Rider proudly bestowed the honorary Doctor of Humane Letter upon Aaron Gast, Ph.D., trustee emeritus of the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation, at the University’s graduate and College of Continuing Studies ceremony on Thursday, May 10. President Mordechai Rozanski conferred 410 degrees to students who had successfully completed their studies.
Sean Ramsden

The first of Rider's three Commencement ceremonies saw 410 degrees conferred on Thursday, May 10.

Rider University proudly bestowed the honorary Doctor of Humane Letter upon Aaron Gast, Ph.D., trustee emeritus on the Board of the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation of Princeton, at the University’s graduate and College of Continuing Studies ceremony on Thursday, May 10.

In addition to Gast, Rider President Mordechai Rozanski conferred 410 degrees to students who had successfully completed their studies. Among these are graduate students receiving master’s degrees and undergraduates from Rider’s College of Continuing Studies, who earned their bachelor’s and associate degrees.

Rozanski congratulated the evening’s graduates, who made up part of Rider’s total graduating class of 1,347, who join an alumni family more than 50,000.

“In awarding you your degree, we share with you that sense of mastery, pride and joy that comes with reaching a hard-earned goal,” said Rozanski, the University’s president since 2003. “Not only have you made it today, but I’m confident that you can look forward to more success in the future. The knowledge and skills you have attained at Rider, and particularly, the skill of continuous learning, are lifetime assets that will help you better manage both the opportunities and challenges you will encounter.”

Michael Rosati ’10, M.B.A. ’12, who earned his Master of Business Administration, presented the student address. Rosati, a less-than-stellar student at Hamilton High School West, served seven years in the U.S. Coast Guard before enrolling at Rider to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as a member of the Broncs’ wrestling program.

“Perhaps one of the most influential things I have learned was five years ago on the wrestling mat. It was to ‘always move forward, don’t stop moving forward,’” Rosati said. “As time went on, I began to understand that this simple wrestling tactic also applied to academics. When these academic issues would distract me, my coaches would simply emphasize that you can’t change the past, but you can always move forward.”

Aaron Gast, Ph.D., recently retired after more than 32 years of service on the Board of the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation of Princeton. Since its inception in 1979 through the end of the 2011 academic year, the Newcombe Foundation has provided more than $17 million in grants for mature women students at 58 colleges and universities in the United States. In 1981, Rider became the first school in the United States to receive funds from the Newcombe Foundation, and since then, it has received more than $1.2 million in scholarship support.

One-third of this total was used to establish an endowed scholarship fund for sacred music students at Westminster Choir College. The remaining two-thirds has funded scholarships for 600 mature women who have graduated from Rider University. This year, Rider will confer degrees on 10 proud Newcombe Scholars.

In December 2011, on the occasion of Gast’s retirement from the Newcombe Board, the Foundation made a major gift to Westminster’s proposed new academic building in support of that project. Gast’s wife, Mickey Gast, a Westminster alumna and member of Rider’s Board of Trustees, is co-chair of the Westminster Campaign Committee.

A Green Graduation

For the third year in a row, Rider and Westminster Choir College are using GreenWeaver caps and gowns, made from 100 percent, post-consumer recycled plastic bottles, to robe all students for Commencement 2012 exercises. Eco-friendly GreenWeaver gowns are made of fabric spun from molten plastic pellets, producing a comfortably soft fabric that literally turns trash into keepsakes. Each gown represents about 23 bottles.

Produced by Oak Hall Cap & Gown of Salem, Va., the GreenWeaver will be used by approximately 5 percent of colleges and universities this year. GreenWeaver is not biodegradable – Oak Hall vice president Donna Hodges maintains that caps and gowns should be keepsakes for a lifetime – but the fabric is easily recycled into other products, including fabric fill for coats. Oak Hall estimates that approximately 310,000 graduating students will wear GreenWeaver caps and gowns this year, and that the company has diverted about 9 million plastic bottles from landfills.

Learn more about GreenWeaver caps and gowns at:


In addition, the Commencement programs have been printed on recycled FSC Certified paper using vegetable-based inks.

Other Rider and Westminster Choir College Commencement Events:

Friday, May 11

147th Undergraduate Commencement  

9:30 a.m. on Rider’s Lawrenceville campus

2083 Lawrenceville Road (Route 206 South)

Total receiving diplomas: 806

Honorary Degree Recipient: Maureen G. Maguire, Ph.D.

Rider University has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of its School of Liberal Arts and Sciences throughout the 2011-12 academic year, and at the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 11, President Mordechai Rozanski will bestow the honorary Doctor of Science upon one of its alumnae, 1975 graduate Maureen G. Maguire, Ph.D.

Maguire joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in July 1994 to establish the Center for Preventive Ophthalmology and Biostatistics. Since then, she has held leadership positions in several multicenter clinical trials for the prevention and treatment of age-related macular degeneration sponsored by industry and the National Institutes of Health. In addition, she was actively involved in the development of the Vision in Preschoolers Study, a National Eye Institute-sponsored, multicenter, clinical investigation of methods for screening young children for vision problems.

As a student at Rider, Maguire was an Andrew J. Rider Scholar and led the Math Club. She graduated summa cum laude as Mathematics major and was chosen as the valedictorian of the Class of 1975. She received her doctoral degree in 1983 from the Department of Biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health and subsequently joined the faculty of the Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, at Johns Hopkins. 


Saturday, May 12

Westminster Choir College’s 83rd Commencement  

10:30 a.m. in the Princeton University Chapel

36 University Place, Princeton, N.J.

Total receiving diplomas: 131 (76 undergraduate, 55 graduate)

Honorary Degree Recipient: Morten Lauridsen, D.M.A.

Morten Lauridsen, D.M.A., is a Distinguished Professor of Composition at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music whose work occupies a permanent place in the standard vocal repertoire of the 21st Century. Lauridsen chaired the Department of Composition at the Thornton School of Music from 1990 to 2002, and founded the School’s Advanced Studies Program in Film Scoring. He was also the Composer-in-Residence of the Los Angeles Master Chorale from 1995 to 2001.

Lauridsen’s five Grammy-nominated recordings include two all-Lauridsen CDs, entitled Lux Aeterna, by Polyphony and the Britten Sinfonia, conducted by Stephen Layton, and by the Los Angeles Master Chorale under the baton of Paul Salamunovich. His O Magnum Mysterium, Dirait-on, O Nata Lux and Sure On This Shining Night are the all-time best-selling choral works distributed by the Theodore Presser Company, a music publishing firm founded in 1783, and his life as a composer was documented in the award-winning 2012 film, Shining Night: A Portrait of Composer Morten Lauridsen, by Michael Stillwater.

In 2006, Lauridsen was named an American Choral Master by the National Endowment for the Arts. The following year, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts, the highest artistic award in the United States, by President George W. Bush in a White House ceremony in recognition of “his composition of radiant choral works combining musical beauty, power, and spiritual depth.”