HAMBURG, N.Y. - Sister Edmunette Paczesny, FSSJ, Ph.D. will be the commencement speaker at Hilbert College's 58th annual commencement ceremony planned for 1 p.m. on May 11 at the Watermark Wesleyan Church at 4999 McKinley Parkway. Sister Edmunette, President Emerita at Hilbert, will also be recognized at Hilbert's commencement with an honorary doctorate of humane letters. In addition, Hilbert will present the Hilbert College Medal to Father Michael Sajda, O.F.M. Conv.
Sister Edmunette Paczesny, FSSJ served as Hilbert College President for 31 years. At the time of her retirement, in 2006, she was one of the longest serving college presidents in the country. As the second president in Hilbert's history, Sister Edmunette was at the helm when the college made an unprecedented move from a two- to a four-year institution.
Significant capital improvements are one of the hallmarks of Sister Edmunette's tenure. A $2.8 million apartment-style student housing complex opened, an expansion of Hilbert's athletic facility was completed, and construction was completed on Franciscan Hall, the 20,000-square foot $3-million facility that became the face of Hilbert's campus. The construction of Franciscan Hall also led to the creation of the College's ring road and the main campus quad.
Sister Edmunette remains tremendously popular with students and alumni throughout her association with Hilbert, which started in 1962 when she was named an instructor of psychology and philosophy. Sister Edmunette received a doctorate degree in educational administration and supervision and a master's degree in education from Fordham University, as well as a bachelor's degree from Marquette University.
The Hilbert College Medal represents those "who embody Franciscan values, demonstrate excellence in their profession or career, and excellence in community service." This Medal is also one of the College's highest honors. Father Michael Sajda, O.F.M. Conv. is currently president of St. Francis High School and chair of the Hilbert College Board of Trustees. He served as Interim President at Hilbert from September 2018 to December 2018.
Father Michael stepped down from the board during his interim tenure and returned to the role of board chair upon the appointment of Hilbert's fourth president, Dr. Michael Brophy, in January 2019. Father Michael's interim leadership provided continuity and a positive outlook for the Hilbert community.
In addition, the President's Medal will be awarded to two members of the Hilbert community, Dr. Amy Smith and Anthony Wiertel. The President's Medal, one of Hilbert College's highest honors, recognizes faculty, staff, and members of board of trustees for extraordinary commitment and service to higher education, and for exemplifying Franciscan values. Dr. Smith has worked at Hilbert since 1996. She is a professor in the English Department, the director of the Honors Program, and currently serves as secretary of the Faculty Senate. Wiertel has worked at Hilbert for 38 years. He is the Assistant Vice President of Business/Finance and currently serves as chairperson of Staff Senate.
Hilbert President Michael S. Brophy Ph.D., will confer bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees, as well as associate in applied science and associate in arts degrees to Class of 2019. In addition, President Brophy will confer master of science and master of public administration degrees to Hilbert's seventh class of graduate students. Baccalaureate graduates will receive degrees in accounting, business management, computer security and information assurance, criminal justice, cybersecurity, digital media and communication, English, forensic science/crime scene investigation, human services, legal studies, liberal studies, political science, psychology, and sports industry management.
Kristina Lantzky-Eaton, Ph.D., Hilbert provost and vice president for academic affairs, will be the master of ceremonies.
A reception for graduates, guests, and others in attendance will be hosted by President Brophy in the Watermark Wesleyan Church atrium immediately following the commencement program.