Cazenovia College to give honorary degree to Ukrainian leader


CAZENOVIA — Cazenovia College is joining a growing group of colleges in New York and other states who are presenting honorary degrees to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The College Board of Trustees and Cazenovia’s faculty affirmed the decision to award a doctor of humane letters degree (honoris causa) to the Ukrainian president. The degree will be awarded to Zelenskyy in absentia as part of the College’s 197th Commencement ceremony, which is scheduled for Saturday, May 14. 

College President Dr. David Bergh noted, “The awarding of this degree offers us an opportunity to make a clear statement of support for what President Zelenskyy is fighting for. They are values dear to us as an institution of higher learning and include our belief in the concept of sovereignty, support of human rights, and the need to defend free and open discourse.”

The College’s faculty, staff and students have also showed support for the country and its citizens through a recent cultural education and fundraising event. The evening featured a performance by the ODESA Ukrainian Dance Ensemble of Syracuse, a presentation about the Ukrainian country and culture, and news updates regarding the Russian invasion. More than $5,000 was raised for humanitarian aid at the event. The funds came from the sale of beaded bracelets made by students; the sale of baked goods donated by local shops; and raffles of gift certificates contributed by several local businesses. Students also organized a sidewalk chalking event and a display of Ukrainian flags.

Alfred University President Mark Zupan is credited with originating the idea to award Zelenskyy an honorary degree and with circulating the idea to neighboring western New York colleges. In addition to Cazenovia College and Alfred, other schools who have been announced to date as awarding Zelenskyy with an honorary degree are Adrian College, Alvernia University, Bard College, Canisius College, Chatham University, Gratz College, Hilbert College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Keuka College, Lenoir-Rhyne University, LeMoyne College, Manor College, Rochester Institute of Technology, Shenandoah University, Sienna Heights University, Utica University, Virginia Wesleyan University, and York College.


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