Speeches & Statements

Campus and National Speeches

President's Fall Convocation August 2013

Smithsonian African American Museum Groundbreaking

Teachers College 2014 Medal for Distinguished Service

Interviews that Matter April 2014


2014-15 Statements to the Campus

A Year-End Message from President Butts

May 13, 2015

To the members of the SUNY Old Westbury community,

As we bring this academic year to a close, I wanted to ensure that we all take time to celebrate the achievements of our faculty, staff and students. More importantly, I want to thank all who are involved with SUNY Old Westbury for making 2014-15 an exciting and successful year.

I am proud of the students who attend Old Westbury. Our students this year excelled in and out of the classroom. Old Westbury students shined at the Model United Nations, were honored at CSTEP and other professional conferences, and earned Gilman and Chancellor’s Awards. Our student-athletes excelled also, with the most recent evidence being the conference championship and NCAA bid earned by the Men’s Baseball Team.

I am also so very proud of the faculty of SUNY Old Westbury. Their teaching, scholarship and service continue to enhance the reputation of our College. Whether in the classroom or through research and scholarship, our faculty members, both full-time and part-time, continue to go above and beyond in helping our students prepare to own the future they want for themselves.

So, too, am I proud of the members of our staff. Outside the classroom, we saw the implementation of many new co-curricular programs and administrative initiatives designed to create and sustain a welcoming and inclusive campus.

We can all be proud of the ongoing development of our facilities, including this year the completion of the first phase of renovations to the Campus Library. In the years to come, our goal is to improve and expand the Natural Science Building and to make improvements to learning and gathering places in the Campus Center.

My pride also extends to our alumni, who will grow to more than 25,000 strong this Sunday when we celebrate the Class of 2015. I meet them all the time – doctors, lawyers, community activists, entrepreneurs and more. Our graduates are working to make their lives and our world a better place and every single one that I meet tells me of their love of Old Westbury.

As we look back on all we have accomplished in 2014-15, I want to congratulate everyone on this campus for the part they have played in creating a culture of success for our students, faculty, staff and the communities we serve. This spring, we began the commemoration of SUNY Old Westbury’s 50th Anniversary – “A Celebration of Educational Leadership and Empowerment.” I look forward to continuing that celebration in the fall with more exciting, informative, and thought-provoking events.

I am concluding my 15th year as College President and I have never been more proud to be associated with this institution. I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish in 2015-16.

2015 Commencement Speakers

May 5, 2015

I am proud to announce this morning that SUNY Old Westbury will bring two national leaders to campus on Sunday, May 17, to provide addresses during the College's Commencement Ceremonies.

At 9 a.m., U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will address those students graduating with degrees offered by the departments housed in the School of Arts and Sciences. With her commitment to transparency in government and staunch advocacy for the rights of women, Senator Gillibrand offers an important perspective on the power needed to make change in our communities and nation. Her work led TIME Magazine to name her as one of 2014’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” and the Daily News to place her number four on its list of “50 Most Powerful Women in New York.” The Senator has also been recognized as one of Newsweek and The Daily Beast’s “150 Women Who Shake the World.”

At 3 p.m., Dr. Rudolph Crew, currently president of Medgar Evers College and former Chancellor of New York City Public Schools, among others, will address the graduates from the School of Education and School of Business. Like our College itself, Dr. Crew has committed his career to improving academic performance among students, in particular those from diverse backgrounds. His work has been honored with such awards as the NAACP Educational Leadership Award, the Arthur Ashe Leadership Award, and American Association of School Administrators' National Superintendent of the Year.

Each in his or her own way exemplify key elements of our College's mission, particularly the importance of stimulating in people a passion for learning and the ongoing need to build a more just world for all to share.

I look forward to welcoming both Senator Gillibrand and President Crew to campus as we together celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2015.

