2006 Brooklyn College Commencement
to Honor Alumni in the Arts, June 1
Members of the College's Fiftieth Anniversary
Class don golden robes, sit in the front rows, and are an integral
part of each year's Commencement ceremonies.
Brooklyn College will celebrate its longstanding commitment to the performing
arts by honoring outstanding musicians and theater professionals at its
eighty-first Commencement Exercises on Thursday, June 1, at 10:30 a.m.
on the campus Quadrangle. The honorees include musicians Randy
Weston and Arturo O’Farrill (class of
1996); theater producer Woodie King, Jr. (MFA, class
of 1999); and Symphony Space founder Isaiah Sheffer (class
Mr. Sheffer will deliver the Commencement address to 3,005 graduates
and receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Brooklyn
College President Christoph M. Kimmich for his contributions to theater
and music and his vision in creating Symphony Space. Famed jazz composer,
pianist, and bandleader Randy Weston will also receive an honorary Doctor
of Music degree for his outstanding and expansive career in modern American
Kimmich will preside over the ceremony as the College celebrates the
achievements its graduating class—1,777 undergraduates and 1,238
graduate students. The festivities will be held outdoors, rain or shine,
and the event will be simulcast on the Brooklyn College Web site at www.brooklyn.cuny.edu.
Alumni honors will be presented to the following three distinguished
• Richard Frankel (class of 1968), producer of
celebrated Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, including Penn & Teller,
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Little Shop of Horrors,
Smokey Joe’s Café, Hairspray, and The Producers;
• Woodie King, Jr., founder of the New Federal
Theatre, which has produced more than 150 shows, including for colored
girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, What the Wine
Sellers Buy, Reggae, and The Taking of Miss Janie; and
• Arturo O'Farrill, virtuoso pianist, composer,
arranger, bandleader, and director of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Afro-Latin
Jazz Orchestra, which has toured internationally.
Presidential medals will be awarded to Ella Friedman Weiss (class
of 1962), president of the Brooklyn Arts Council, and Michael
A. Weiss (class of 1961), director of the MetroTech Business
Improvement District. Both are being honored for their accomplished careers
as tireless advocates for public education, community revitalization,
economic development, and cultural and performing arts in Brooklyn.
Addressing the graduates will be Michael B. McGee, representing
the class of 2006, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in
political science. In the fall, he will enter the graduate program in
African Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, on
a full fellowship. McGee is a member of the CUNY Honors College, the Golden
Key International Honour Society, the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship,
the Honors Academy Research Colloquium, and the CUNY Pipeline program.
Outside the classroom, McGee is a member of the Varsity basketball team,
has been named a CUNY scholar athlete and is a member of student government.
Student Stephanie Rosario will lead the recitation of
the Ephebic oath, the ancient Athenian pledge of citizenship that will
close the ceremonies. Rosario majored in political science and is a member
of the Honors Academy, Puerto Rican Alliance, NYPIRG, and the Mellon Mays
Undergraduate Fellowship. She interned with New York City Councilmember
Leroy Comrie and New York State Assemblymen Matthew Mirones and Feliz
Ortiz. Her goal is to earn her Ph.D. in political science and to work
with a local community board or organization.
Among this year’s other notable students are the following:
Natalia Rowe, a member of the Honors Academy, came to
Brooklyn College four years ago from Russia. She visited the College,
and, impressed with the program she saw, left her family and friends in
Russia, enrolled at the College, and will receive her Bachelor of Arts
degree in speech pathology. In her spare time she is an accomplished ballroom
dancer and recently won first place at the Northeast Regionals Qualifier
for the 2006 USA Dance National Championships. She will attend graduate
school at Columbia University in the fall to study speech pathology.
David Betesh majored in Judaic studies and is also a
member of the Honors Academy. He worked with the Judaic Studies Department
on the Sephardic Pizmonim Project and the Web site about the project,
which is dedicated to presenting and disseminating old pizmonim (songs)
that have no recordings. Betesh was also a peer tutor and, as the eldest
of four children, is a role model to his brothers and sister. He plans
to study to become a dentist after graduation.