Montclair State Celebrates Constitution Day 2013

Photo: Mike Peters

New U.S. citizens celebrate after taking the Oath of Allegience at the Montclair State University Constitution Day ceremony.

In what has become an annual tradition at Montclair State, members of the University community, government officials, candidates for U.S. citizenship and guests gathered together in the University Hall Conference Center on September 17 to celebrate Citizenship Day and Constitution Day 2013.

Created to commemorate the signing of the Constitution by the Founding Fathers in September 1787, Constitution Day is celebrated on campuses around the country. At Montclair State, the day’s events were organized by the American Democracy Project and featured a swearing-in ceremony for candidates for U.S. citizenship, keynote speakers and panel discussions on immigration and naturalization.

The day’s events kicked off with an opening ceremony that began with a procession led by the Saint Columcille Pipe Band followed by Montclair State University police officers and student veterans who posted the colors. The University Singers, under the direction of Heather J. Buchanan, presented a rousing rendition of the National Anthem followed by words of welcome from Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Willard Gingerich who introduced John E. Thompson, district director for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), who presided over the swearing-in ceremony.

Randi C. Borgen, Newark’s USCIS field office director, led the oath of allegiance for the new citizens. Among the 39 new Americans – who came from 23 different nations – was one of Montclair State’s own: faculty member Susanna Pastorino, who has been teaching Italian at the University since 2006. “I feel so happy,” she enthused after the ceremony. “It was emotional…it was a wonderful ceremony. And especially here, in this place, which is so familiar to me. It was beautiful!”

Following video messages of greeting from President Barack Obama and U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, Montclair State University President Susan A. Cole addressed the new citizens and introduced keynote speaker Paul J. Fishman, United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey. After his address, the opening ceremony concluded with the presentation of Certificates of Citizenship to each of the new U.S. citizens.

Constitution Day continued in the afternoon with two panel discussion sessions. The first, “The Historical and Legal Context of Immigration,” was moderated by Professor of Political Science and Law Brigid Harrison with Associate Professor of History Nancy Carnevale, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Law Ian Drake and attorneys Robert Frank, Esq. and Alan J. Pollack, Esq. of Frank & Pollack, LLC serving as panelists.

“Trading Places, Changing Nations” was the second discussion and featured student panelists Debora Cubias, Melissa Zuniga, Kamila Kolodynska and Jonathan Maiorano with Professor Drake moderating.

Sponsored by the Office of the Provost, Constitution Day was organized by the American Democracy Project steering committee chaired by Professor Jack Baldwin-LeClair, faculty representative to the Montclair State University Board of Trustees and chair of the Department of Political Science and Law.