Class of 2011:
I am pleased to inform you that New York State Gov. David A. Paterson will deliver the Commencement address at Paul Smith's College on Sunday,
May 15, at 11 a.m.
Paterson was New York's 55th governor, serving from 2008 to 2010.
He was first elected to public office in 1985, when, at the age of 31, he became a New York State Senator representing Harlem. He was the youngest senator in Albany at the time and ultimately became Senate minority leader. In 2007, he was elected lieutenant governor, and a year later became New York's first black governor.
I anticipate that Gov. Paterson will have some important words to share with us. He has been facing challenges and overcoming obstacles for his entire life-from his childhood all the way to his tenure as governor, when he was thrust into the highest office in one of the nation's largest states at the onset of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
After becoming governor, Paterson was a forceful advocate to balance New York State's budget. He also championed reforms of the Rockefeller Drug Laws, same-sex marriage and basic employment rights for domestic workers.
Gov. Paterson, who is blind, is deeply involved with issues affecting the visually and physically impaired. He is a member of the National Federation of the Blind and serves on the board of the Achilles Track Club, an organization that helps people with disabilities participate in mainstream athletics. He also has served as a member of the Democratic National Committee and as a Chairman of the Coalition of Northeast Governors (CONEG). He earned a bachelor's degree in history from Columbia University and a law degree from Hofstra Law School.
Since leaving office, Paterson has been involved in multiple pursuits: He is lecturing at New York University this semester, and plans to teach there in the fall. He has also taken to the airwaves as a guest host on several talk-radio stations.
I look forward to introducing you to Gov. Paterson and I hope you acknowledge the commitment he is making to honor you on your graduation.
John W. Mills, Ph.D.
President, Paul Smiths College