Montclair State University graduates will be treated to a trio of distinguished speakers as part of the institution’s new Commencement schedule, which features a pair of events to conclude the 2016-2017 academic year.
Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka and legendary tap dancer Savion Glover will accept honorary degrees and address the graduates during the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony on May 25 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, while Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP) President and CEO Carlos Rodriguez will receive an honorary degree and address graduates during the Graduate School Commencement ceremony on May 22 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.
Ras J. Baraka
Elected in 2014 as the first native-born Newark mayor in half a century, Ras J. Baraka has been a prominent member of the community for nearly three decades. He served as a member of the Newark Municipal Council from 2002 to 2006 and was concurrently appointed deputy mayor in 2002, a position he held until 2005.
As mayor, he has opened nine “Centers of Hope,” which offer city residents a menu of recreational, educational and cultural enrichment programs. Since 2012, Newark has seen an increase in its high school graduation rates. Educated in the Newark Public Schools, Baraka earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Howard University and a master’s degree in education supervision from St. Peter’s University.
“Mayor Baraka has been an articulate advocate for the importance of education and how it can create positive change in our communities,” says Montclair State University President Susan A. Cole. “During his tenure as principal of Newark’s Central High School, his dedication to New Jersey youth led to an increase in test scores and a decrease in gang violence. Since then, as mayor of Newark, he has worked to unify his city by championing initiatives that improve public safety, enhance educational opportunities, and promote the city’s redevelopment. He is an excellent model for our students of public service.”
A native of Newark, New Jersey, who was the youngest person ever to receive a full scholarship to the Newark Community School of the Arts, Glover took his first tap lessons at age 7 and made his Broadway debut at age 10 in the Tony-nominated musical The Tap Dance Kid.
Popularizing a unique style of tap known as “hitting,” Glover became one of the youngest performers nominated for a Tony Award with his performance in Black and Blue at the age of 15. In 1996, he choreographed and starred in the hit musical Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk, for which he won the 1996 Tony Award for Best Choreography.
Between 1990 and 1995, his regular appearances on the iconic PBS show Sesame Street delighted and inspired a generation of young people. Glover has since continued his work with children. His Newark-based HooFerZClub School for Tap has remained committed to ensuring that all students maintain the right to an arts education as a fundamental part of their basic education while passing on the traditions and history of tap dancing.
“Savion Glover has captivated audiences of all ages on both stage and screen for nearly four decades, but it is his work inspiring children that makes him a wonderful example for our graduates,” says Cole. “Regardless of one’s professional discipline, empowering the next generation should be a goal for each of Montclair State University’s students, and Mr. Glover has embodied this commitment throughout his decorated and accomplished career.”
A business leader and philanthropist, Carlos Rodriguez was born in Cuba and immigrated with his parents to the United States when he was a child. He holds a Master of Business Administration degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree in government from Harvard University. He assumed the role of ADP President and CEO in November 2011 and has been named to NJBIZ’s Power 100 every year since 2014.
Rodriguez oversees the ADP Foundation, which has partnered with Montclair State University to create the ADP Center for Learning Technologies, which provides services, training and support, as well as access to state-of-the-art equipment in the College of Education and Human Services.
“Carlos Rodriguez has achieved remarkable success as a first-generation college graduate,” says Cole. “His story is a testament to what students can achieve by pursuing a higher education, and, more than that, it is emblematic of the quality of contributions made by generations of immigrants to this country. ADP has been an excellent corporate citizen and a very strong partner to Montclair State, and we are very pleased to be able to bestow this honor on Mr. Rodriguez.”
For more information on Montclair State University’s May Commencements, visit montclair.edu/commencement.