SUNY Downstate News Releases - 05-19-2020

MEDIA CONTACT: John Gillespie | | (314) 708-9090

SUNY Downstate Celebrates Class of 2020 on May 20, 2020 with Virtual Commencement

Brooklyn, N.Y. (May 19, 2020) - SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University will celebrate the achievements of 700 graduates of the College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the School of Public Health, the School of Health Professions, and the School of Graduate Studies. This commencement will also honor leaders in academia, medicine, and research at its first-ever University-wide Virtual Commencement.

What: SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University Virtual Commencement

 When: Wednesday, May 20, 2020, at 3:00 PM

 Where: Downstate TV (Downstate YouTube Channel)

With the continuing concern about the spread of COVID-19, and New York state still ‘on pause’ and practicing social distancing, the Virtual Commencement will substitute for Downstate’s traditional commencement ceremonies at Carnegie Hall.

New York State Department of Health Commissioner Howard, Zucker, M.D., J.D., will deliver the commencement address. Dr. Zucker was appointed by Governor Cuomo in 2015 and has led the State’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Honorary degrees will be conferred to:

The Honorable H. Carl McCall, M.Div, D.D., D.H.L, Doctor of Humane Letters
Chairman McCall is Chairman Emeritus of the State University of New York Board of Trustees, where he served as a Trustee for 12 years and Chair from 2011-2019.

Daisy Cruz-Richman, Ph.D., R.N., Doctor of Science
Dr. Cruz-Richman is Dean Emeritus of the College of Nursing and led efforts to strengthen the criteria for nursing education nationally.

Eli A. Friedman, M.D, MACP, Doctor of Science
Dr. Friedman is a 1957 graduate of the SUNY Downstate College of Medicine. He led a successful effort in 1972 to ensure that Medicaid would cover all patients requiring dialysis. He also invented the portable “Suitcase Kidney,” a dialysis machine in 1976.

John Ruffin, PhD., Doctor of Science
Dr. Ruffin joined the National Institutes of Health in 1990 as Director of the Office of Minority Programs is the Founding Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD).


About SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is the borough’s only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care, and is a 342-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of New York City, and Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) 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 UHB, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health 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 or follow us on Twitter at @sunydownstate.