Over 1,100 Touro College Students from Division of Graduate Studies Celebrate Annual Commencement at Madison Square Garden

Date: June 29, 2010
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Barbara Franklin
Director of Communications
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Dr. Alan Kadish, Touro’s New President and CEO, and Rabbi Doniel Lander, Touro’s New Chancellor, Laud Graduates; Ceremony Dedicated to School’s Founder, Dr. Bernard Lander.

New York, N.Y. – Touro College students from all seven of Touro’s graduate schools received master’s degrees or advanced bilingual certificates at commencement ceremonies on Thursday, June 10th, in The Theatre at Madison Square Garden.

Alan Kadish, M.D., president and CEO of Touro, and Mark Hasten, L.H.D., chairman of the board of trustees, presided over the conferring of master’s degrees upon approximately 1,120 students from the graduate schools of education, psychology, business, social work, health sciences, technology, and Jewish studies.

The commencement marked the first collective ceremony for all seven graduate schools since they were formally united under the umbrella of the new Division of Graduate Studies, and among the first Touro commencements presided over by Dr. Kadish.

“Today represents a series of firsts for all of us - firsts that are part and parcel of our celebration, though some are bittersweet,” said Dr. Kadish, noting that the current commencement season is the first without founding President Dr. Bernard Lander, “a man who was the essence of our institution – a brilliant and tireless visionary who in the latter half of his life exemplified the fulfillment of the Biblical vision G-d passed on to our forefathers – that of building the world.”

Dr. Kadish also referenced the Jewish intellectual tradition that dates back 2500 years and lies at the foundation of Touro. “Universal literacy and a respect for knowledge were parts of Jewish communities even during the dark ages. Dr. Lander’s vision for Touro College – a view that continues today – is a part of this intellectual tradition,” he said.

In addressing the graduates, their families, and friends, Dr. Kadish underscored Dr. Lander’s and Touro’s emphasis on universal education, “individualized to the needs of different communities.” The president placed special emphasis on combining knowledge with efforts to build a just and moral society. As fresh graduates facing challenges ahead, the president also stressed the importance of remaining hopeful.

“You are graduating at a time of many paradoxes. In some ways we are in a better place than we have ever been. However there are immense challenges,” the president said. “Remain optimistic, for pessimism is not a trait of the American people or of our school.”

The commencement ceremony was dedicated to Dr. Lander, who founded Touro in 1971. He was remembered as a visionary and educator who cared passionately about the success of every individual student. A moving video tribute was also shown.

Rabbi Doniel Lander, son of Dr. Lander, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Ohr Hachaim and chancellor of Touro, said, “My father’s mission was to empower and elevate all students so that they could make a positive impact on society. He was devoted to contributing to the betterment of society. What distinguishes Touro as an institution is the emphasis and focus on the individual student. I salute all of you today.”

Throughout his remarks, Rabbi Lander emphasized the need to remain focused on personalized communication with the individual. He noted that in today’s society personalized contact has become endangered, “...human voice has been replaced by e-mail and personal communication has been substituted with the mass delivery of information.”

Rabbi Lander warned of the dangers of a world that does not value personal communication. He said that his father was, “acutely aware of the dangers implicit in this condition” and told graduates to “communicate, to reinforce and to strengthen an innate sense of morality and ethics.” He advised graduates that, “To be successful, especially in a large urban society, you must focus upon the individual in a personal, direct and caring manner.”

Dr. Anthony J. Polemeni, vice president of the Division of Graduate Studies said, “Unlike at many colleges, where students rarely see the deans, here at Touro we are so fortunate that we truly get to know our students. As new alumni, we hope you never lose that feeling of friendship you developed towards Touro. We wish you tremendous success in your new beginnings.”

One student from each of the seven schools spoke on behalf of their peers. The speakers were: Ira Bedzow, Graduate School of Jewish Studies; Matthew Gartenberg, Graduate School of Business; Leslie Taylon, School of Health Sciences; Sunil Shakya, Graduate School of Technology; Bianca Colon, Graduate School of Social Work; Seth Shapiro, Graduate School of Psychology; and Tracee Murren, Graduate School of Education.

The deans of the individual schools also participated in the ceremonies: Dr. Michael Shmidman, dean, Graduate School of Jewish Studies; Dr. Michael Williams, dean, Graduate School of Business; Dr. Isaac Herskowitz, dean, Graduate School of Technology; Dr. Steven Huberman, dean, Graduate School of Social Work; Dr. Louis Primavera, dean, Graduate School of Psychology and School of Health Sciences; and Dr. Lamar Miller, dean, Graduate School of Education.