Aquadro, Clark, Torrey to Speak at 2016 Commencement

St. Lawrence University’s Commencement will take place at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 22, on Creasy Commencement Common, or in Appleton Arena in the event of inclement weather.

Students, faculty, staff and guests will hear remarks from the three honorary degree recipients: Congresswoman Katherine Clark ’85, a former state senator, state representative, general counsel of the Massachusetts Office of Child Care Services, and policy chief for the state attorney general; William “Bill” Torrey ’57, retired President/General Manager of both the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers; and, Charles “Chip” Aquadro ’75, professor of population genetics and director of Cornell University’s Center for Comparative and Population Genomics. John Gaal, retiring legal counsel for St. Lawrence University, will receive the 2016 University Citation.

Charles Chip” Aquadro ’75

Charles “Chip” Aquadro is a professor of population genetics at Cornell University’s Department of Molecular Biology with a joint appointment to the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He also serves as Charles A. Alexander Professor of Biological Sciences and Director of the Cornell Center for Comparative and Population Genomics.

Aquadro’s teaching of undergraduate and graduate courses cover the concepts and methodologies of population genetics and comparative genomics as well as personal genomics and medicine. His research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. As a founding member of the Cornell Genomics Initiative in 1997, Aquadro has chaired both the Evolutionary Genomics and the Computational and Statistical Genomics focus groups.

Aquadro has served as scientific advisor to science television, including NOVA, WGBH and the Discovery Channel as well as the PBS television series “Evolution” (1998-2001). He has also served as associate editor for the academic journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, on the editorial board for Genome Research and on review panels for numerous NIH proposals.

Katherine Clark ’85

U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark has served the Fifth Congressional District of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since she was first elected in a December 2013 special election. Prior to holding Congressional office, she served as state senator, state representative, general counsel for the Massachusetts Office of Child Care Services and policy chief for the state attorney general.

Clark currently serves on the U.S. House Committee on Education and Workforce and the Committee on Science, Space and Technology. As a member of the House Democratic Caucus, she serves as a senior whip and is a member of the Steering and Policy Committee. Clark also is a member of several caucuses in Congress, including the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Women’s Caucus.

Clark’s career in public service has been driven by her commitment to helping children and families succeed. She is a vocal advocate for ending wage discrimination, protecting women’s health care, providing access to affordable, high-quality child care, paid family leave, safer schools, and other reforms that address the challenges women and families face. She is a strong proponent in the belief that Congress must work to end the glaring disconnect between the needs of families at home and the priorities in Washington, D.C.

William Bill” Torrey 57

William “Bill” Torrey retired from a career in sports management that spanned over 50 years.  He built the New York Islanders from a National Hockey League expansion team during the 1972-73 season to Stanley Cup champions in just eight seasons. Under Torrey’s charge, the Islanders made five consecutive trips to the Stanley Cup Finals, winning four Cups in a row in 1980, 1981, 1982 and 1983. The club also had 14 consecutive winning seasons, from 1975 to 1988, and Torrey drafted six future Hall of Fame players as well as one future Hall of Fame head coach.

In 1993, Torrey was named President of the Florida Panthers, another NHL expansion team. He again built up the team and set an NHL record for first-year teams by winning 33 games and collecting 83 points. In just three years, the Panthers went to the Stanley Cup Finals, the fastest an NHL expansion team ever reached the playoff finals. Torrey retired in 2001 but remains a special adviser to the Panther’s current general manager, and an alternate governor for the team with the NHL’s Board of Governors.

In 1983, he received the NHL’s Lester Patrick Award for outstanding service to the hockey community, and in 1995, he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

John Gaal

For more than 30 years, John Gaal, of the Syracuse, New York, law firm Bond, Schoneck and King, has advised and represented St. Lawrence University in union contract negotiations, employee discipline and termination, student discipline, discrimination and harassment policies (including Title IX) and governance, among other areas of expertise. 

St. Lawrence University was Gaal’s first client when he joined BSK more than 30 years ago. His outstanding reputation in the legal community has earned him a place on several national ranking lists and inspires invitations to speak at state and national legal seminars.

Gaal retired from active client representation on Dec. 31, 2015, in order to serve as the attorney for his firm and serve as corporate counsel for BSK. 

St. Lawrence will recognize Gaal’s service to the University with a University Citation, which are offered occasionally to individuals who provide extraordinary service to the University.

For more information, visit the Commencement website.