Montclair State University Confers Degrees to Class of 2013 - Largest in University History

Award-winning Actress S. Epatha Merkerson Delivers Keynote Address

Release Date: May 24, 2013

Montclair State University held its 2013 Commencement exercises at the Izod Center on Friday, May 24. In a ceremony presided over by Montclair State President Susan A. Cole, the University conferred 4,320 degrees in science and mathematics, humanities and social sciences, business, the arts and education to baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degree candidates.

The Class of 2013, which is the largest in University history, includes 3,273 undergraduates and 1,047 graduate students.

Award-winning actress S. Epatha Merkerson delivered the Commencement address and received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree.

Merkerson has received three NAACP Image Awards for her 16-year role as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on the hit television series Law & Order. She won both Emmy and Golden Globe awards for her work in the 2005 HBO film Lackawanna Blues.
A noted stage actress, she was nominated for the Tony Award for Come Back, Little Sheba in 2008 and The Piano Lesson in 2001. She has appeared in such feature films as Lincoln and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and directed the 2012 documentary The Contradictions of Fair Hope about the Fair Hope Benevolent Society. A committed advocate for lung cancer prevention, Merkerson works with children to foster awareness about the dangers of smoking.

After receiving an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University, Merkerson urged the members of the Class of 2013 to "keep your eyes open--don't miss a thing. You are at a moment of endless possibilities in your life."

In her remarks, Cole said, “the story of today’s Commencement is the realization of the extraordinary growth of Montclair State University over recent years. Today’s 4,320 baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degree recipients represent a 100 percent increase over the 15 years of my presidency. In and of itself, the size and consistency of this increase is a remarkable achievement for the University and for its superb faculty, but its real importance is in the graduates themselves, well-prepared to exercise leadership, creativity and innovation in the sciences, health professions, business, government, public service, the arts and education. These graduates are our endowment gift to the state and the nation.”

Racquel E. Foster, a resident of Springfield, N.J., spoke on behalf of the 2013 senior class. Foster, who received a bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting, plans to pursue a career with a major broadcasting network. Foster has already secured a position as a news assistant with a major broadcasting network in New York City.

Mame Kani Diop, who was the graduate student speaker, received a master’s degree in Family and Child Studies and has been accepted into Montclair State’s PhD program in Family Studies. Diop has worked in the mental health field by providing support and managing cases of survivors of torture and has been a Counselor in the African Enrichment Center in Jersey City. Born in Senegal, she wrote and published a book entitled Eye on Africa designed to inform and dissolve misconceptions regarding African cultures.

Pre-commencement Convocation ceremonies were held from May 19 to May 21 to celebrate students’ individual achievements within the University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Science and Mathematics, College of Education and Human Services, College of the Arts, School of Business and Graduate School.

See Commencement Photos in our Flickr Gallery.