Rider Announces Honorary Degree Recipients for Commencement 2013

John H. Martinson, Dr. George A. Pruitt and Paul Plishka will receive honorary degrees at Commencement.
Thursday, May 2, 2013

During its 148th Commencement ceremonies on the Lawrenceville campus, Rider University will proudly bestow honorary degrees upon John H. Martinson, founder of the philanthropic Martinson Family Foundation; and Dr. George A. Pruitt, president of Thomas Edison State College in Trenton. Martinson will receive the honorary Doctor of Laws at Rider’s Undergraduate Commencement on Friday, May 17, while Pruitt will be presented the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the University’s Graduate and College of Continuing Studies ceremony on Thursday, May 16.

Also on Friday, May 17, acclaimed Metropolitan Opera star Paul Plishka will receive the honorary Doctor of Music at the 84th Commencement exercises for the Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton. Plishka will also deliver the Commencement address.

John H. Martinson
Doctor of Laws
Undergraduate Commencement
Friday, May 17

Rider, which has been celebrating the 100th anniversary of its School of Education throughout the 2012-13 academic year, is proud to honor John H. Martinson for supporting the development of curricula, the improvement of instructional methods and the enhancement of professional development for K-12 teachers in the critical STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. The MFF currently funds and guides more than 15 dedicated programs at major universities, including multiple grants to programs at Rider.

MFF and Rider have been partners since 2003, when the foundation began funding teacher training programs at the University’s Science Education and Literacy Center (SELECT) and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Center for Science Teaching and Learning. That support has continued with funding of multiple phases of the CONNECT-ED (CONsortium for New Explorations in Coherent Teacher EDucation) program and other STEM programs.

Dr. George A. Pruitt
Doctor of Humane Letters
Graduate and College of Continuing Studies Commencement
Thursday, May 16

Rider is also proud to honor Dr. George A. Pruitt, who has led New Jersey’s only college exclusively for adults since 1982. During his tenure, TESC continued to serve as a national leader in the assessment of adult and experiential learning and in using technology to deliver innovative higher education programs to adults where they live or work.

Pruitt has been highly valued as a consultant to business and government, as well as within the higher education community. He has served in an advisory capacity to four Secretaries of Education under three United States presidents of both parties, and remains active in the formulation of educational policy nationally and within New Jersey.

Prior to his presidency at TESC, Pruitt served in executive leadership positions at Illinois State University, Towson State University, Morgan State University, Tennessee State University and the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL). He has been the recipient of four honorary degrees, as well as numerous awards, honors and commendations. In a study of presidential leadership funded by the Exxon Education Foundation, Pruitt was identified as one of the most effective college presidents in the United States.

Paul Plishka
Doctor of Music
Westminster Choir College Commencement
Friday, May 17

Paul Plishka’s extraordinary voice and impeccable artistry combine to make him one of the world’s foremost singers, praised by critics for his smooth, beautifully produced bass and polished dramatic skills. A distinguished American artist, he has become one of the most widely acclaimed and sought-after singers of our time.

After making his formal debut with the Metropolitan Opera in 1967 as the Monk in La Gioconda, he became one of the company’s leading basses. He retired from the Metropolitan Opera in 2012 after 46 years and 1,642 performances, placing him at No. 10 on their official list of most frequent performers, which dates back to the company’s 1883 inception.

Plishka has an extensive discography on Angel, ABC, Columbia, Erato, London, RCA and Vox Records. His recording of the Verdi Requiem with the Atlanta Symphony and Robert Shaw won a Grammy award for the Best Classical Album of 1988. He has also recorded Luisa Miller and the Marriage of Figaro, both with James Levine and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for Sony Classical, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the London Philharmonic and André Previn for London/Decca.

A National Patron of Delta Omicron, the international professional music fraternity, Plishka has earned a number of awards and recognition for his artistry, including the Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and induction into the Hall of Fame for Great American Opera Singers.

The Westminster Symphonic Choir has recorded and performed with Plishka several times, including Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, which they performed with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra at the gala opening of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, which was broadcast on PBS’ Great Performances.

Back to People
From left, John H. Martinson, Dr. George A. Pruitt and Paul Plishka will receive honorary degrees at Commencement 2013.