Sexual Violence Victim/Survivor Bill of Rights

January 29, 2015

To all members of the College Community,

The State University of New York and the College at Old Westbury are committed to providing options, support and assistance to victims/survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and/or stalking to ensure that they can continue to participate in College/University-wide and campus programs, activities, and employment. All victims/survivors of these crimes and violations, regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, creed, age, disability, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, familial status, pregnancy, predisposing genetic characteristics, military status, domestic violence victim status, or criminal conviction, have the following rights, regardless of whether the crime or violation occurs on campus, off campus, or while studying abroad:

The right to:

  • Have disclosures of sexual violence treated seriously.
  • Make a decision about whether or not to disclose a crime or incident and participate in the conduct or criminal justice process free from outside pressures from college officials.
  • Be treated with dignity and to receive from college officials courteous, fair, and respectful health care and counseling services.
  • Be free from any suggestion that the victim/survivor is at fault when these crimes and violations are committed, or should have acted in a different manner to avoid such a crime.
  • Describe the incident to as few individuals as practicable and not to be required to unnecessarily repeat a description of the incident.
  • Be free from retaliation by the College, the accused, and/or their friends, family and acquaintances.
  • Exercise civil rights and practice of religion without interference by the investigative, criminal justice, or conduct process of the College.

OPTIONS IN BRIEF:

Victims/survivors have many options that can be pursued simultaneously, including one or more of the following:

  • Receive resources, such as counseling and medical attention;
  • Confidentially or anonymously disclose a crime or violation (for detailed information on confidentiality and privacy, visit  http://www.oldwestbury.edu/policies/options-confidentially-disclosing-sexual-violence);
  • Make a report to:
    • An employee with the authority to address complaints, including the Title IX Coordinator, a Student Conduct employee, or a Human Resources employee;
    • University Police;
    • Local law enforcement; and/or
    • Family Court or Civil Court.

A comprehensive list of reporting and support resources available to all members of our campus community can be found at http://www.oldwestbury.edu/content/where-get-helpresources

In addition to this Bill of Rights, all members of our campus community are urged to review the College’s Sexual Violence Response Policy (http://www.oldwestbury.edu/policies/sexual-violence-response-policy) and the Options for Confidentially Disclosing Sexual Violence (http://www.oldwestbury.edu/policies/options-confidentially-disclosing-sexual-violence).

All on campus play an essential role in creating a safe, responsive atmosphere where we together live, learn and work. Please contact either Title IX Coordinator William Kimmins or Vice President for Student Affairs Wayne Edwards should you have any questions about this information or about how you can support our College in this effort.

Thank you.

Celebrating the College's 50th Anniversary

December 17, 2014

To the Campus Community,

As all on our campus look forward to closing the fall 2014 season and celebrating with friends and families, I wanted to ask that we also set our sights further ahead.

The resolution that began the life of SUNY College at Old Westbury as an institution of higher education was passed by the SUNY Board of Trustees in June 1965. As 2015 comes into view, I look forward to celebrating all that this College has accomplished in its first 50 years, including specifically the values for which it stands, and the people – students, alumni, friends, faculty and staff alike – who have helped Old Westbury succeed.

To that end, I have asked a group from our campus to serve as the 50th Anniversary Committee to steer our efforts and to plan a variety of events and activities to mark this special point in our campus’ history. A full listing of the committee membership appears at the bottom of this email. The committee will work towards creating both on-campus and off-campus events that raise the profile of our institution, provide for fund-raising opportunities, and educate our students, alumni, friends and supporters of the ongoing impact of our College. Other members of our campus community will be approached to work on subcommittees and special events. And, as always, volunteers are welcome.

I also want to ensure that all on campus have the opportunity to participate, and that begins with offering ideas and insights into the types of activities that we might use as part of the celebration. Please use the online form available at http://www.oldwestbury.edu/50th-anniversary/suggestions to provide your input. This information will be sent directly to the committee’s co-chairs for use in planning and development.

Best wishes to all this holiday season.

