Rutgers names commencement speakers for all three campuses

There will be a total of five commencement speakers across all three University campuses in New Jersey. Each speaker will be awarded an honorary degree.
Photo by The Daily TargumThere will be a total of five commencement speakers across all three University campuses in New Jersey. Each speaker will be awarded an honorary degree.

Rutgers has named its 2020 commencement speakers for all three University campuses this week.

Lester Holt, an award-winning journalist and NBC Nightly News anchor, has been selected to give the address at the Rutgers University—New Brunswick 254th anniversary commencement of the University, according to a University press release. 

The Rutgers Board of Governors also voted on Tuesday to award Holt with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree upon his address to the graduates on May 17, according to the release.

“Holt said he is ‘incredibly honored’ for the opportunity to speak to Class of 2020 students at a University with as strong a reputation and long a history as Rutgers,” according to the release.

He has reported on breaking news events across the world, according to the release. Holt was also selected to moderate the first debate in 2016 for the presidential election, which ended up being the most-watched debate in United States history.

Holt will take a brief break from his coverage of the 2020 election to speak at the commencement, and expects to address online communications during critical times and their impacts on journalism, according to the release.

“As so many of us assume the role of ‘citizen journalists’ via social media, we have to assume the responsibility that comes with it,” he said, according to the release.

Sandy J. Stewart, a biotechnology entrepreneur and former chair of the Rutgers Board of Trustees and Board of Governors, was also voted to receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the ceremony, according to the release.

Angela “Angie” Martinez was selected to deliver the commencement address at Rutgers University—Newark on May 20, according to another University press release. She is a media personality, recording artist, author and philantropist.

A committee of students, faculty and staff has also selected Martinez to receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree, according to the release.

Martinez has previously collaborated with students on the Newark campus to aid in recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

“Martinez not only traveled with our students to install the ‘solar suitcases’ in Puerto Rico,” Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Rutgers (University)—Newark, said, according to the release. “But she created and released a documentary film about this initiative titled ‘Be the Light,’ which has garnered thousands of views, including a mechanism for viewers to donate to continue this kind of work. Ms. Martinez knows our students, loves our students and inspires — and is inspired by — our students. She is an ideal commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient from Rutgers (University)—Newark."

Rutgers University—Camden will have three speakers at its commencement ceremonies on May 20 and May 21, according to another University press release. The speakers include Nikole Hannah-Jones, architect and lead author of The New York Times’ 1619 Project, American Bar Association President Judy Perry Martinez and Judith Persichilli, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health.

Hannah-Jones will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree at the College of Arts and Sciences ceremony on Camden campus, Martinez will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the Rutgers Law School ceremony and Persichilli will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree at the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden, according to the release.

“Rutgers (University)—Camden is proud to present honorary degrees to three prominent advocates for equality during commencement this year,” said Phoebe Haddon, chancellor of Rutgers University—Camden, according to the release.