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VARIED FARE AT 8 COLLEGE COMMENCEMENTS

The U.S. ambassador to Canada, speaking at Niagara University's graduate commencement Saturday, said the bonds between the two neighbors remain strong despite disagreements over this country's war with Iraq.

Ambassador A. Paul Cellucci said the United States and Canada have significant disagreements over trade and environmental issues.

"More recently, we were disappointed when Canada chose not to join the coalition effort that removed the regime of Saddam Hussein," Cellucci said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks.

But Canada "has been solidly with us in the war against terrorism" and has offered aid to help reconstruct Iraq, Cellucci said, and the binational partnership remains close.

About 375 graduate students, and their friends and family, heard Cellucci's keynote address at the ceremony, held outside on a lawn in front of Niagara's Dwyer Arena.

Cellucci and Daniel Patterson, president of Niagara College in Ontario, received honorary doctorates at the ceremony.

In other commencements Saturday:

Alfred State College

About 830 students received four- and two-year degrees at Alfred State's commencement. The ceremony was the 10th and last commencement presided over by President William D. Rezak, who is retiring June 30.

Aminy I. Audi, a State University of New York trustee and partner in the L. & J.G. Stickley furniture manufacturer of Manlius, gave the keynote address.

State Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., also addressed the graduates.

Alfred University

Peter Jenkins, a travel writer and best-selling author, spoke to more than 1,000 graduates, their families and friends at Alfred University's commencement in the McLane Center on campus.

"The greatest times of your life happen in this little valley," Jenkins told the graduates, according to the university. Alfred gave Jenkins an honorary doctorate at the ceremony.

Canisius College

The Canisius College undergraduate commencement had a sports theme this year.

The college's Golden Griffin mascot, who normally prowls the sidelines at Koessler Center basketball games, greeted graduates as they entered the University at Buffalo's Alumni Arena for the ceremony.

And legendary hockey coach Scotty Bowman was one of three recipients of an honorary Canisius degree. Bowman received among the loudest cheers of anyone at the ceremony.

The other two honorary degree recipients were Ramon E. Abarca, a retired Canisius professor of history who was too ill to attend, and Eugene F. Jankowski, former president and chairman of CBS.

Jankowski gave the keynote address, and Sen. Charles E. Schumer also spoke briefly to the approximately 675 newly minted graduates.

Daemen College

At Daemen's 2003 commencement, held in Kleinhans Music Hall, 370 students received their diplomas.

Sister Mary McCarrick, president of the Sisters of St. Francis, Stella Niagara, and a member of the Daemen board of trustees, gave the keynote address. She used examples from the "Lord of the Rings" book trilogy to illustrate her remarks to graduates, according to the college.

D'Youville College

Donald K. Boswell, the keynote speaker at D'Youville's commencement, considers himself lucky to have called Fred Rogers his mentor and friend.

Rogers died earlier this year, but Boswell offered the D'Youville graduates some words of advice from the longtime host of "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood."

"Graduates, Mr. Rogers would want you to know that you are a very special person just as you are," said Boswell, the president and chief executive officer of Western New York Public Broadcasting, WNED.

Boswell and Marilyn Gohr McTaggart, founder and president of the McTaggart Foundation and a noted graphic designer, received honorary degrees at the morning ceremony, held at Kleinhans.

Schumer also spoke briefly.

Fredonia State College

Fredonia State handed out degrees to 1,317 graduates at its annual undergraduate commencement ceremony in Steele Hall on campus. The outgoing class is the largest in the college's 177-year history, according to President Dennis L. Hefner.

Thomas F. Bijou, a Fredonia alumnus and chief executive officer of BHM Associates in Plano, Texas, was the keynote speaker. Bijou was a last-minute replacement for Raymond Lai, director of the Hong Kong airport, who chose not to come because of the SARS crisis.

Jamestown Community College

JCC held two graduation ceremonies -- at its Jamestown and Cattaraugus County campuses -- this weekend.

Joel Klein, a JCC alumnus and the supervising producer on the NBC gross-out television show "Fear Factor," was to give the keynote address at both ceremonies.

The Cattaraugus County commencement was to be held Friday in the Olean High School auditorium, and the Jamestown commencement was to be held Saturday at the Physical Education Complex.

Niagara County Community College

About 300 students attended NCCC's commencement ceremony in the college gymnasium, where they and their guests heard State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-North Tonawanda, give the keynote address.

NCCC's total graduating class this year is more than 800 students, according to the college. In a break with tradition, the college held just one commencement this year.

e-mail: swatson@buffnews.com

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