A First: Winter and Spring Commencements

Aerial shot of commencement at Prudential Center.

Responding to a record enrollment of 21,000 students, the University held three Commencement ceremonies in 2017, with a record-setting 5,086 graduates earning their degrees this academic year. The winter Commencement, held in January, combined ceremonies for graduate and undergraduate students, and in the spring, graduate students and undergraduate students were conferred in two separate Commencements.

Female student clad in gown sitting in Commencement.

At the May exercises, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka and legendary tap dancer Savion Glover accepted honorary degrees and addressed the students during the ceremony for undergraduates at Prudential Center in Newark, while Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP) President and CEO Carlos Rodriguez received an honorary degree and addressed graduates at The Graduate School Commencement ceremony at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

Procession at Commencement.

In January, longtime Montclair resident and Tony-nominated actor Frankie Faison, whose four decades of stage, film and TV performances included roles in The Silence of the Lambs and HBO’s The Wire, received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree and addressed the graduates at Prudential Center.

President Susan A. Cole greeting student as he crosses stage at Commencement.

“Here, are you – thousands of members of the next class of citizens, prepared by your education to make a meaningful contribution to the hard work it takes to build a peaceful, prosperous and just society,” President Susan A. Cole told graduates. “The work that you have done has been to enable you to become the person you want to be in this world, but only in part. It has also been to enable you to become the kind of citizen that our nation and the world needs.”