Montclair State University conferred bachelor’s degrees in science and mathematics, humanities and the social sciences, business, the arts and education to students who completed their degree requirements in spring 2017 at its Undergraduate Commencement exercises on Thursday, May 25 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Montclair State University President Susan A. Cole presided over the exercises and the Honorable Ras J. Baraka, Mayor of Newark, and celebrated tap dancer, choreographer and teacher Savion Glover received honorary doctorates and addressed the graduates.
Elected in 2014, Ras Baraka became the 40th mayor of Newark after serving nearly three decades in the city as a politician, educator, poet and author. Known for his progressive approach and commitment to public safety, he created the city’s first-ever Police Civilian Complaint Review Board and unified the police and fire departments under a single Department of Public Safety. He has garnered numerous accolades, including being named “Most Valuable Mayor” by The Nation in 2015, and cited in Ebony magazine’s “Power 100.”
“You have made it to the beginning of a long…journey,” Baraka said to the graduates. “The road will be tough but the victory at the end will be great.” Stressing the importance of each graduate and the degree they received, he said, “Let the world know you were here – there are millions of people around the world awaiting your arrival.”
Legendary tap dancer and choreographer Savion Glover made
his Broadway debut as a 10-year-old in the Tony-nominated musical The Tap Dance Kid. Since then, he has
continued to perform and choreograph for stage and screen, along the way
earning a Tony nomination for choreography for Shuffle Along and the Tony Award for Bring in ’Da Noise, Bring in ’Da Funk. Credited with popularizing
the unique style of tap known as “hitting,” Glover has made significant and
lasting contributions to tap.
Glover expressed his gratitude to the University for the honorary degree and to his family, teachers and mentors for their help and support throughout his career. To the students, he said, “I encourage you to stay ferocious in your approach to success…I encourage you to establish relationships…I encourage you to live and be accountable. Live [life] to the fullest and have fun!”
The May 25 Undergraduate Commencement ceremony was preceded by the Graduate School Commencement on May 22 and a January 23 Commencement ceremony for all students who graduated in August 2016 and January 2017. This new, three-ceremony format was instituted to meet both the wishes of the student body and the needs of a record enrollment of 21,000 students.
Watch the full 2017 Undergraduate Commencement ceremony on YouTube.