May 31, 2013

SUNY Empire State College’s Niagara Frontier Center Celebrates Class of 2013

Student Paulette Harris and UB’s Dr. Henry Taylor Highlight Graduation

(BUFFALO, N.Y. – May 31, 2013) More than 200 students will receive associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the SUNY Empire State College  Niagara Frontier Center 2013 commencement.

“Congratulations to the Empire State College Niagara Frontier Center class of 2013. Today all of your hard work and learning is reflected in your SUNY degree,” said Acting President Meg Benke. “As adults, you brought rich life experiences, passion and determination to your education. By following the road less traveled you have enjoyed the freedom that comes from the education flexibility provided by Empire State College and have taken on the responsibility required to be successful. As you know, this was no easy task. Celebrate with your family, friends, loved ones, faculty mentors and everyone who has shared this remarkable journey with you. All of us are so very proud of all of you and again, congratulations.”

"The degree you earn as an Empire State College student represents not only the completion of your studies, but also is a reflection of your past learning and your future aspirations,” said Nan DiBello, dean of the Niagara Frontier Center.  “Whatever your next steps as one of the 70,000 alumni of Empire State college, you've prepared for your future and for lifelong learning!” 

“Graduation is a vital benchmark in your life,” said Dr. Henry Taylor, director of the State University at Buffalo Center for Urban Studies and the commencement speaker. “It represents both an epilogue and a prologue; an event that reflects the ending of one period and the beginning of another. It constitutes one of those rare moments in the time and space continuum, where the past and the future are fused together and become as one. For this reason, graduation is a time of celebration, reflection and a renewed commitment to meeting successfully the challenges that you will face continuously in this journey across life.”

“Graduating from Empire State College provides significant opportunities and options for us to improve our lives for the benefit of ourselves, our families, our employers and the communities in which we live, work and serve,” said Harris. “Let us utilize this important moment to provide inspiration, direction and encouragement to potential students and use our work and life experiences as a means to contribute to the economic redevelopment of Western New York and its surrounding communities.”

Graduation takes place Saturday, June 1, at 10 a.m. at Buffalo State College’s Rockwell Hall, 1300 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo.

About Henry L. Taylor Jr.

Taylor is an internationally known scholar, founding director of the UB Center for Urban Studies and a full professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning in the School of Architecture and Planning at UB.

Taylor is also the coordinator of the department's community development and urban management specialization. He teaches courses in race, class and gender in the city and in community development and urban management.

About Paulette D. Harris

Buffalo-born Paulette D. Harris has been affiliated with the African-American Cultural Center since 1988, and has served as artistic director of its Paul Robeson Theatre since 1996. She is currently employed full time at WGRZ-TV 2 On Your Side, where she has worked in production since 1997 and served as program director 2002–2008.

As WGRZ program coordinator, Harris was responsible for scheduling all NBC network, syndicated, paid and locally produced broadcasts, participated in contract negotiations and distributed program information to media and listing services. Currently, she is working in the production and news department where she contributes her skills in editing and studio production.

At the African-American Cultural Center, where she began as a volunteer, Harris has worked as lighting and sound designer, resident stage manager, costumier and set designer during her tenure. As a director she received the 1996 Artvoice Artie Award for Best Ensemble Production for the PRT production of “Jar the Floor.” Other PRT directing credits include “Birth,” “Holiday Heart,” “Steal Away,” “Souls of Black Folk” and “Black Nativity,” among many others. Outside of PRT she directed “Women on My Journey” and “A Fool’s Redemption” for Christian Art Productions.

Playwriting credits include “Two Weeks Until The Rest of My Life,” (currently on stage at the Paul Robeson Theatre) “Santa’s Blues,” “Soul of a People: gone but not forgotten” and “What Good Ole’ Days,” co-written with a theater colleague. She currently instructs the African-American Cultural Center Children’s Drama Workshop for students aged seven to 12 and coordinates a theatre arts program for students six to 18 years old. She also is technical director for a collaboration between the Paul Robeson Theatre and Alafia Theatre, a communications project that addresses health-care disparity, made possible by the Erie Niagara Area Health Education Center. Harris is an active board member of the Arts Services Initiative (ASI) of Western New York, Inc. and has served as a panelist for the IND Theatre Artist for the New York State Council on the Arts.

She serves as a coordinator for the Annual Pine Grill Jazz Reunion held in Martin Luther King Jr. Park the first two Sundays in August and throughout the year as a host for the African-American Cultural Center’s Friday Night Jook Joint.

In her spare time, Harris cycles around western New York and enjoys jazz at several outdoor festivals throughout the region.

About SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College was established in 1971 to offer adult learners the opportunity to earn associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career. Students engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to learn at the time, place and pace they choose.

The college serves more than 20,000 students worldwide at more than 35 locations in the state of New York and online. Its 66,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more. More information about the college is available here.


Graduation contact: Jane Cudmore

716-868-7800, ext. 3836


Media contact: David Henahan, director of communications

518-587-2100, ext. 2918

518-321-7038 (after hours and on weekends)