POTSDAM, N.Y. (WWTI) — The State University at Potsdam will be welcoming a special keynote speaker for its Commencement ceremony in May.

The ceremony will take place at 10:15 a.m. on May 21, and in attendance will be former New York Yankee and award-winning recording artist Bernie Williams. SUNY Potsdam previously honored Williams with an honorary doctorate in recognition of his lifetime achievements in 2019, and now the five-time All-Star and Latin Grammy nominee is set to speak to the graduates of the Class of 2022. 

His visit will start with a special concert on Friday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m. with the Bernie Williams Collective which is being presented by the Community Performance Series. The concert will take place in the Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall at The Crane School of Music. Individuals are encouraged to purchase tickets for the concert online.

Officer-in-Charge Dr. Philip T. Neisser said the university is looking forward to having Williams on its campus.

“On behalf of the SUNY Potsdam community, it is our honor to welcome Bernie Williams for what will undoubtedly be an unforgettable concert and Commencement ceremony,” Neisser said. “We look forward to honoring him and the graduates of the Class of 2022.”

According to the university, Williams discovered his love for both baseball and music while growing up in
Puerto Rico. He excelled in both pursuits by going on to attend the special performance arts school Escuela Libre de Musica at the age of 13 and becoming a standout player on the field.

Bernie was signed by the New York Yankees after high school in 1987. After working his way through the farm system, the switch-hitting Williams made his Major League debut with the Yankees in May 1991. 

In his 16-year career with the New York Yankees, Bernie Williams was a four-time World Series Champion and a five-time All-Star. Additionally, Williams has more post-season RBIs to his credit than any other player in Major League history and also received four Gold Glove awards, six American League pennants, the 1996 ALCS MVP award, and the 1998 American League batting title. 

However, throughout his successful baseball career, Williams continued to exercise his passion for music and released his first album, “The Journey Within” in 2003. He continued on with his musical career after releasing his second album, “Moving Forward” which debuted as Billboard’s No. 2 Contemporary Jazz album in the country.

Williams helped explain the connection he felt to both professions in 2011 when he co-authored a book titled “Rhythms of the Game: The Link Between Music and Athletic Performance,” along with Dave Gluck and Bob Thompson, featuring a foreword by Paul Simon. He went on to complete a Bachelor of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music in 2016.

SUNY Potsdam’s 2022 Commencement ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 21 at 10:15 a.m. in the Academic Quad where hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students walk across the stage to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees. More information about the ceremony and William can be found on the SUNY Potsdam website.