Campus 50th Anniversary Committee

  • Mr. Michael Kinane, Asst. to the President for Advancement (co-chair)
  • Dr. Zenaida Madurka, Associate Professor, Modern Languages Department (co-chair)
  • Dr. Laura Anker, Distinguished Service Professor, American Studies Department
  • Ms. Carolyn Bennett, Director, Community Relations
  • Ms. Rita Buttermilch. Director of Graduate Business Programs
  • Ms. Penny Chin, Director, Alumni Affairs
  • Dr. Thomas Delgiudice, Professor,Politics, Economics & Law Department
  • Dr. Wayne Edwards, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs
  • Mr. Richard Golder, Student, Criminology
  • Ms. Janine Grey, Student, Computer Information Sciences
  • Ms. Randi Harris, Assistant to the Senior Vice President for Business & Finance
  • Dr. Robert Hoyte, Distinguished Teaching Professor, Chemistry & Physics
  • Dr. Judith Lloyd, Professor, School of Education and Chemistry & Physics Department
  • Mr. Ray Maggiore, Director, Capital Planning
  • Ms. Susan McCotter, Maintenance & Facilities Department
  • Mr. Tim McGarry, Director of Facilities
  • Ms. Diane McLean, Manager, Office of Payroll
  • Ms. Suzanne McLoughlin, Director, Center for Student Leadership and Involvement
  • Mr. Frank Pizzardi, Director, Admissions
  • Ms. Samantha Quinn, Health Educator, Student Health Services
  • Ms. Mona Rankin, Chief of Staff
  • Ms. Regina Rudowski, Sociology Department
  • Mr. Usama Shaikh, Assistant Vice President, Student Affairs
  • Mr. Steve Siena, Deputy Chief, University Police
  • Mr. Peter Sicardi, Student, Biological Sciences

 

Ensuring a Supportive Community

October 24, 2014

To the Old Westbury Community:

Across our state and nation, more and more reports are surfacing concerning real and unsubstantiated threats being made against institutions of higher education or the people who study and work there.

In this context, it seems prudent to remind all on campus of the risks and penalties of making threats, along with other disparaging and offensive remarks, through any form of interpersonal communication or social media application.

State and Federal Law, along with our own Code for Student Conduct, are applied as appropriate when the College learns of such communication. Please know that the College will use all available resources, including external law enforcement agencies, to identify those involved if necessary.

There is no one incident on our campus or elsewhere that has led me to share this email with you today. Instead, it’s the accumulation of events reported recently in the news that makes me want to affirm our College’s position.

In an age of global interaction, both in person and online, more and more opportunities exist for us to relate with people from all walks of life, those who we know well and those who we know not at all. As a community dedicated to learning and development, we must act, individually and collectively, and together we can continue to create a safe, social, supportive environment for all who study and work here. I look forward to continuing to do that with all of your help. Thank you.

It's On Us

September 29, 2014

To the Old Westbury Community,

U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden recently announced "It's On Us," a national public awareness and education campaign to engage college students and all members of campus communities in preventing sexual assault.

Sexual assault and violence cannot be tolerated, whether on our campus or in any other avenue in our lives. As a community dedicated to learning and development, we must act, individually and collectively, to do all that we can to educate people young and old and to prevent these kinds of acts from occurring.

According to the White House, the “It’s On Us” campaign aims to fundamentally shift the way we think about sexual assault, by inspiring everyone to see it as their responsibility to do something, big or small, to prevent it. The campaign reflects the belief that sexual assault isn’t only an issue involving a crime committed by a perpetrator against a victim, but one in which the rest of us also have a role to play.

I urge all members of our campus community to participate. Your first step can be to announce, publicly, that "It's On Us." There are several ways members of our community can participate:

  • Change your Facebook profile photo to the "It's On Us" logo, which can be downloaded via the ""It's On Us" website at http://itsonus.org.
  • Post a short Vine or YouTube video to your social media accounts. Make sure to use the hash tags #OWsupports #ItsOnUs.
  • Simply sign the pledge that is available at http://itsonus.org.

I've signed the pledge and followers of the college's social media accounts will see my video in the coming days. I also urge all on campus today to attend RAINN Day and raise your voice against instances of abuse and sexual violence. Held in collaboration with the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network, this annual event allows students to share information, increase their awareness, and see through a display of 452 umbrellas and raindrops just how many members of our campus might be affected by these issues. RAINN Day takes place today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Campus Center F Wing and outside the New Academic Building and offers a great setting against which to make our individual and campus positions against abuse and violence known.

