Saturday, May 16 is the Commencement ceremony at Fredonia State University of New York. We, collectively, take great pride in our University and in our graduates, past and present.

Last year, 2014, I had the distinct pleasure of attending my 50th consecutive commencement ceremony at Fredonia. I joined the faculty at Fredonia in 1964, after 13 years as principal in East Aurora. The first several commencements ceremonies... of which I attended... were held in Dods Hall. With increasing graduate numbers, the ceremony was held in the King Concert Hall. Several outdoor ceremony events were planned but because of weather conditions, the ceremony was moved indoors. Again, with the increased number of graduates, commencement was held in the amphitheater at Chautauqua Institution. But, when Steele Hall became a campus reality, the Commencement Ceremony has been held in this magnificent and functionally conducive facility.

Little did I realize back in 1964, that I would have the pleasure of seeing my wife obtain her graduate degree from Fredonia, as well as our daughter with her undergraduate degree, our son with the Advanced Certificate, and our daughter in-law with both an undergraduate and graduate degree. In addition, a number of our nieces, nephews and cousins obtained their degrees from Fredonia. And during the past fifty years, I have had the great satisfaction of seeing hundreds of my students walk across the platform to receive their degree. Indeed, with these past fifty-one years at Fredonia, there has been much for which to be thankful.

Perhaps I can best express my sentiments on this subject, by putting my thoughts in poetic format. Hence, the following.....

by Robert L. Heichberger

It was fifty-one years ago, and still counting...
One-half century of Fredonia State’s history to glean.
When "yours truly" first entered the halls of this College
When Old Main was so much a part of the scene.

Fredonia State has been most highly regarded
As a major part of the University of this State.
It stood for the best in all settings
Excellence in quality was its distinguishing trait.

Today, Fredonia State maintains its luster even more so
Meeting the needs of all students, as its goal.
For excellence in teaching, research, and service
Which stands proudly as the culture of its soul.

Fifty-one years ago, when I first came to these hallways
Its rich variety of programs were rated "the very best".
There was teacher education, the arts, and liberal studies
And new programs were being developed with zest.

As Old Main still stands proudly on its legacy
And the campus saw amazing transformations...
The institution itself moved with creative investment
With academically superior accreditations.

The student body grew in numbers and in majors,
As undergraduate and graduate programs did emerge.
A responsive State University took to heart its cultural mission:
"To teach, to research, and to serve."

Ah yes, The State University of New York at Fredonia is so special
Its place in our heart, it just grew.
Even back then, we were aware that Fredonia is so special.
You see, somehow 51 years ago... we already knew.