On May 21, Javits Center North was packed with joyful graduates and their families, celebrating the rite of passage of commencement. This year, 4,170 students earned an AAS, BFA, BS, MA, MFA, or MPS degree from among the 48 academic programs offered at FIT. Bedecked in royal blue caps and gowns, the graduates were called to the stage individually to shake President Joyce F. Brown’s hand and receive congratulations on their achievement.
This year’s ceremony, FIT’s 70th, was an important milestone at a college whose history in supporting New York City’s creative industries grows by the day. But, as Governor Andrew Cuomo wrote in a greeting to FIT’s graduates—read by Dr. Giacomo Oliva, vice president for Academic Affairs—commencement is a day for looking to the future, not the past: “More than a triumphant conclusion, today is an exciting beginning.”
The day’s speakers celebrated the unique creativity, diligence, and professionalism of FIT students and urged them to stay true to their passions amid a future of difficulty and distraction.
Actor, author, and entrepreneur Brooke Shields, who delivered the morning address to the School of Art and Design and the School of Graduate Studies, described not only peak moments of her acting and modeling career (of her famous Calvin Klein Jeans advertisements, she said, “We knew we were doing something important,”) but also the droughts. But by working hard when she wasn’t in demand, she wrote several bestselling books and helped create her own successful MAC cosmetics line.
“Success comes in a myriad of packages,” she said. “Don’t ever be fooled that it does not always entail continuous hard work and tireless tenacity.”
In the morning ceremony, bridal guru and TV personality Randy Fenoli, Fashion Design ’93, was honored with the President’s Award for Creative Excellence. He said, “Your life is an open book filled with blank pages, and you hold the pen. You create your life every day by the choices you make. So choose wisely and create the wonderful future that’s ahead of you.”
World-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind was awarded an honorary doctor of fine arts degree. He advised the graduates not to be too goal-oriented in finding success. “I never had any goals; I just had a path,” he said. “If you stick to the path, I am sure you will reach your own goals.”
In the afternoon ceremony, Saks Fifth Avenue president Marc J. Metrick, who addressed the Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology and the School of Liberal Arts, admitted he was jealous of the graduates for entering the industry during a “seismic shift” in the way customers shop.
“We don’t have all the answers and certainly can’t predict the future,” he said. “We need you, the next generation of leaders, to help figure it out.”
Joy Herfel Cronin, Fashion Buying and Merchandising ’86, group president of the Americas, Ralph Lauren Corporation, was honored with the President’s Award for Creative Excellence, for her leadership at Ralph Lauren and on the FIT Foundation, where she has served for three years. President Brown praised her thirst for knowledge, her “unwavering commitment to our students and our mission,” and “a certain humility that credits others for her success.”
Peter G. Scotese, chairman emeritus of the FIT Board of Trustees, was honored with the President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement for decades of generosity and devotion to the college. “Many CEOs give to causes,” President Joyce F. Brown said in a touching tribute. “Pete Scotese gives his heart and himself.”
» Coverage of Brooke Shields’s address also appeared at:
» To view the full commencement ceremony videos, go to fitnyc.edu/commencement