Whether you choose one of the actions above, or take part in each way, please be sure to take an active role in committing to the important work of the “It’s On Us” campaign. Of course, being part of a public movement is important. More critical, though, is that we remember to take action when we see or hear of acts, words and incidents of sexual assault, harassment or any other event where one person belittles or discriminates against another.

Issues of sexual abuse, domestic violence and more are all around us. More than 10 percent of students on campus have participated in the recently completed Climate Survey on Sexual Assault, another effort being made by Old Westbury to understand issues such as this that affect our students. Results of that survey are being tabulated and will be released shortly. All of these activities are done because we are committed to providing a safe, healthy, and non-discriminatory environment for each and every person who studies, lives and works on our campus.

Only through this kind of awareness and action can we be sure to decrease, and hopefully eliminate, these kinds of damaging activities. Thank You.

9/11 Anniversary

September 11, 2014

To the Old Westbury Community, Today marks the 13th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. As a campus community, we should take time to remember the terrible events of that day and the thousands of lives that were senselessly lost. Those who lost loved ones, especially those members of the Old Westbury community who were and remain affected, should be at the forefront of our thoughts today.

Particularly, we remember the graduates who perished that day: James J. Carson, Class of 1993, of Baldwin, New York, Dennis Michael Edwards, Class of 1988, of Huntington, New York, Wade Brian Green, Class of 1984, of Westbury, New York, Joseph Maloney, Class of 1980, of Farmingville, New York, and Anthony Perez, Class of 2000, of Locust Valley, New York.

While time continues to pass and new edifices rise to replace those no longer standing, the events of 9/11remain vivid in our memories and serve as an ongoing reminder not only of the losses we suffered but of how we came together, as neighbors, citizens, friends and family, in the aftermath of tragedy. Although sometimes forgotten and strained, the strength from our shared humanity that was forged in those days remains our greatest asset.

As we mark this anniversary, we should also remember to thank the first responders and those serving in the armed forces for their efforts to protect and serve our nation.

While I know we will each in our own ways observe this anniversary, we as a campus also have opportunities to come together in honor of those lost on 9/11. The college’s annual “Walk to Remember 9/11” begins at 5 p.m. outside the Clark Center and, before tip-off of tonight’s women’s volleyball game, a tribute to our lost alumni will take place. If you have the opportunity to participate in these events, please do so.

Old Westbury is a place that has rightfully been celebrated for years for bringing people of all races, creeds, and socioeconomic backgrounds together. We must remember that our world is made up of people like ourselves. We may look different, hold different beliefs, and speak different languages, but we are one in our humanity.

Honoring the memories of those lost on 9/11 is one way we can all be mindful of that important truth.

Thank you.

College at Old Westbury Administration

August 27, 2014

As we launch the 2014 – 2015 academic year, I am pleased to begin my 15th year as President of the College at Old Westbury. In so many ways my tenure here has been rewarding. The College has experienced enrollment growth and maintained our diversity while imposing higher selectivity; the faculty has grown in numbers and accomplishments; academic programs have been enriched and expanded and the campus has experienced many capital improvements. These accomplishments are attributable to all who work here and continue to dedicate your services to our community.

I have given much thought to the administrative areas of the College and how we might better operate. I have looked closely at functions and personnel. In doing so, I am pleased to share with you that effective August 28, 2014, the following will be in place:

  • The Division of Enrollment Services under the continued leadership of Vice President Mary Marquez Bell will become a direct report to the Division of Academic Affairs.
  • Computing Services and Capital Planning will become a direct report to the Division of Business and Finance.
  • Ms. Mona Rankin will serve as Chief of Staff.
  • Dr. Patrick O’Sullivan will serve as Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs.
  • Mr. Len Davis will serve as Senior Vice President of Business and Finance and Chief Financial Officer.
  • Mr. Usama Shaikh will serve as Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs.
  • Mr. Frank Pizzardi will serve as Director of Admissions.
  • Ms. Sarah Taiclet will serves as Associate Director of Admissions.
  • Ms. Becky Evans will serve as Assistant Director of Admissions.

I applaud and graciously thank those mentioned above along with the entire faculty and staff for your continued commitment to the College at Old Westbury. I look forward to working with you this 2014 – 2015 academic year.

 

An archive of messages from the 2013-14 academic year is also available.