Honorary Degree Recipient

Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver

Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver will deliver the keynote address and receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree during the University’s Undergraduate Commencement ceremony to be held on Friday, May 25, at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

“Sheila Oliver has dedicated herself to public service throughout her career,” says Montclair State University President Susan A. Cole. “A longtime member of the New Jersey General Assembly, she made history when she became only the second woman to serve as its speaker and just the second African-American woman in the nation to lead a legislative house.”


A Newark, New Jersey, native, Oliver earned a Master of Science degree in Community Organization, Planning and Administration from Columbia University after graduating from Lincoln University. She began her career working in the Newark Mayor’s Office of Employment and Training as Director of the Office of Youth Services and Special Projects. She later served as Director of the Essex County Division of Community Action, a federal anti-poverty initiative.

In 2003, Oliver was elected to represent District 34 – which includes East Orange, Orange, Montclair and Clifton – in the New Jersey General Assembly and was unanimously elected as its Speaker by Assembly Democrats in 2010. A staunch advocate for social justice and educational opportunity, she chaired the General Assembly’s Human Services Committee and served on its Joint Committee on the Public Schools, its Committee on Public Schools, and its Economic Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity Committee.

After being selected by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy to be his running mate, Oliver was sworn in as New Jersey’s Lieutenant Governor on January 16, 2018.

Now an East Orange resident, Oliver is a long-term supporter of community-based, non-profit organizations, serving on the boards of groups that include the East Orange General Hospital; the Newark Coalition for Neighborhoods; the East Orange Board of Education; and the Global Women’s Leadership Collaborative of NJ. She also has been an active member of the Women’s Political Caucus of New Jersey and Women in Government.