Hartwick College’s 2022 debut exercises marked a number of significant events in its 225 years the story.
Today’s ceremony honors the graduates of the College’s first Master’s program. It served as the last Hartwick College Commencement under President Margaret L. Drugovitch P’12, who is retiring after 14 years at the helm. And for the first time in three years, the Hartwick community was able to gather under a gala tent on Elmore Field to celebrate the transition from a class of students to alumni.
Hundreds of people braved near 90-degree heat to gather above the town of Oneonta to celebrate student accomplishments, watch them receive their diplomas, and take part in this momentous occasion.
After Broome County Celtic Pipes and Drums led the celebration march of graduates, faculty and staff into the flag-adorned tent, the celebration began like all Hartwick rallies. President Drugovich held up the Hartwick Bell and declared with an enthusiastic ringing, “The company of scholars are assembled, let the ceremonies begin!”
After a performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by the Hartwick College Commencement Choir, President of the Student Government Association Pauller Awino Musyoke ’23 and David Long ’83, H’14Chairman of the Hartwick Board of Directors, extended their congratulations to the graduates.
“As a rising senior, I am in awe of all you have accomplished and applaud you all,” Musyoke said. “Hang on to that feeling, hug it for as long as you can, because you did it and deserve to be proud.
Recalling his own long journey from Liverpool, England to Oyaron Hill, Long praised the new graduates for their resilience. “You have been through unprecedented disruption over the past two years,” he said. “The rites of passage – for all ages – have been turned upside down. You had to go through your journey of learning and life with unique determination. But we are here together. You have found your way. Good work.”
Hartwick Faculty Chair and Professor of Economics Dr. Karl Seeley present Vandia Williams ’23 with the Abraham L. Kellogg Oratory Award. The faculty considered Williams the best orator among seniors who gave speeches at the honors convocation.
Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Laurel Bongiorno then took the podium to announce the Margaret B. Bunn Award for Excellence in Teaching.
“It is a day to honor students who have completed their studies at Oyaron Hill,” she said. “It’s also a day to honor their teachers.”
The annual award is given to a faculty member judged by students who graduated five years early for being the most outstanding teacher they studied with. The 2022 Bunn Prize recipient, Bongiorno said, is associate professor of chemistry and chair of the department, Dr. Andrew J. Piefer.
Piefer earned a BS in chemistry from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from New Mexico State University. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine before joining Hartwick. In 2013, Piefer was granted tenure and six years later won the Alumni Association Outstanding Employee Award. His promotion to full professor, Bongiorno said, was recently approved by the college’s board of trustees.
Currently, he teaches chemistry and biochemistry classes, Bongiorno said, and that Piefer was also an early leader in teaching FlightPath and First-Year Seminar classes.
“He engages Hartwick students in his research in ways that involve them in new scientific discoveries, with a lasting impact on his students,” she added. “I believe Margaret Bunn would wholeheartedly agree that Dr Andy Piefer deserves this award named in his honour.”
Picking up the podium, Drugovich spoke about Trustee Emerita Elaine H. Arnold ’69, before presenting him with the President’s Award for Liberal Arts in Practice. Arnold graduated from Hartwick with a degree in sociology and later earned her master’s degree at New York University and pursued doctoral studies.
Although he didn’t find many openings available after graduating in corporate finance, Drugovich said, Arnold took a job as a secretary and used it to start his career. ascent. That journey led to increasingly responsible roles at companies like EF Hutton and Morgan Stanley, culminating in positions like vice president at Citicorp.
Rather than retiring from a prestigious career, Arnold spent more than 20 years volunteering in New York City schools, helping students navigate the college application process.
“You say your work experiences have ‘opened up the world’ to you,” Drugovich said. “You, in turn, have now opened the world up to children with aspirations, as you have, but they needed someone – they needed you – to encourage, push, challenge and support them. Above all, for the purposes of this award, you have done this work because you believe that education is the key to a satisfying and productive life.
