For Immediate Release: 5/9/2009 7:00:35 PM
Contact: Benjamin Marvin , (518) 454-5102


The largest graduation in Saint Rose history undoubtedly became its most humorous today when late-night comedian Jimmy Fallon officially joined the class of 2009.

“I’m grateful for how hard Saint Rose taught me to work. Seriously, do you guys know how hard it is to get a degree from this place?” said Fallon, who alternated between the roles of proud graduate, commencement speaker and celebrity-host taping bits for his show, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”

“Finally, I convinced them that I’ve done enough communicating to get my communications degree – and it only took me 17 years do to it. All I can say is, Thank God I didn’t want to be a doctor. That would have taken 65 years.”

With his parents, James and Gloria, and wife, Nancy Juvonen, snapping pictures from the second row at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Fallon joined more than 1,800 students – the College’s largest graduating class ever – who were awarded bachelor’s and master’s degrees and certificates of advanced study.

His remarks continued his hyperbolic, nationally aired running joke about not being able to convince the College to award his communications degree – despite being a star of “Saturday Night Live,” celebrity awards shows and, now, late-night comedy. In fact, Fallon, who was 15 credits short when he left in 1995 as a senior to pursue comedy, was excited to have his portfolio reviewed, and just last month the Communications Department chair agreed that Fallon had fulfilled his degree requirements.

On Saturday, Fallon also earned a doctorate of humane letters, a title he vowed would turn him into a “giant egomaniac.”

“You guys have no idea the absolute monster you’ve created,” he said.

Also earning the honorary degree was prominent pollster and author John Zogby who, like Fallon, presented a vision of the world as wide open to the savvy generation of young people before him. He said they represented the diverse and interconnected segment of society.

“You are the first to wonder: ‘How can we make war against people who have the same fashions, people who listen to the same music and are connected by the networks to you and me,'” he said.

President R. Mark Sullivan praised the students and recognized the work of their parents and Saint Rose faculty in helping them reach their goal. He listed the many things they had achieved along the way, including their hard work and learning Facebook and YouTube.

“This is indeed a momentous occasion," Sullivan said. “Ponder for a moment what you have accomplished over the last few years and how you have grown as a person and as a scholar.”

He noted that Fallon and Zogby each “in their own way epitomize the very best in human nature and the essence of our Saint Rose values.”

John Zogby Speaks to Graduates

Zogby, whose wife, Kathleen, and sister, Selwa Stemmer, each graduated from Saint Rose, sprinted onto the national political stage after correctly calling the unlikely victory of George Pataki over Gov. Mario Cuomo. He has continued to poll with remarkable precision in national races, while remaining in his hometown, Utica, N.Y.

The son of Lebanese immigrants, Zogby also maintains an intense interest in the patterns of social behavior. Last year, he put his polling expertise to work with "The Way We’ll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream" (Random House, 2008). In it he discusses the 18- to 29-year-olds, whom he terms “New Globalists” who have already led the way in their grasp of their global, over national, ties. He said his data reflect a segment of society likely to not only travel but eventually live overseas. New Globalists, Zogby found, favor the United Nations, immigration, and policies that will reduce carbon emissions.

Fallon appeared alternatively humbled, amused and downright irreverent toward the fanfare. As President Sullivan offered some remarks, Fallon, who was seated behind him, took out a piece of paper and pretended to take notes. He encouraged classmates to switch seats if they didn’t like the person next to them. When Fallon marched to the stage with “his” class, he melted into a front row of his fellow ’09 graduates.

Fallon launched his remarks – “What’s up Golden Knights!” – to immediate applause and then painted a picture of college life familiar to anyone who followed his “Saturday Night Live” career or reviews his bits on YouTube.

“I lived in Lima Hall, and I was a computer science major. I wanted to be a programmer," he said. “Which was totally ridiculous when you think about it, because for one thing I knew nothing about computers, and for another thing it was 1992, so there were like five computers on the whole campus and they were the size of refrigerators.”

Fallon, one of the older members of his class, talked about life in the real world, including his own failures. After getting his break and finally landing an audition on "Saturday Night Live," he blew it. He slept on couches and ate noodles. And then came a second chance, which launched him to heights of comedy on "SNL." Next, movies beckoned and, he said, more failure.

“As long as you keep doing what you really love doing, you're going to be fine. Stuff is always going to happen that sets you back. There's always going to be someone out there like that movie critic, who doesn't believe in you or who thinks your head is too big or you're not smart enough or whatever. But those are the people you need to ignore, and those are the times you need to just keep doing what you love doing. Because it doesn't matter what anybody else thinks: it only matters what I think. I'm kidding. It only matters what YOU think.”

Fallon also distinguished himself as among the more successful multi-taskers. By the end of the ceremony, Fallon had graduated, delivered a commencement address, taped material for his show, talked to classmates and several reporters and sent a Tweet of his diploma to his nearly 1 million followers on Twitter, all before the last Saint Rose graduate had even crossed the stage. Within hours, his commencement was national news, with coverage splashed from the Washington Post to “Entertainment Tonight.” By then he was en route to his “SNL” appearance tonight.

While enjoying the entertainment, the students knew the day belonged to them. Jasmine Roberts, who earned her bachelor of science degree in communication sciences and disorders, thought “he was funny but the big news for me today is I earned my B.S!” Roberts added that Fallon's advice about not giving up was useful.

For Asja Culpepper, who completed her master’s degree, Zogby’s words about globalism hit home. Draped over the shoulder of her academic robe was a piece of Kente cloth from Ghana, where she had studied as an undergraduate.

“I have roots from all over the world,” Culpepper said. “That was me he was talking about.”


The College of Saint Rose ( is a private, independent, coeducational, liberal arts college in Albany founded in 1920 by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet, Albany Province. The College offers 60 undergraduate and 43 graduate programs at its Albany campus and conducts courses in Brooklyn, Bronxville, Oceanside, Glens Falls and Herkimer. Currently, Saint Rose serves more than 5,000 students.

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