Celebrating the History-making SAS Class of 2011

By Richard L. McCormick, President and Dean Douglas Greenberg
As submitted; published in the Daily Targum on April 25, 2011

The School of Arts and Sciences Class of 2011 has always been a history-making group. On the first day of September in 2007, you gathered in Rutgers Stadium for the inaugural New Brunswick-wide new student convocation. A few days later, you became the first class to enroll in our First-Year Seminar program. Between then and now, your class has participated in undergraduate research more extensively than any previous class, and more of you than ever before have pursued prestigious fellowships. Throughout the past four years, you have been at the vanguard of our transformation of the undergraduate experience at Rutgers. Now, as the first full graduating class of the School of Arts and Sciences, you will help us launch a new tradition: the first truly universitywide University Commencement.

On Sunday, May 15, we will return to Rutgers Stadium, where your class began its college career, to confer the more than 12,000 undergraduate and graduate degrees that have been earned by Rutgers students this year.

As your family, friends, faculty, and fellow graduates take seats at the stadium, the stadium’s Jumbotron will display graduate photos we have been receiving via the commencement Facebook page, and you’ll see a great new video that celebrates the student experience. Each of your names will appear on the stadium-wrapping ribbon scoreboard. We will also take time in the commencement ceremony to speak about the accomplishments of the SAS Class of 2011 and recognize all those who are graduating with honors by asking them to stand and be applauded by the entire university community. The brilliant author Toni Morrison will deliver the commencement speech and receive one of three honorary degrees to be awarded that day.

The culmination of the one-hour ceremony will be the conferring of degrees, which will begin with the calling of the schools in chronological order of their founding. No doubt, the roar from the graduating class and your family and friends will be thunderous as you, the 4,500 members of the SAS Class of 2011, are announced last.

Another feature of our new commencement tradition is the extensive series of departmental receptions at which your professors will honor your accomplishments more personally and individually than University Commencement will allow. Some of these ceremonies have already occurred, while others are coming soon or will take place immediately following University Commencement.

We are excited about the launching of a great new Rutgers tradition, and about the opportunity to salute your many achievements over the past four years. While we acknowledge that changes to past graduation traditions have caused disappointment among some students and their families, we believe commencement will be a very memorable, inspiring, and exhilarating day for your class, your families, and the entire Rutgers community. We thank you for your hard work in and outside the classroom and the leadership you have shown as you have participated in the life of the campus. We eagerly await the opportunity to applaud all that you have achieved at Rutgers and to send you forth with pride and jubilation.