted to making this a better world,” said Dean Spinner.
Dean Miller was recruited by Touro College Founder and President Dr. Bernard Lander, [of blessed memory] and established the Lander Center for Educational Research. His achievements at Touro include noteworthy initiatives in research, academic review, and raising funds for student equity assistance from the U.S. Dept. of Education.
Commencement Speaker Ricky Cohen
Dr. Donne Kampel, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, introduced Commencement speaker Ricky Cohen, Chairman and CEO of the retail franchise, The Conway Organization, a discount clothing franchise he transformed from a small family business into a successful enterprise that grew fortyfold. He is a motivational speaker and the author of articles and books about education and inspiration for individual and corporate success.
Cohen said the key to success is to be true to oneself and to reach out to others. “Every process with another individual should be charged with something kind. Be generous of spirit, to yourself, and to others,” he said.
Graduates should continue to pursue their intellectual growth, Cohen added. “Keep studying, even if it is only for 10 minutes a day. At the end of the year, you will have 3,650 more minutes of learning than you otherwise would have had.”
Dr. Kampel presented Cohen with an honorary award for his leadership, wisdom, and his contributions to the business community. His book, Risk to Succeed, was distributed to the graduates during the assembly.
The student speakers who addressed the assembly were Chayim Herskowitz (Graduate School of Business), Tzivia Meth (Graduate School of Jewish Studies), Hila Revah (Graduate School of Social Work), Cindy Christensen (Graduate School of Technology), Dominique Ramos (Graduate School of Psychology), and Dina M. Albert (Graduate School of Education).
Albert is a sixth-grade teacher who completed Master’s Degree programs at Touro in Special Education and Literacy and obtained both degrees through Touro’s online DGS program. She championed the process of education, over the project it produces, and commended her professors for thoroughly developing academic relationships with the online student community.
“Our professors have encouraged us to be curious, to be passionate and to be present. Despite the technological barrier that divides faculty with the online student, my professors and I had engaged in meaningful discourse. We had debates, and we shared explorations and celebrations all through the computer and phone. They had gotten to know me as a student, as an educator, and as a person,” said Albert.
The DGS awarded 549 degree and advanced degree certificates. Over 2,100 guests attended the ceremony.