Presidential Medal recipients (from left) Rev. Richard Rice, Lt. John McLoughlin ’75, Dr. Barbara Palmer Shineman ’65 and SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley.
As Oswego graduates of the class of 2007 moved their tassels from right to left during the first-ever Commencement held in the new Campus Center, the audience of more than 1,400 families and friends also recognized three individuals for their bravery, volunteerism and loyalty to SUNY Oswego.
Rev. Richard Rice, Lt. John McLoughlin ’75 and Dr. Barbara Palmer Shineman ’65 each received a Presidential Medal during Commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 19.
Reading the famous words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., T. E. Lawrence and James Baldwin, Rice reminded the graduates that they are in charge of their own destiny.
“Your lives may not always go as planned and some of you will become disappointed,” he said. “As young adults, you must chart your own course of action.
Rice, retired from Eastman Kodak, became an ordained minister for the Peace Baptist Church in 1994. Active for several decades in civil rights advocacy, he is currently employed by Volunteers of America, a national nonprofit, faith-based organization.
In 1987, Rev. Rice founded the Tom Bell Foundation, through which he works to help combat poverty, drug addiction, homelessness, youth incarceration and other social problems. For nearly two decades, Rev. Rice has been a participant in SUNY Oswego’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration.
John McLoughlin ’75, a retired Port Authority police lieutenant, received a Presidential Medal during the afternoon ceremony.
“Thirty-two years ago when I was sitting out there [graduating] I didn’t expect to return to such an honor,” he told the crowd.
McLoughlin spent 22 hours trapped beneath the rubble of the World Trade Center Sept. 11, 2001. On that day, he was assigned to the bus terminal but headed downtown to put his abilities to use in searching for survivors. His story became the subject of last summer’s hit movie “World Trade Center,” in which he was portrayed by actor Nicolas Cage.
A business administration major at Oswego, McLoughlin worked in banking for five years before joining the PAPD. He had been assigned to the World Trade Center for 12 years, serving during the 1993 bombing of the complex.
Also serving as Master of Ceremonies during the Torchlight dinner and ceremony May 18, McLoughlin shared fond memories and life lessons with the graduates.
“Oswego gave me a lot of opportunities,” he said. “The campus gives you the chance to learn and develop outside of the classroom. To take steps to do things that might not be that comfortable.”
Pointing to a few of his college friends, who joined in the celebration, he said, voice shaking with emotion, “Your friends will be with you until you pass…remember what you did with them. As you go out into the world life hits you fast. Never forget about your families, they are always there for you. Think about family and always put them first.”
Dr. Barbara Palmer Shineman ’65 also addressed the crowd during the afternoon ceremony.
“I am deeply honored by this recognition from you,” she said. “Celebrating the class of 2007, the new Campus Center and an NCAA win, indeed this is a memorable day.”
Shineman has been a loyal member of the SUNY Oswego community for four decades. She earned her bachelor’s, master’s and CAS degrees at Oswego, taught in the Campus School and served as a professor of elementary education. She earned her doctorate at Syracuse University.
She is active in the Emeriti Association and she is also a member of the Oswego College Foundation Board of Directors and Sheldon Legacy Society, and is a generous benefactor to the college, especially funding campus beautification and Penfield Library.
Shineman praised SUNY Oswego for its advancements saying, “The opening of Sheldon Hall for college use for the first time in 20 years is another indication of the ongoing progress on this campus.”
She reminded the students that as graduates they are now a part of the Oswego Alumni Association as they join more than 65,000 other Oswego alumni.
“Treasure your memories about this wonderful college by the lake,” Shineman said.
—Emily King ’05