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Baruch College Celebrates Twin Commencement Ceremonies at Madison Square Garden

-- Legal Scholar Alan Dershowitz, Author Alma Guillermoprieto Deliver Keynote Speeches--

Photo - Commencement 2008 valedictorian Jonathan N. Rich

Jonathan N. Rich, the Valedictorian for the Class of 2008, is a fourth-generation CUNY alumnus who graduated with a 4.0 grade point average.

-- Photo by Phil Gallo

New York, NY – May 28, 2008 – Baruch College celebrated its 43rd Commencement Exercises, bestowing 3,746 degrees on beaming graduates of the Class of 2008 in twin morning and afternoon ceremonies held at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden. Two ceremonies were required to accommodate the proud parents and friends of the graduates who flocked to MSG with bouquets of flowers, bottles of champagne, and cameras to record the happy day.

The two-part graduation ceremony featured two distinct and distinguished Commencement speakers. Alma Guillermoprieto, a prize-winning author on Latin America, addressed the graduates at the 11 am ceremony, and Alan M. Dershowitz, one of the nation’s foremost lawyers, spoke at the 3:30 pm ceremony. Guillermoprieto was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, while Dershowitz received a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

Kathleen Waldron, president of Baruch College, presided at both the morning and afternoon ceremonies. A total of 2,593 undergraduate and 1,153 graduate degrees were bestowed on the Class of 2008.

The 2008 graduates mirrored the amazing ethnic and geographic diversity of Baruch College. Though most Baruch students live in the five boroughs of New York, 60% of them are immigrants or the children of immigrants. At Wednesday’s ceremony, students born in the Dominican Republic, Pakistan, the Ukraine and China sat alongside natives of Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island, listening to speakers challenge them to become the future leaders of New York and the next generation of business innovators.

The Valedictorian for the Class of 2008 was Jonathan N. Rich, a finance major who compiled a perfect 4.0 average. Rich is a fourth-generation graduate of The City University of New York, the 12th member of his family, including mother, father and brother, to receive a degree from one of New York City’s public colleges. Jonathan addressed his fellow graduates at the morning ceremony.

Present in the audience for Jonathan’s speech was his aunt, Linda, who spoke from the same stage in 1982 when she was the Baruch College Salutatorian and the Theatre at MSG was still the Felt Forum.

The Salutatorian was Alex Kreydin, who immigrated to the United States from the Ukraine with his family in 1995. Also a finance major, Kreydin compiled a near-perfect 3.99 grade point average and became a self-described “passionate New Yorker” during the years he attended Baruch. Alex addressed his classmates at the afternoon ceremony.

The oldest graduate of the Class of 2008 was Henrietta W. Maier, 66, of Glendale, Long Island. Maier, who first began taking classes in 1960, will be awarded a bachelor of arts in English Literature. The youngest graduate, Arshi Khan, was born on Sept. 19, 1988 and is 19 years old. She earned a BBA in Accountancy and will be assuming a position at Ernst & Young in October. She is a resident of Long Island.

The morning Commencement speaker, Alma Guillermoprieto, was born in Mexico and has been writing about Latin America for a variety of publications, including the New York Review of Books and The New Yorker, for the past 20 years. Guillermoprieto is the author of four books. Samba (1990), an account of the year she spent with the impoverished carnival-makers of Brazil, was nominated for the 1990 National Book Critics Circle Award. The Heart That Bleeds (1994) and Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America (2001) are collections of her essays. Her most recent book is Dancing with Cuba: A Memoir of the Revolution (2001).

Guillermoprieto has received numerous awards, including the George Polk Award and, in 1995, a MacArthur Fellowship. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001.

Alan M. Dershowitz has been described as one of our “most distinguished defenders of individual rights” and “the best-known criminal lawyer in the world.” He is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and has published more than 100 articles in magazines and journals, such as the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Dershowitz is the author of 27 fiction and nonfiction books and has a worldwide readership. In addition to his numerous law review publications, he has written, taught and lectured on history, philosophy, psychology, literature, mathematics, music, sports—and even delicatessens.

Dershowitz is the recipient of many honors and awards, including the William O. Douglas First Amendment Award presented to him by the Anti-Defamation League. The New York Criminal Bar Association has honored him for his “outstanding contribution as a scholar and dedicated defender of human rights.”

Click here for more photographs from Commencement 2008.


About Baruch College

A senior college within The City University of New York, Baruch has an enrollment of approximately 15,500 students in three schools: the Zicklin School of Business, the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Public Affairs. A thriving, urban institution, Baruch has repeatedly been cited as the most diverse college in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Baruch, which became an autonomous four-year institution in 1968, traces its origins back to the City College School of Business and Civic Administration and, ultimately, to the Free Academy, established in New York City in 1847 as the first free public institution of higher education in the nation.

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