March 25, 2019 | 50° F

Rutgers-Newark announces commencement speaker for 2019


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Photo by Wikimedia |

 Dorothy Roberts, an interdisciplinary scholar and social justice advocate, said she was excited to come back to Rutgers-Newark to deliver the keynote address, especially since she began her academic career at Rutgers Law School. 


Last Tuesday, the Rutgers University Board of Governors confirmed that Dorothy Roberts, who is a scholar and advocate for social justice, will be delivering the keynote address at the Rutgers—Newark Commencement Ceremony, which will take place on May 22 at the Prudential Center this year, according to the Rutgers—Newark website.

“Roberts is one of the nation’s leading voices striving to expunge deeply-embedded discriminatory ideas and practices from the American social fabric, embodying principles that Rutgers University—Newark holds most dear as an institution that is not just diverse, but committed to leveraging our diversity as a partner in lifting up our community, our nation and our world, especially by lifting up its people," said Nancy Cantor, the chancellor of Rutgers—Newark.

At the commencement, jazz musician and Newark native Wayne Shorter will also be receiving an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree. Cantor said after his training at Newark Arts High School, he became “recognized globally as one of the great musicians of our time,” and considering his multiple Grammy Awards, was also “an inspiration to people around the world, especially here in his hometown of Newark.” 

As for Roberts, her work has appeared on television, radio shows and a TED Talk that garnered more than a million views. She uses her work to cast a light on discriminatory assumptions and actions made by people while advocating for a world where those from all different backgrounds and abilities are considered equal.

After receiving her undergraduate degree from Yale University and attending law school at Harvard University, Roberts went on to work in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York. She then went on to work for a limited liability partnership, and later joined Rutgers Law School as a faculty member in 1988. While working at Rutgers—Newark, she published an acclaimed article on the reproductive rights of black women in the Harvard Law Review in 1991, which was under the editorial leadership of former President Barack Obama.

She also worked as a faculty member for Northwestern University and is currently working as the director of the Penn Program on Race, Science and Society at the University of Pennsylvania.

Roberts said she was excited to return to Rutgers—Newark to give the address, especially to students who also share her commitment to activism.

“I am extremely grateful to Rutgers University for selecting me to serve as its 2019 commencement speaker and to receive an honorary degree,” she said. “I began my academic career at Rutgers Law School in Newark in 1988, and I will always be indebted to this institution for providing such an inspiring and supportive environment to launch my teaching, research and advocacy for social justice. It is a unique honor to be recognized by this great University I once called home.” 


Catherine Nguyen

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