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Hundreds of Dowling grads get e-diplomas from company

Lynne Viccaro O'Leary, of East Northport, shows the

Lynne Viccaro O'Leary, of East Northport, shows the Dowling College e-diploma she received on Monday, Aug., 8, 2016. O'Leary was photographed at her workplace in Hauppauge. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Hundreds of Dowling College’s May graduates found a surprise in their inboxes Monday morning: e-diplomas, thanks to the firm that is contracted to print the paper copies.

Because the college had not yet paid for the Class of 2016’s printed diplomas, Michael Sutter Co. issued the digital documents free of charge, account executive Brad Allen said. The firm has printed Dowling diplomas since 2003.

The Utah-based firm cooperated with Dowling President Albert Inserra to deliver the documents to student email addresses that the college had on file, Allen said. A total of 534 students graduated on May 21, according to information Dowling gave Newsday at the time.

“We’ve had a lot of students who called, and a lot were genuinely frustrated,” Allen said.

By midafternoon Monday, the situation shifted.

Chad Shandler, an official with the Oakdale-based college — which has $54 million in long-term debt and is winding down its operations — said the school had paid the firm with a check sent via Federal Express.

Allen confirmed that the check had been received and said it would be deposited Monday, with diplomas to be mailed out this week. Neither the college nor Allen would provide the amount the college paid.

Michael Sutter, which serves colleges nationwide, sent the digital diplomas to nearly 400 graduates Monday morning. Addresses for at least 35 students were not included in the original list that Dowling provided, Allen said.

While the e-diplomas cannot be printed out, they are legally valid in their digital form, he said.

The firm usually charges a $5 fee for each digital document, Allen said, so the donation came at a cost of about $2,000.

Dowling in July sent the company exact payment for outstanding invoices for diplomas of the school’s December graduates, the account executive said. The school ordered diplomas in June for spring graduation, but there was an outstanding invoice, Allen said.

Lynne Viccaro O’Leary, 46, who received a master’s degree in management and leadership, received her e-diploma Monday morning, but she said some students still were waiting.

“Sad situation all around for what was once a solid college here on Long Island,” O’Leary said.

Monday morning, Allen had alerted students to the e-diplomas via the Dowling LOSER Club, a repurposed Facebook page where students air grievances and post updates.

Richard Montchal, 22, of Central Islip, who regularly posts to the group, had been wondering for weeks when he would receive his diploma. At a transfer fair for students last week, he asked Inserra about it and the president told him Dowling had not paid for the Class of 2016’s diplomas.

Monday afternoon, Montchal said he’s happy with the outcome.

“It took way too long,” he said, “but nevertheless, this is what we wanted.”


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