College Meets Reality

Reality television stars and accidental farmers present a unique Commencement Address Debate

Reality television stars and accidental farmers, brand-building entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and community activists, Dr. Brent Ridge and Mr. Joshua Kilmer-Purcell, widely known as The Fabulous Beekman Boys, will present an unconventional Commencement Address Debate at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Cobleskill on Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. In a war of wisdom, Dr. Ridge and Mr. Kilmer-Purcell will compete with each other to determine who can best advise graduates on “The Reality of Life after College.”

A first for SUNY Cobleskill, this great debate will challenge Dr. Ridge and Mr. Kilmer-Purcell to provide the best guidance for the people, selected by the people. Both gentlemen will answer each question with the hope that their counsel is deemed most valuable by the audience. Dr. Debra H. Thatcher, Acting President of SUNY Cobleskill, will moderate the debate. Upon its conclusion, graduates and guests will vote to select the winner.

In recognition and high praise for their significant achievements, Dr. Ridge and Mr. Kilmer-Purcell will be awarded Honorary Doctorates at the ceremony by the SUNY Board of Trustees. Dr. Ridge played a leading role in the development and funding of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine’s Acute Care for the Elderly, – now known as the Martha Stewart Center for Living. His entrepreneurial skills, medical skills and compassionate nature impact the local and regional community in the very best of ways. Mr. Kilmer Purcell’s story-telling prowess explores universal themes of love, loyalty, emotional honesty, and pursuit of dreams while his cookbooks promote a lifestyle of understanding and respecting the foods we consume. Both gentlemen have used their successful business ventures to fund philanthropic ventures in rural New York State, including the “Mortgage Lifter” program that supports creative projects designed by local farmers to enhance farming operations.

With an emphasis on experiential education, SUNY Cobleskill prepares students for successful careers, advanced studies, and engaged citizenship. SUNY Cobleskill is an accredited, baccalaureate, residential college, with a rich academic tradition that spans nearly 100 years. Today, more than 2,500 students are enrolled in the 52 baccalaureate and associate degree programs offered through two schools – The School of Agriculture and Natural Resources and The School of Business and Liberal Arts & Sciences. Students live and learn on a modern, 902-acre campus that features outstanding educational facilities, including a contiguous farm with an equestrian center and 200-cow dairy facility, cold and warm water fish hatcheries, specialized classrooms and laboratories, two state-of-the-art culinary arts teaching kitchens, a student-run restaurant, child development and child care centers, and an art gallery.