By Phil Corso
This year’s 52nd Queensborough Community College commencement ceremony was a last hurrah for more than 2,000 graduates, but also a new beginning for its first female president.
Just minutes before their tassels were turned and caps were hurled into the air, the QCC community welcomed Dr. Diane B. Call as the college’s fifth president in her inauguration ceremony.
“My years at Queensborough have been extraordinarily blessed,” Call said. “The list of those who have inspired me along my journey is long and I am deeply grateful to them all.”
Call was named interim president of the college in 2010 after decades of service in other academic and administrative positions there. Her role as president went into effect Jan. 28.
She was all smiles as she formally accepted her new role at last Friday’s commencement in the company of hundreds of co-workers and friends who have known her for so long.
“As you embark on your own journeys,” Call told the sea of students, “remember where you came from and where you want to go.”
The college community gathered underneath a gigantic white tent on its athletic fields for the ceremony, packed with a star-studded cast of school administrators and Queens elected officials, including state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) and state Assembly members Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside), David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) and Nily Rozic (D-Flushing).
Allan Dobrin, executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer of the City University of New York, helped install Call as the college’s new president in the ceremony.
Borough President Helen Marshall gave a lengthy address in which she thanked Call for her years of service and collaboration with city government to bring dynamic programming and opportunities to the school.
“Dr. Call, your vision and innovative style have created a school that is already a leader in collaborative programs that focus on a student-centered learning environment,” Marshall said. “Your partnership with student affairs, which implemented Queensborough’s innovative freshman academies is now a model throughout the country.”
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) gave his signature graduation speech, urging the class of 2013 to “go for it” as they progress through their professional, post-grad lives. In his address, the senator plugged legislation of his that bulks up college tuition tax credits by $2,500 for middle-class families.
“Today, a college education is incredibly valuable, but also incredibly expensive, and these savings are needed now more than ever,” Schumer said of the American Opportunity Tax Credit. “This tax credit provides real relief for middle-class families by taking one dollar off their taxes for every dollar spent on college tuition — up to $2,500”
President’s awards for outstanding achievement went to graduates Liang Lin, Paula Villacres, Kenny Cheng and Jennifer Lagasse. The John F. Kennedy Memorial Award went to Jace Dunn for leadership and the Martin Luther King Jr. Award went to Jemima Matiminu for exceptional leadership in promoting racial harmony and appreciation of cultural diversity.
The college also welcomed the class of 1963 — its second graduating class 50 years ago — as distinguished guests at the commencement.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.