Montclair State University Celebrates Centennial Commencement on May 23

Honorary Degrees to Be Conferred: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Hon. Jon S. Corzine, and Jane Holl Lute '78

Montclair NJ - In September 1908, the New Jersey State Normal School at Montclair opened with eight faculty members and 187 students as a two-year program to train elementary school teachers. Over the next 100 years, Montclair State University would become the fastest growing university in New Jersey with close to 17,000 students, and more than 250 program offerings from the undergraduate to doctoral level. At its Centennial Commencement, which will take place on May 23 at the Izod Center (formerly known as the Continental Airlines Arena) in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Montclair State will grant 3,561 degrees in science and mathematics, humanities and the social sciences, business, the arts, and education. Centennial Commencement speakers and recipients of honorary degrees will include Mikhail Baryshnikov, the Hon. Jon S. Corzine, and Jane Holl Lute.

"The May 23rd Centennial Commencement will mark the fact that the University has granted close to 111,000 degrees over its first century, and 28,000 of those degrees (25%) were granted in the past ten years," comments Montclair State University president Susan A. Cole. "Montclair State University, throughout its history, has remained true to the purpose of educating for democracy, and, as we send our Centennial graduating class into the world, it is with the knowledge that they are prepared for responsible, intelligent, and creative participation in society."

Hon. Jon S. Corzine (honorary Doctor of Laws recipient) was sworn in as New Jersey's 54th Governor on January 17, 2006. For Governor Corzine's biography, click here.

Mikhail Baryshnikov (honorary Doctor of Letters recipient) named by Time as "the greatest living dancer," has pursued his passion for dance for more than 40 years on stages around the globe in a range of disciplines. For Mikhail Baryshnikov's biography, click here.

Jane Holl Lute (honorary Doctor of Laws recipient), a 1978 graduate of Montclair State University, is Assistant Secretary-General for Mission Support in the United Nations' Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

Additional honorary degrees at 2008 graduation and convocation ceremonies will be presented to:

  • Hon. Julio M. Fuentes, first Hispanic American to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit (honorary Doctor of Laws): Convocation ceremony for the Graduate Division is on Wednesday, May 14th at 7 p.m.
  • Bill T. Jones, dancer, choreographer (honorary Doctor of Letters): Convocation ceremony for the College of the Arts is on Thursday, May 15th at 7 p.m.
  • Ronald M. Califre, pharmaceutical industry executive and Montclair State University alumnus (honorary Doctor of Science): Convocation ceremony for the College of Science and Mathematics is on Friday, May 16th at 7 p.m.
  • Amy Mansue, social services and healthcare executive (honorary Doctor of Humane Letters): Convocation ceremony for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences is on Saturday, May 17th at 2 p.m.
  • Frank Alvarez, Superintendent, Montclair Public Schools and Montclair State University alumnus (honorary Doctor of Letters): Convocation ceremony for the College of Education and Human Services is on Sunday, May 18th at 2 p.m.
  • Craig Newmark, founder of, (honorary Doctor of Humane Letters): Convocation ceremony for the School of Business is Monday, May 19th at 7 p.m.

From the Class of 2008

  • The first ever candidates to receive the doctoral degree in environmental management (D.Env.): Victor Udoka Onwueme (degree completed in January 2008), Jennifer Rose Reynard, and Sandow Mark Yidana.
  • Rojita Sharma, 23, a native of Nepal, currently residing in Bloomfield, will receive her degree in biochemistry from the College of Science and Mathematics. Immediately following graduation, she will join the process research laboratory of Merck Research as an associate chemist and plans to attend Rutgers to pursue a Ph.D. in organic chemistry.
  • Ari Frenkel, will receive his degree from the College of the Arts. With Montclair State graduating senior Tim Hackney as his team partner, he won the prestigious 2008 Irene Ryan Awards at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

Interviews with these graduating students and others will be made available upon request.

Released: May 8, 2008