President W. Hubert Keen presided over his final commencement at Farmingdale State College on Saturday, May 21. He gave the keynote address to an audience of 1,400 degree recipients and their families, along with college faculty and staff.
Commencement exercises were held in Nold Hall. Two separate ceremonies – at 10 a.m. and at 3 p.m. - were held to accommodate the number of graduates. A live video stream was broadcast for the two ceremonies to accommodate the growing international student population whose families were not able to attend in person.
Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Foundation and former state legislator, received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for his many contributions to the growth of the campus.
Dr. Keen steps down next month after more than nine years as president of SUNY’s largest school of technology. President Keen led the college through a period of phenomenal enrollment growth, expansion of academic programs, a nearly $200 million campus construction and renovation project and increased faculty hiring.
Dr. Keen became the 8th president of Farmingdale State College in January 2007, having served for two years as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Farmingdale. From 1999 to 2005 he was Special Assistant to the System Provost in the State University of New York central offices where he was responsible for System-wide initiatives in the areas of teacher education and University collaboration with the state’s K-12 schools.
In 1976, at the beginning of his forty-year career, Dr. Keen began as an Assistant Professor of Biological Science at SUNY Cortland.
His teaching and research areas are in ecology, environmental science, aquatic biology
and biostatistics. His research has been supported by grants from the National Science
Foundation, the SUNY Research Foundation, the University of Virginia’s Biological
Station Research Program and other agencies, and has yielded over twenty refereed
research papers. He is the author of several short biographies of prominent figures
in science, technology and education as well as articles on various topics in higher
Dr. Keen was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship, a US Public Health Service Fellowship, and a Fellowship from During Dr. Keen’s tenure:
- Total enrollment has increased 31% percent to 8,474 and full-time enrollment has increased from 4,020 to 6,287.
- The incoming GPA for high school student increased from 86.6 to 88.2.
- Farmingdale will begin offering its first Master’s degree program, in the School of Engineering Technology next year, and has added new programs in Applied Mathematics, Sport Management, Medical Technology, Horticulture Technology Management, Applied Economics and Software Technology.
- New construction has included a Campus Center, School of Business, and Child Care Center while major renovations include a biology/visual communications building, a Dental Hygiene Care Center, an Applied Math Center, an expanded library, and refurbished athletic facilities. A major campus beautification project continues to be implemented.
- The number of full-time faculty increased from 153 to 211, beginning with President Keen’s tenure as Provost in 2005.
- In the ten year period beginning in 2003, Farmingdale’s external grant funding has more than tripled to $4,588,000.
- Total philanthropic funding has increased steadily, roughly doubling in the past eight years, including a $1 million gift from alumnae Theresa Patnode Santmann in 2011—the largest donation in the College’s history.
- Farmingdale students have won five Fulbright scholarships—among the most prestigious awards in academia—over the last five years, among the most in all of SUNY.
Among the hallmarks of Dr. Keen’s presidency are the “Students First” initiative, which streamlined administrative procedures to better serve students, and “Farmingdale Forward,” which created a vision for the continued progress of the campus. He also developed a Green Campus initiative which included the construction of the first solar carport/charging station in SUNY, the installation of wind turbines as part of a research demonstration project, the construction of the first Smart Energy House in SUNY and Farmingdale’s participation in a $12 million Smart Grid research project designed to create energy efficiency among businesses along the Route 110 corridor.
Dr. Keen succeeded Dr. Jonathan C. Gilbralter, who served from 2001-06. Previous administrators to lead Farmingdale either as presidents or directors were Albert A. Johnson (1913-23); Garland A. Bricker (1923); Halsey B. Knapp (1923-56); William A. Medesy (1957-60); Dr. Charles W. Laffin, Jr. (1961-76); and Dr. Frank A. Cipriani and (1978-1999).
Awards and recognition during Dr. Keen’s term as President have included:
- NCAA Gender Equity Award for Athletics (2009). Only one of 50 such awards given nationwide, based on the proportion of female student-athletes relative to the number of female students.
- Graduate Earning Power from Payscale.com (2010). The potential earning power of Farmingdale State graduates was one of the highest in the nation among public colleges and universities. The College was ranked 88th in the survey was only one of four SUNY institutions to place in the top 100,
- Named 2nd safest campus in U.S. Daily Beast in 2009 and ranked 5th in 2010; methodology based on federal crime statistics, student population, off-campus incidents, and other factors.
- Cited for Diversity and Retention (2009) by US News & World Report. Farmingdale ranked 10th in racial diversity among BA colleges in the North and 23rd in freshman retention.
- Farmingdale Named Top College for Greatest Lifetime Return on Investment for its graduates (2013) by AffordableCollegesOnline.org. Farmingdale ranked 30th out of 472 New York State Colleges (5th among all SUNY institutions).
- Farmingdale was the only Long Island college—and the only college in the entire SUNY system—recognized by US News & World Report in 2013 for Least Student Debt upon graduation in an analysis of regional colleges in the North (debt load calculated at $17,825).