Chobani Founder & CEO to Speak at 2013 Commencement; Legendary Actress to Receive Honorary Degree

March 14, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Albany & Troy, NY – The Sage Colleges 96th Commencement on Saturday, May 18, 2013 features Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and CEO of Chobani, Inc. makers of Greek yogurt, as well as stage and screen actress Zoe Caldwell. Ulukaya will deliver the commencement address to the graduates in attendance at the ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m. at the Houston Field House in Troy.

Hamdi Ulukaya, Commencement Speaker
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

Chobani Hamdi

Ulukaya was named the Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 Overall Award Winner, the country's most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs, and received the National Entrepreneurial Success of the Year Award for 2012 by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Ulukaya was born and raised in Turkey to a dairy farming and manufacturing family. His personal journey in the dairy industry started in the U.S., where he launched Euphrates, a wholesale producer of authentic feta cheese, in 2002 in a state-of-the-art facility in Johnstown, NY. The company took its name from the Euphrates River that flows near Ulukaya's home in the eastern mountains of Turkey.

After reaching quick success with Euphrates, Ulukaya purchased an abandoned dairy manufacturing facility near Utica in 2005 and spent almost two years perfecting the recipe for a Greek yogurt line and launched a new dairy venture, Chobani, Inc. The first cup of Chobani hit shelves in 2007 and has since become America's #1 selling yogurt brand, growing into a nearly billion dollar company in less than five years.

Chobani, or 'chopani', means 'shepherd' in Mediterranean languages and is a word that holds much meaning for Ulukaya as it's a symbol of giving yet asking nothing in return. This notion of generosity shines true to the brand, as it donates 10 percent of its annual profits through the Shepherd's Gift Foundation, to individuals working for positive, long lasting change.

Ulukaya serves on the Upstate New York Regional Advisory Board for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Pathfinder Village board. He's also an avid supporter of independent films and funds several festivals throughout the year.

Zoe Caldwell
Honorary Doctor of Arts & Letters

Zoe Caldwell was born in Melbourne, Australia and began acting professionally at the age of nine with a role in one of the Lost Boys in “Peter Pan.” She has spent her life telling other people’s stories, to keep audiences entertained. She was one of the original members of Melbourne's Union Theatre Repertory Company (1954-1957) and appeared for two seasons with the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company in productions of "Pericles" and "Much Ado About Nothing." She also toured Russia with the latter company in "Hamlet," "Twelfth Night" and "Romeo and Juliet,” helped establish the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, and served as artistic director at the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Conn.

Caldwell made her Broadway debut in 1965 and has been honored with four Tony Awards for her dynamic performances in “Slapstick Tragedy,” “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” “Medea” and “Master Class.” In addition, she has received Drama Desk and Theatre World awards, and in 1998, she received the John Gielgud Award from the Shakespeare Guild and the Folger Library, as well as the Linda Wilson Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in the Theatre from the University of Florida.

While her career has been mostly on stage, she has appeared in several films, including Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo, as the voice of the Grand Councilwoman in Disney’s Lilo & Stitch, and in the powerful nominee for best picture, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Caldwell is also the author of the autobiography, I Will Be Cleopatra: An Actress’s Journey.

Sage Degrees

A total of 926 degrees earned will be conferred.  

  • Russell Sage College  
    • 216 bachelor's degrees
  • Sage College of Albany
    • 217 bachelor's degrees
    • 1 associate degree  
  • Sage Graduate Schools
    • 429 master's degrees and advanced certificates
    • 47 doctorates in Physical Therapy
    • 11 doctorates in Educational Leadership
    • 5 doctorates in Nursing Education & Leadership