Whoopi Goldberg Honored at Montclair State Commencement

Class of '07 the Largest in University's 99-year History

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MONTCLAIR, NJ - Whoopi Goldberg, acclaimed actress and performer, producer and author, received an honorary degree and addressed Montclair State University's Class of 2007 at their graduation ceremony at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford today.

Goldberg received an honorary Doctor of Letters, one of the six honorary doctorates the University bestowed during a week of convocation ceremonies leading up to graduation day.

This year's graduating class at Montclair State totaled 3,396 students - the largest in the University's 99-year history. The University awarded 2,504 bachelor's degrees, 882 master's degrees and 10 doctoral degrees.

In addition to Goldberg, honorary degrees at graduation ceremonies this year went to:

  • Bobbi Brown, Chief Executive Officer, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics;
  • José L. Fuentes, Judge, Appellate Division, Superior Court of New Jersey;
  • Maxine Greene, educational philosopher and the William F. Russell Professor in the Foundations of Education (emerita) at Columbia University Teachers College;
  • Alan I. Leshner, Chief Executive Officer, American Association for the Advancement of Science and Executive Publisher, Science; and
  • Kevin Ryan, Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Children and Families.

Goldberg is no stranger to Montclair State. Three years ago, she taught an acting Master Class at the University, coaching a group of approximately 25 students. Several of the students appeared on her TV series, Whoopi, as a result.

Her long and varied career has made her one of an elite group of artists who have won the Grammy ("Whoopi Goldberg," 1985), the Academy Award ("Ghost," 1991), the Golden Globe (The Color Purple, 1985 and Ghost, 1991), the Emmy (as host of AMC's "Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel," 2002) and a Tony (Producer of "Thoroughly Modern Millie," 2002).

She is also well known for her humanitarian efforts on behalf of children, the homeless, human rights, education, substance abuse and the battle against AIDS, as well as many other causes and charities. Among her many charitable activities, Whoopi Goldberg is a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations.

In addition to the main graduation ceremony, students also participated in convocation ceremonies presented by the individual schools and colleges that comprise Montclair State. The convocation ceremonies and featured speakers were as follows:

The Graduate School - Thursday, May 10
Jose L. Fuentes, a judge in the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey, was the keynote speaker and received an honorary degree, Doctor of Laws. Originally from Cuba, Judge Fuentes immigrated with his family in 1967 at the age of 11 and settled in Union City, Hudson County. He graduated from Montclair State College in 1978 and from Rutgers Law School in 1982.

College of the Arts - Friday, May 11
Bobbi Brown, CEO of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, was the keynote speaker and received an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters. Brown is a renowned makeup artist whose products are carried by approximately 400 stores and in 20 countries worldwide.

College of Humanities and Social Sciences - Saturday, May 12
Kevin Ryan, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families was the keynote speaker and received an honorary degree, Doctor of Laws. Ryan is the first commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families and serves as a member of Governor Jon S. Corzine's Cabinet.

College of Science and Mathematics - Monday, May 14
Alan I. Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and executive publisher of Science magazine, was the keynote speaker and received an honorary degree, Doctor of Science. The AAAS is the world's largest, multidisciplinary scientific and engineering society.

College of Education and Human Services - Tuesday, May 15
Maxine Green, a professor of philosophy and education and the William F. Russell Professor in the Foundations of Education (emerita) at Teachers College, Columbia University, was the keynote speaker and received an honorary degree, a Doctor of Letters.

School of Business - Wednesday, May 16
Henry Keizer, global managing partner of audit at KPMG and member of the Montclair State University School of Business Advisory Board, was the keynote speaker.

May 18 , 2007