Montclair State Celebrates Constitution Day 2011

Photo: Mike Peters

New U.S. citizens help celebrate Constitution Day at Montclair State University.

Hundreds of members of the Montclair State University community, government officials, guests, and neighbors from surrounding communities joined together on September 27 to celebrate Constitution Day 2011.

Created to commemorate the signing of the Constitution by the Founding Fathers in September 1787, Constitution Day is celebrated on many campuses around the country. At Montclair State, the day’s events are sponsored and organized by the American Democracy Project.

Constitution Day featured a swearing-in ceremony for candidates for U.S. citizenship, a panel discussion of deans and faculty, and a talk by Eric Greitens, a humanitarian and author. The day concluded with a student leader panel where students discussed the impact of the Constitution on their lives and celebrated the 224th anniversary of its signing.

An opening ceremony held in the University Hall Conference Center kicked off the day’s events. Following a procession of Montclair State University police officers and yellow-ribbon veterans, a Posting of the Colors ceremony, and remarks from Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Willard Gingerich, John Thompson, district director for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, led 52 candidates in the Oath of Allegiance, the final step on their path to U.S. citizenship.

President Susan A. Cole and United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey Paul J. Fishman also spoke before the 52 new citizens were introduced and received their New Citizen Certificates to the cheers of the nearly 300 people in attendance, including more than 100 fifth grade students from Bradford School and Northeast School in Montclair. The uplifting event closed with remarks from Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life Karen L. Pennington. (Photos from the ceremony are available for viewing and downloading at

The afternoon session of Constitution Day began with a dean and faculty panel discussion on the relevance of the Constitution in today’s world. The participants were School of Business Dean E. LaBrent Chrite; Professor Dorothy Rogers of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; Ronald Sharps, associate dean of the College of the Arts; and Michael Weinstein, director, PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies of the College of Science and Mathematics.

Moderated by Professor of Political Science and Law Brigid Harrison, the discussion focused on the relevance of the Constitution to issues of health, women and the Equal Rights Amendment, the environment, sustainability, the economy and the debt ceiling, freedom of speech and expression of the arts.

Following the panel discussion, humanitarian, and former Rhodes Scholar and Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, delivered the keynote address to an attentive and appreciative audience in the Alexander Kasser Theater. He spoke about his service organization, The Mission Continues, which uses civilian service as a mechanism to help wounded and disabled veterans reintegrate into their communities, and about his life and new book, The Heart and The Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian and Making of a Navy SEAL.

Greitens was introduced by General Carl Mundy Jr. (Ret), former Commandant, the United States Marine Corps and his talk clearly resonated with the audience, many of whom were military veterans themselves. Greitens stayed on after his presentation to talk with members of the audience and to sign copies of his book.

Constitution Day concluded with a student leader panel discussion of the topics that were discussed earlier in the day by the dean and faculty panel. Moderated by Dean of Students Rose Mary Howell, the discussion was informed and lively as the students shared comments and were very engaged in the discussion about the relevance of the constitution in their lives today.

See more photos from the day’s events.

Read coverage of the Oath of Allegiance ceremony in:

The Star-Ledger
Montclair Patch