SUNY Downstate Celebrates Class of 2019 at Carnegie Hall

May 22, 2019

More than 600 graduates embark on their healthcare careers, united by mission to advance patient care and medical sciences

Click here to view photos and a video montage of the ceremonies

 SUNY Downstate Medical Center today celebrated more than 600 graduates from its College of Medicine, School of Graduate Studies, School of Public Health, College of Nursing, and the College for Health-Related Professions, and honored several leaders in academia, medicine, and research at its 2019 Commencement at Carnegie Hall. 

This year’s commencement ceremonies marked a number of great achievements. The Class of 2019 represents one of the most diverse student bodies in the institution’s history with more than 58.17 percent of its 649 graduates coming from communities of color – 12.03 percent identify as Hispanic, 22.46 percent as African-American, 23.68 percent as Asian-American/Pacific Islander. 

“After years of training and serving patients in our most diverse community with unique health challenges, this graduating class is poised to go out and serve communities with the mission of keeping patients and families healthy and safe,” said SUNY Downstate president Wayne J. Riley, M.D. “This generation of doctors, nurses, and medical professionals are driven to do more than that just provide care for the ill, but they also stand ready to shape the future of healthcare.”

Former New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Mary T. Bassett, M.D., MPH delivered the commencement address for the College of Medicine, School of Graduate Studies, and School of Public Health, where she also received an honorary doctorate from SUNY Downstate for her tremendous work on behalf of New York City’s vulnerable populations. 

In a separate ceremony, SUNY Downstate alumna Dr. Babette Seligmann Sanders delivered the commencement address for Downstate’s College of Nursing and the College of Health-Related Professions, also at Carnegie Hall. Dr. Sanders received the Ailanthus Award, SUNY Downstate’s highest campus honor for her service to the discipline of Physical Therapy. 

Additional recipients of honorary degrees:

  • Dr. Gerald Whitehead Deas, former Director of Health Education Communications and Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at SUNY Downstate, for his career to advocating for public health in disadvantaged communities; 
  • Dr. Arthur Kaufman, Vice Chancellor for Community Health at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, for creating innovative care-models to address community, indigent, rural, and population health needs; 
  • Dr. Joel Levine, Chair Emeritus of the Board of Regents of the American College of Physicians, for his role in getting colorectal cancer screening authorized as a Medicare benefit;

Of the 649 conferred degrees, 150 graduates earned their Bachelor of Science degrees, with the remaining 499 earning advanced degrees in nursing, medicine, physical therapy, and applied sciences.

The College of Medicine conferred 201 Medical Doctorate, M.D. degrees; the School of Graduate Studies conferred 14 Doctor of Philosophy degrees; the School of Public Health conferred 16 Advanced certificates in Public Health degrees; 50 Master of Public Health degrees; and 3 Doctor of Public Health degrees. The College of Nursing conferred 127 Bachelor of Science degrees; 86 Master of Science degrees; and 11 Advanced Certificate degrees, and the College of Health-Related Profession conferred 23 Bachelor of Science degrees; 104 Master of Science degrees, and 27 Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees. 


About SUNY Downstate Medical Center

SUNY Downstate Medical Center is the borough’s only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care, and is a 376-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. University Hospital is Downstate’s teaching hospital, backed by the expertise of an outstanding medical school and the research facilities of a world-class academic center. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

A regional center for cardiac care, neonatal and high-risk infant services, pediatric dialysis, and transplantation, Downstate also houses a major learning center for children with physical ailments or neurological disorders. In addition to University Hospital, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Health-Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit