Manhattan College Awards Undergraduate Degrees at 169th Commencement

Manhattan College awarded nearly 700 degrees in some 40 major fields of study from its five schools in arts, business, education, engineering and science at its 169th Undergraduate Commencement on May 22.

Manhattan College awarded nearly 700 degrees in some 40 major fields of study from its five schools in arts, business, education, engineering and science at its 169th Undergraduate Commencement on May 22. Students who completed their studies in September 2010, February 2011 and May 2011 participated in the ceremony in the College’s Draddy Gymnasium.

“Thanks to everyone here today who has shared in this rite of passage and this affirmation of our sacred charge to attend to the education, in mind and heart, of these wonderful young men and women,” said Brennan O’Donnell, Ph.D., president of Manhattan College, as he congratulated students, and thanked families and teachers for their part in assisting students in reaching their goals.

During the Commencement, William Kennedy was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. A novelist, he is the executive director of the New York State Writers Institute.

In a citation written by Peter Quinn ’69, a novelist, political historian and a former corporate editorial director for Time Warner, Quinn called Kennedy, “a great literary stylist, who has made a permanent contribution to American letters. Your voice is unique and unmistakable: hard-edged, ironic, unsentimental, filled with wisdom, understanding and penetrating insight, it is imprinted on every page of your work.”

“Creating something new means you change the world, even if you don’t intend to,” said Kennedy, as he addressed the class of 2011. Kennedy explained how he is about to publish a novel that he has been working on for nearly decade, and after all this hard work, he has reached his goal, which the graduates will, too, as they go out and face the world.

Katherine P. Krauss, the 2011 valedictorian, also encouraged her fellow classmates, “Each of us graduates has been given both a gift and a power through our education.”

Kennedy’s writing centers on life in Albany, N.Y., where he grew up and now resides again. His novels include The Ink Truck (1968), Legs (1975), Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game (1978), Ironweed (1983; screenplay for Hector Babenco film of the novel, 1987), Quinn’s Book (1988), Very Old Bones (1992), The Flaming Corsage (1996), and Roscoe (2002). Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes will be published in October 2011.

Kennedy co-authored with Francis Coppola the screenplay of Cotton Club (1984); is the author of O Albany! (1983), an impressionistic history of his city; and Riding the Yellow Trolley Car (1993), a collection of essays. In 1996, Grand View premiered in Albany, Kennedy’s play debut. In addition, he has written children’s books with son, Brendan: Charlie Malarkey and the Belly Button Machine (1986) and Charlie Malarkey and the Singing Moose (1994).

Kennedy has taught writing at Cornell University, and his novel Ironweed received a great deal of recognition and was chosen by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century. The book also won the National Book Critics Circle Award (1983), the Pulitzer Prize (1984), and a PEN-Faulkner Award for Fiction (1984). As a distinguished novelist, Kennedy is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, is a Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters in France, and a MacArthur Fellow.

He graduated from Siena College and was awarded the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1983. Kennedy is also a graduate of Christian Brothers Academy in Albany, N.Y.

View photos from the May 19th Spring Honors Convocation and Undergraduate Commencement below.

To see an archived video copy of the Undergraduate Commencement on May 21, click here.