NYSCA Chair Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel among cultural and civic leaders honored by Purchase College

NYSCA Chair Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel



Purchase, NY, May 2, 2017: Purchase College-SUNY will hold its 45th annual commencement ceremony on Friday, May 19, 2017 at 12:30 p.m. at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, NY.

Degrees will be conferred upon nearly 1,100 graduating scholars and artists representing dozens of majors and several countries. The graduates will be joined by thousands of family members, friends, college faculty, and staff members who will come together to celebrate their achievements. The day will also feature the lively music of Purchase faculty member Joe Ferry and the Big Ska Band, creating a festive experience in keeping with the school’s unique culture.

As a center for creative growth and academic excellence, Purchase marks the annual event by honoring dynamic leaders from various fields. This year’s SUNY honorary degree recipients include men and women who have made significant contributions to cultural and civic life in New York, including Former Mayor David N. Dinkins, Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic for The New York Times Holland Cotter, and cultural leader Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel.

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Regina Spektor (’01) will receive the President’s Award for Distinguished Alumni. While Spektor will attend the event, she will not be performing. Cody La Vada, a multi-disciplinary artist, writer, and educator on transgender and LGBTQ issues, will offer remarks on behalf of the senior class.

Purchase College President Thomas J. Schwarz said, “Though many look at graduation as an end, the word commencement itself refers to a beginning. I have no doubt that this year’s graduating class will continue in the Purchase tradition of Thinking Wide Open as they forge new pathways in the liberal arts, humanities, natural and social sciences, and performing and visual arts.”

About the Honorees

David N. Dinkins was elected the 106th mayor of the City of New York in 1989. As the first, and only, African American Mayor of NYC, he was dedicated to changing the lives of minorities and underserved communities through his work to increase housing for the homeless and mentally ill, address the city’s drug and AIDS crises, and help rebuild communities in Harlem, the South Bronx, and Brooklyn. Mayor Dinkins joined Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) as a Professor in the Practice of Urban Public Policy in 1994.

Holland Cotter is co-chief art critic of The New York Times, where he has been on staff since 1998. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2009. He writes about a wide range of art, and has made extended trips to Africa and China for The Times. Well known for criticism that mixes personal, political, and cultural insights, he is being honored for outstanding contributions to the cultural conversation happening today. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he has degrees from Harvard College, Columbia University, and the City University of New York.

Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel is an author, preservationist, civic activist, curator, and television producer. For more than 50 years, she has served the City of New York, New York State, and several presidential administrations in order to expand cultural and historical offerings and resources to a wider audience. Her leadership roles have included director of the New York City Office of Cultural Affairs, founding Director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and founding director of the Highline. She is the founder/chair of the NYC Landmarks50+ Alliance, comprising 187 civic organizations; and the author of 23 books and numerous articles. She is the longest serving member of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission and, as Chair of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center, she created the Cultural Medallion program. In 2016, Governor Cuomo appointed her Chair of the New York State Council on the Arts.

Regina Spektor was born in Moscow and emigrated to New York City at the age of nine. She attended the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College where she studied studio composition and graduated cum laude with a bachelor of music. Her first album was self-published while a senior at Purchase. She went on to release several other albums including 2006’s Begin to Hope, which went Gold, and her most recent album, the acclaimed Remember Us to Life. Her songs have been featured on shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Orange is the New Black, including the Grammy nominated “You’ve Got Time.”

About Purchase CollegeSUNY

Purchase College, part of the State University of New York (SUNY) network of 64 universities and colleges, was founded in 1967 by Governor Nelson Rockefeller. His aspiration for Purchase was to create a dynamic campus that combined conservatory training in the visual and performing arts with programs in the liberal arts and sciences, in order to inspire an appreciation for both intellectual and artistic talents in all students. Today, Purchase College–SUNY is a community of students, faculty, and friends where open-minded engagement with the creative process leads to a lifetime of intellectual growth and professional opportunity. For more information about the College, visit www.purchase.edu


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