After a performance of “Joy Revisited” by Frank Ticheli, performed by the Hartwick College Wind Ensemble and conducted by Robert John’s ’22Drugovich introduced the trustee Sarah “Sally” Griffiths Herbert ’88, M’19who would address the class of 2022 on the occasion of their graduation.
Griffiths Herbert earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology at Hartwick, with departmental honors and a minor in biology. She worked as a field archaeologist for Boston University’s Office of Public Archeology. She and her husband, Tim, went into business together – first as owners of the Ski Whaleback, Ltd. ski resort, now as owners of Ring Brook Farm, both located in New Hampshire.
Griffiths Herbert reflected on the many facets of her Hartwick experience, which included being “an athlete, Greek, mural painter, Pine Lake lover, Deer Run skier, Leitzell resident and Town House tenant.” She quoted her favorite teachers and mentors and said, “You know me because, in many ways, I am you!
She revealed that she was considering a transfer during her freshman year at Hartwick, but support from friends and teachers led her to stay. She stuck with it, graduated, and flourished. The personal growth she made on Oyaron Hill became the focus of her remarks. “I became myself on that hill, like the person you see now,” she said.
Griffiths Herbert offered three methods to stimulate such personal growth: “look and listen”, “find a balance that supports you” and “perspective”. She used anecdotes from Olympic athletes to support each point. “Those are three tools you can use to adjust your trajectory throughout your career,” she said.
She celebrated the liberal arts training of her and her husband, Tim, who developed a skill set that made him able to “adapt to any work situation, absorb new information , to see an old problem in a new light, to quickly change hats, to pivot, and to show leadership.
Griffiths Herbert also asked new grads not to forget their alma mater. “Come back when you can,” she insisted. “Your time, your talent and your treasure are needed, and your friends at Hartwick will offer you different places around the table to meet again.
“Class of 2022, watch and learn, seek the balance that supports you and enrich your perspective,” she concluded. “Go out and change the world for the better. Class of 2022, your runway is clear for takeoff. You have this!
Bongiorno then introduced the Class of 2022 to the crowd. At the central moment of the ceremony, the graduates received the Hartwick undergraduate cowl and were welcomed by Drugovich, much to the delight of their assembled friends and family.
The first cohort of graduates from the College’s Master’s in Translational Biomedical Research Management program was announced first, followed by bachelor’s candidates.
Once each graduate has been individually recognized, the Chairman of the Hartwick College Alumni Association Board of Trustees Michelle Brown ’87 welcomed new elders into the body of 18,000. The alumni association presented each graduate with a replica of the Hartwick bell and a memento that celebrates the College’s 225th anniversary.
“Your Hartwick degree will take you to amazing places,” Brown said. “I encourage you to seize every opportunity. You are ready to accept the challenges ahead, use your personal strengths and embrace the future. We recognize that each of you IS the future!”
As she led the class in a ceremonial ringing of their replica bells, the tent filled with the joyful sound of new elders and their proud families.
“Class of 2022, you heard the bell ring,” Drugovich said in his closing remarks. “Now you leave Hartwick an educated person. You may have traveled the world. You may have done a remarkable thing or two. You probably learned more than expected, and maybe you learned more than you thought possible.
“I hope what you have learned best is how to learn from others. This moment also belongs to those who have cared for and nurtured you throughout this journey to this day,” she continued, leading the class in thanking their families, faculty and staff alike, noting that all helped the graduates achieve this important milestone.
Before closing the ceremony, President Drugovich thanked the community of Hartwick.
“I want to say it’s been a great honor to lead Hartwick over the past 14 years,” she said. “I thank the Board of Directors for their partnership and support, our colleagues for their camaraderie, and our wonderful students for showing me, time and time again, that where there is learning, there is success. ‘hope. I wish this great College, and all its people, much success in the years to come.
The ceremony concluded with a performance of the Alma Mater, Oyaron, Hill of Dreams, under the direction of Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Andrew Pease and performed by the Hartwick College Commencement Choir and the Hartwick College Wind Ensemble. The graduates left the sprawling tent behind the Broome County Celtic Pipes and Drums Celebration March, heading into the arms of their proud families, towards their bright future as Hartwick College alumni.