Board of Governors approves renovations, graduation speaker


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Photo by Conor Alwell |

The Board of Governors announce commencement honorees yesterday at Winants Hall on the College Avenue campus.


The University Board of Governors announced yesterday the new commencement speaker, honorary degree recipients and details of the redevelopment of Tillett Hall on Livingston campus during its monthly meeting at Winants Hall on the College Avenue campus.

Greg Brown, chief executive officer of Motorola Solutions, will be the 2012 speaker for the 246th annual commencement May 13 at the High Point Solutions Stadium on Busch campus, said Ralph Izzo, BOG chair.

Brown will replace Junot Díaz, author and alumnus, as commencement speaker. Díaz canceled his appearance for medical reasons, according to a Media Relations release.

Brown, a University alumnus and member of the University Board of Trustees, served as co-Master of Ceremonies for the University’s “Our Rutgers, Our Future” capital campaign to raise $1 billion, according to the release. He will also receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during commencement.

Other degree honorees include Martina Arroyo and Shireen Lewis. Arroyo, a soprano opera singer, established the Prelude to Performance in New York, which hosts a six-week program for University opera students. Arroyo will receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts.

Alumna Shireen Lewis, another Doctor of Humane Letters recipient, co-founded a nonprofit organization, EduSeed, which promotes education in historically disadvantaged and underserved communities.

In addition to the honorary degree nominees, the Board also named James Katz, chair of the Department of Communication, as the BOG Professor of Communication.

“Katz has been through Rutgers through and through,” said Jorge Schement, dean of the School of Communication and Information.

Katz, an alumnus, is an international expert in the social uses and consequences of information communication technology, Schement said.

Transitioning from academics to facilities, the BOG approved the Tillett Hall renovation project, which will transform the former dining hall into 16 new classrooms and lecture halls.

Tillett Hall will also house a new computer lab and updated mail service area, said Candace Straight, the BOG chair for the Committee on Finance and Facilities.

Tillett Hall was constructed in 1967 as a part of Livingston College. With the expansion of the Livingston Student Center in 2010 and the 2011 construction of Livingston Dining Commons, Tillett Dining Hall closed, leaving the dining hall vacant and available for use, according to a Media Relations release.

The renovation project will create 13 classrooms on the second level and 3 classrooms on the first level. The current 25-person classroom on the main level will be removed to make room for the additional classrooms, according to the release.

The renovation project created by the University Facilities and Capital Planning with the Office of Scheduling and Space Management will create an additional 1,450 classroom seats on Livingston campus, Straight said.

The $13.5 million will be funded through the reallocation of the bonds from other University projects, she said.

Construction is expected to begin in July 2012 and should last 12 months, according to the release.

At the end of the open session, a student raised an issue that the students’ ability to voice their concerns to the committee was strained.

Kristen Clarke, the BOG student representative, suggested the BOG should work with the student governments on the New Brunswick, Camden and Newark campuses and reach out to more students through meetings in a town hall style to remove the disconnect between students and the BOG.

“[Perhaps the BOG could] come to the student government meetings where students are able to get up and ask questions more … creating a dialogue that we all want, and address you guys [the BOG] directly,” said Clarke, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

BOG members agreed they would discuss this suggestion at a later time.


By Anastasia Millicker

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