Hail and Farewell to Rutgers University-Newark’s Class of 2017

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This month will again bring a round of commencement ceremonies to the city as Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N) sends more than 3,200 graduates out into the world in a series of ceremonies.

At its 9 a.m. main ceremony on May 17, the university will recognize two exceptional individuals, Eboo Patel and Arthur James Hicks, with honorary degrees at the Prudential Center, 25 Lafayette Ave., Newark.

Patel, chief executive officer of the Interfaith Youth Core (IYC), will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, while Hicks, program director of the National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP), will be given an Honorary Doctor of Science. Patel also will deliver RU-N’s main commencement address.

The joint commencement ceremony on May 17 is for about 2,300 graduates of RU-N’s College of Arts & Sciences, University College, Graduate School, School of Public Affairs and Administration, and the School of Criminal Justice, as well as Rutgers Business School undergraduates.

Rutgers Law School students will receive their degrees on Friday, May 26, at 10 a.m., in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, 1 Center St., Newark.  The Honorable Patty Shwartz, judge of the United States Court of Appeals and a Rutgers University alumna, will deliver the address to some 200 graduates.

A separate hooding ceremony for the Rutgers University-Newark Graduate School is May 16 at 3 p.m., in the Paul Robeson Campus Center, for students receiving master and doctoral degrees. Dr. Mary Rizzo will address the graduates and their families.

Steve Forbes will deliver the main address to nearly 800 students receiving advanced degrees through the Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick. Forbes is chair and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media. This ceremony is May 19 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, at 4 p.m.



Eboo Patel

As founder and director of IYC, Patel leads a global network that promotes a critical mass of interfaith leaders across higher education to change public discourse about religion from one of inevitable conflict to one of cooperation, and partners with college campuses to build successful models of interfaith support and collaboration. As noted in the nomination for Patel, “[he] is one of the most influential people in the world working in the arena of promoting intercultural understanding. President Obama appointed him to help create the White House Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, which is now active at more than 250 colleges and universities nationwide with a total of more than 50,000 people involved in interfaith service and engagement programs.”

Patel received his doctoral degree from the University of Oxford and his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of four books, including his popular autobiography, Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation (Beacon Press, 2007).


Arthur James Hicks

Hicks will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science degree for his endless collaborative efforts with LSAMP, the United States Congress, and more than 600 colleges, universities, and partner alliances to strengthen the quality and quantity of underrepresented minority students who graduate with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Hicks has served as program director of the award-winning diversity program for 19 of its 25 years of existence. Formerly known as the Alliance for Minority Participation, shortly following his appointment as program director in 1997, Hicks renamed the program in honor of former Congressman Louis Stokes.

Hicks is an alumnus of Tougaloo College, where he received his bachelor’s degree in biology with high honors. He taught high school science before participating in National Science Foundation traineeships, first at Southern Illinois University in 1961 and later at Temple University. He entered the doctoral program at University of Illinois, Urbana in 1965, where he earned his doctorate in botany, and received postdoctoral training at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri.