September 17, 2019 | 59° F

Letter: Peter March


"So, graduates, you should feel proud today, proud of your achievements, but also proud of being part of a venerable institution that is rich in tradition while remaining squarely on the cusp of innovation and discovery."


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Peter March is the executive dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. (Courtesy of Kara Donaldson)


Congratulations School of Arts and Sciences Class of 2017!

It is a privilege for me to welcome you and your families to the School of Arts and Sciences Convocation.

The year 2017 is rather special. This is the year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the School of Arts and Sciences.

It was 2007 when the School began educating its first cohort of students. This was one of the most significant and exciting transformations in this university’s history. Arts and Sciences became the liberal arts school of Rutgers, a globally-engaged teaching and research institution and the center of the undergraduate experience.

Of course, we didn’t just come into existence overnight. We like to think of ourselves as both the oldest and the newest school at Rutgers. For all our cutting-edge scholarship, knowledge, and state-of-the-art facilities, it’s important to remember that our School has deep roots and enduring values that go back to pre-Revolutionary War-era America.

The liberal arts tradition at Rutgers began 251 years ago with the founding of Queen’s College. Those first students studied Latin and Greek, arithmetic and geometry, as well as a bit of physics and astronomy. That 18th-century curriculum reflected an early but essential vision for a classical liberal arts education. And we in the School of Arts and Sciences claim it for our own. The School gives full expression to that vision, providing a diverse and comprehensive education that spans from English to economics, from genetics to geography, and from physics to philosophy.

So, graduates, you should feel proud today, proud of your achievements, but also proud of being part of a venerable institution that is rich in tradition while remaining squarely on the cusp of innovation and discovery.

This reverence for our past and excitement for our future defines who we are at Arts and Sciences. It’s a spirit that informs our recent strategic plan in which we commit ourselves to making the School a place of excellence, opportunity, and leadership.

What does that all mean?

Simply put, it means:

  • Achieving excellence in the School’s departments, programs, and core curriculum.
  • Creating the opportunity for all students to learn and grow in a welcoming and inclusive environment.
  • Providing the intellectual and moral leadership at Rutgers, in New Jersey, and across the nation and global community.

Graduates: This culture of excellence, opportunity and leadership has prepared you well for the world you are about to enter as adults.

For it’s our excellence that has endowed you with the essential knowledge in your chosen field, and with the problem-solving and critical-thinking skills needed for successful and satisfying lives.

And it’s the opportunity here that provided you with the experience of living intimately with diversity—an experience so critical in our world, especially in our current moment. You have gained the essential skills to be role models and forces for the greater good. As you make your way in the world, take that experience of engaging in dialogue with all the different people you have met here. Keep that openness! It’s a part of your Rutgers heritage.

I can’t help but be reminded of what President Obama said last year on this very stage:

America converges here. In so many ways, the history of Rutgers mirrors the evolution of America—the course by which we became bigger, stronger, and richer and more dynamic, and a more inclusive nation.”

And lastly, as soon-to-be alumni of the School of Arts and Sciences, you join a long and proud tradition of graduates providing transformational leadership in their workplaces, communities, and around the world. You are entering a world challenged by issues of health, the environment, and human rights; issues that require innovation, vision, and courage to confront.

Graduates: You have what it takes to not only build successful lives, but to also be a positive force in your communities and to make a difference in the world.

For all of you in the Class of 2017, it’s truly an honor for me to celebrate with you today, to welcome you as Rutgers Alumni, and to usher you into the next phase of your lives as graduates, citizens, and leaders.

Congratulations Class of 2017!

Peter March

Peter March is the executive dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.


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