CDPHP CEO John Bennett to deliver 2014 commencement address at Sage

May 16, 2014 at 12:28 pm

ALBANY & TROY, NY – The Sage Colleges is pleased to announce that Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan (CDPHP) President and CEO John D. Bennett, MD, FACC, FACP, will deliver the 97th commencement address on Saturday, May 17. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. at the Houston Field House on the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute campus in Troy.

Dr. Bennett was named president and CEO of CDPHP in 2008 after serving as chairman of the CDPHP board since September 2003, vice chairman since 1999, and board member since 1996. John D. Bennett

Before joining CDPHP, Dr. Bennett served as CEO of Prime Care Physicians, PLLC. During his tenure there, he practiced cardiology with Albany Associates in Cardiology.  He also chaired the department of medicine at Albany Memorial Hospital and served as their chief of the division of cardiology. Dr. Bennett was also a member of Northeast Health Systems’ board of directors.

Dr. Bennett is board certified by the National Board of Medical Examiners and the American Board of Internal Medicine, with subspecialties in internal medicine and cardiology. He earned his medical degree at SUNY-Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, and a Bachelor of Science degree at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Dr. Bennett completed an internship and residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in cardiovascular disease at Albany Medical Center. He is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American College of Physicians.

Dr. Bennett is chair of the board of directors for the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Healthcare Information Xchange of New York (Hixny). He also serves on the boards of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, America’s Health Insurance Plans, Colonie Senior Service Centers, the American Red Cross of Northeastern New York, the Center for Economic Growth, New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC), and the Palace Theatre.

Here are a few interesting facts that you may not know about Dr. Bennett. His wife Deborah is a graduate of Russell Sage College. Before pursuing an education in health care, Dr. Bennett studied chemical engineering at RPI and he is a Civil War history enthusiast with a great admiration for Abraham Lincoln.

Honorary Degree Recipient

Sage will also award Chester “Chet” J. Opalka an honorary degree at this year’s ceremony. Opalka is a former trustee of The Sage Colleges and donor to the Opalka Gallery on the Sage College of Albany campus which is named in his family’s honor.Chet Opalka

Opalka is a co-founder of Albany Molecular Research, Inc. (AMRI), a full service chemistry services provider to the life sciences industry. The company, founded in 1991, is based in Albany, NY.  He retired from the company in September 2000.  Prior to founding AMRI, Opalka worked for 20 years at Sterling Drug Inc. in various capacities in the Discovery and Process Development Departments.  He holds nearly 30 patents and has co-authored several scientific publications reporting his work in organic chemistry.  One invention led to the marketed product, Inocor, the first of a novel class of drug used in the treatment of congestive heart failure.  Opalka received his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Niagara University.

Since his retirement, Opalka has become very active in the local business and philanthropic communities, where arts and education have been the main focus.  He has served on the Boards of the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, The Sage Colleges, The Freddie Institute and Northeast Health. Opalka is an advisor to and supporter of the Albany Symphony Orchestra, Capital Repertory Theatre, The Community Foundation of the Greater Capital Region, Proctors Theater and the Sand Lake Center for the Arts.  He was a charter member of the Tech Valley Angel Network which, recently morphed into the Eastern New York Angels.  As an angel investor, he serves in various advisory roles at numerous local early stage companies.

Opalka, and his wife, Karen, a retired elementary school teacher, have always recognized the pricelessness of a quality education; a cornerstone and enabler for children to become successful in life.  Together they support scholarships at The Sage Colleges and College of St. Rose as well as The Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar and other regional education initiatives.  Most notably, they provided the gift which enabled the Opalka Gallery at Sage College of Albany to become a reality.  In 2003 they joined a group of like-minded individuals and founded The Global Child ( an entrepreneurial school for street working children in Siem Reap, Cambodia. 

Sage Degrees

A total of 837 degrees will be conferred, including bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as post-baccalaureate and post master’s certificates. This includes students who completed their requirements in August and December 2013 and May of 2014.

Russell Sage College

200 bachelor’s degrees

Sage College of Albany

184 bachelor’s degrees

Sage Graduate Schools

401 master’s degrees and advanced certificates

36 doctorates in Physical Therapy

10 doctorates in Education

6 doctorates in Nursing

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Read unique stories about our graduates here.

Media Contact: Deanna Cohen, director of external relations, The Sage Colleges
                          (518) 244-4593 (O), (518) 598-4927 (C), email:

Interdisciplinary academics, community engagement, international exposure, and artistic and athletic endeavors are among the pillars of the educational experience at The Sage Colleges. Sage enrolls more than 3,000 students in bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs at the coeducational undergraduate Sage College of Albany in Albany, N.Y.; the undergraduate Russell Sage College for women in Troy, N.Y.; and the graduate-level Esteves School of Education, School of Health Sciences and School of Management, with programs on both campuses.