Press Releases

May 18, 2003
Groundbreaking Ceremony for New Library/Learning Center to Highlight Southampton College Commencement

Alan Alda to Address the Class of 2003

Darren Johnson
(631) 287 8313
Fax: (631) 283 4081

Southampton, NY - Commencement at Southampton College of Long Island University is always a festive occasion filled with pomp and pride. However, this year's ceremonies, which will be held on Sunday, May 18, will be more special than ever. The College, which will mark its 40th anniversary during the fall of 2003, will not only acknowledge the myriad accomplishments of more than 350 students in this year's graduating class, but also will break ground for a new $10 million, 29,600-square-foot Library/Learning Center.

The building will feature high-tech resources including wireless connectivity and multimedia capabilities, creating a top-notch research and learning destination. The groundbreaking ceremony will be held after the campus's traditional commencement breakfast, just prior to the commencement exercises. Attending the ceremony will be Southampton College's Chancellor Robert F.X. Sillerman and his wife, Laura Baudo Sillerman, whose leadership gift of $5 million has helped to bring the project to fruition. Roger Tilles, chair of Long Island University's Board of Trustees; Dr. David Steinberg, the University's president; Dr. Daniel J. Rodas, the College's provost; Dr. Charles Hitchcock, acting academic dean; William Roberson, head reference librarian; and Congressman Timothy Bishop, an honorary degree recipient, also will be present.

Alan Alda, who will deliver the commencement address, is best known for his role as Benjamin Franklin ?Hawkeye? Pierce in the long running television hit, "M*A*S*H." He has appeared in nearly 20 films, serving as writer, director and star of four of them. He currently hosts "Scientific American Frontiers," an award-winning series of science programs on PBS.

Mr. Alda also has been a friend to the College. He participated in a reading of John Guare's play, "Lydie Breeze," at last year's highly successful Southampton College Writers Conference and more gave an April lecture on dramatic writing to film, theater and English students that attracted hundreds of his fans. He and his wife, Arlene, will be presented with honorary degrees in recognition of both their artistic contributions and their commitment to social activism.

Mrs. Alda is well known for her support of social and political causes. She has been a children's book author and a photographer for many years. Her work has been exhibited at several galleries in New York City and the Hamptons, and her photos and photographic essays have appeared in leading publications, such as The New York Times, Life, Redbook, People, Vogue, New York Magazine and The Saturday Evening Post. Before becoming a photographer and author, Mrs. Alda enjoyed a career as a professional musician. A clarinetist, she played in the Houston Symphony. Prior to that, she studied music in Germany on a Fulbright grant. In Fall 2000, she was honored by the Fulbright Association for her work in the arts.

Also receiving honorary degrees will be Congressman Timothy Bishop and marine science researcher Dr. Carl Safina. Congressman Bishop will return to Southampton College, the institution he formerly led, to receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Congressman Bishop devoted nearly 29 years to Southampton College, serving as provost for 17 of them. Last year, he ran a successful congressional campaign and is now the U.S. Representative for New York's First District. A graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., Congressman Bishop earned an M.P.A. from the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University. During his tenure at Southampton College, he worked in administrative positions that involved nearly every aspect of college life.

Dr. Safina, who founded the Living Oceans Program with the National Audubon Society in 1990, currently serves as president of the Blue Ocean Institute in Amagansett, NY. He and his staff have been engaged in major efforts to overhaul federal fisheries law in the U.S. and to use international agreements to help restore depleted populations of many species of fish. He received his Ph.D. in ecology from Rutgers University and has written more than a hundred publications and articles on ecology and marine conservation, including the best-sellers, "Song for the Blue Ocean" and "The Seafood Lover's Almanac." This year, he started teaching a course in marine herpetology at the College. He will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Science.

The 37th annual commencement will take place in an outdoor ceremony on the lawn in front of Chancellors Hall. President Steinberg will confer degrees upon 293 undergraduates and 59 graduate students. Daniela Gregory and Katie Luxa will be co-valedictorians; both women achieved a perfect 4.0, earning them the right to share the top spot.