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RCC Stages Inaugural Gala to Fete President Michael A. Baston's Inauguration

RCC Stages Inaugural Gala to Fete President Michael A. Baston's Inauguration

(l-r) Dr. Michael A. Baston, Dr. Tonjua Williams, NBC 4 New York Anchor Pat Battle, and Actress & Broadway Singer Rita Harvey.

Three-day celebration continues with Inauguration ceremony September 13


DATE: September 12, 2018

Rockland Community College ushered in the era of its seventh President, Dr. Michael A. Baston, tonight with a rousing Inaugural Gala celebrating the theme of Transformation Through Education. A vibrant gathering of more than 250 guests convened at the Hilton Pearl River for the Gala, which served as a prelude to Dr. Baston's Inauguration ceremony Thursday afternoon, September 13, at RCC's Cultural Arts Theater.

RCC's first Gala featured special performances and exhibits highlighting accomplishments throughout the College's 59-year history. One of the special presentations at the Gala was a video tribute, “Student Success Stories,” depicting how RCC student's lives have been transformed by their experiences at the College. Proceeds from the Gala benefit RCC's Student Success Initiative.

Dr. Michael A. Baston & RCC students

“RCC has been a beacon of opportunity to anyone who has the desire to improve their station in life or simply enrich the quality of their life,” said Anne Hummer, Inaugural Gala Chair. “Regardless of educational background, students here can take advantage of a wealth of options to find the path toward career success that is right for them.”

In her keynote address, Dr. Tonjua Williams, President of St. Petersburg (Fla.) College, noted that she shared Dr. Baston's philosophy of opening doors of opportunity and providing appropriate support to help students achieve educational and career fulfillment. Like many of RCC's graduates, she is the first in her family to attend college and earn a degree. Dr. Williams is nationally recognized as an expert in student development and strategic planning intended to transform departments and institutions.

In his inaugural address on Thursday, September 13, Dr. Baston is expected to lay out his vision for RCC, including an emphasis on the Guided Pathways program, which aims to make college more accessible and navigable for students from all backgrounds and levels of preparedness.Dr. Baston with Rita Harvey and Pat Battle

RCC rolled out the red carpet at the Gala with entertainer Rita Harvey, the Broadway singer and actress best known for her starring role in “Phantom of the Opera” and as principal soprano for “Neil Berg's 100 years of Broadway” touring concert; and news broadcaster Pat Battle, co-anchor for NBC-TV 4 New York's “Weekend Today in New York,” who served as master of ceremonies. The popular East Ramapo Marching Band kicked off the evening with its trademark spirited arrangements, and local band Escapade entertained the audience throughout the evening.

Among the select guests in attendance were elected officials including Rockland County Executive Ed Day, Rockland County Legislator Harriet Cornell, New York State Assembly member Ellen Jaffee, and representatives from the offices of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Congresswoman Nita Lowey. Also attending were several presidents from SUNY colleges as well as state and community leaders. Special congratulations were extended by Governor Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer.


The three-day Inaugural celebration got off to an auspicious start earlier today with a faculty symposium at RCC's 500-seat Cultural Arts Theater. The festivities continue with the Inauguration ceremony/reception at 2 p.m. Thursday, also at the Cultural Arts Theater, and culminate Friday, September 14, with a student/alumni social in the College's Cultural Arts Center, Atrium. RCC live-streamed both the Gala and inauguration ceremony. See RCC Gala video and RCC inauguration video.

For more information, contact Anne Hummer at 845-574-4715 or, or visit

See more photos from the gala at RCC Inaugural Gala Photos

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CONTACT: Strategic Marketing