John H. Martinson, founder of the philanthropic Martinson Family Foundation, received the honorary Doctor of Laws.
Sean Ramsden

One new graduate's balloon captured the mood at Rider's 148th Commencement.

Rider University proudly bestowed the honorary Doctor of Laws upon John H. Martinson, founder of the philanthropic Martinson Family Foundation (MFF), which supports educational initiatives encouraging K-12 math and science teachers to broaden their knowledge and skills through collaborative programs at nearby colleges and universities, at the University’s 148th Undergraduate Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 17.

Rider President Mordechai Rozanski also conferred 917 baccalaureate degrees to students who had successfully completed their studies the previous week. They join 404 who received their diplomas the night before at the Graduate and College of Continuing Studies Commencement, and 135 who will receive theirs at the 84th Westminster Choir College Commencement on Friday afternoon.

Rozanski congratulated the evening’s graduates, who made up part of Rider’s total graduating class of 1,456 and now join a robust and active family of alumni.

“Go forth with confidence. And as you leave us and embark on the next stage of your life, do so with great pride because you are joining a distinguished family of more than 50,000 alumni of Rider University,” said Rozanski, the University’s president since 2003. “These alumni are accomplished men and women who have made and continue to make meaningful contributions worldwide. I have no doubt that you too will achieve significant success and bring great credit to yourselves, your families and your alma mater.”

Kristy Grinere ’13 of St. James, N.Y., who earned her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, presented the student address. A cum laude graduate, Grinere served as the opinion editor of The Rider News, the University’s award-winning student newspaper, where she excelled in the often difficult position of articulating the publication’s editorial voice.

“A wise friend told me once to do one thing every day that scares you. The day I decided to attend Rider was definitely something that scared me. From that moment on, it was all about committing to my decision and moving forward into a new chapter of life,” Grinere said. “We have each had unique opportunities to serve the Rider community, work alongside brilliant and generous professors and administrators, and really take advantage of our college experience. I know I owe it all to making the initial decision to attend Rider. Without taking that scary first jump into this university, I would not be the person I am today, nor would any of us.”

Martinson is regarded for his support of 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.

In his remarks, Martinson expressed pride at being honored in a year when Rider celebrated the 100th anniversary of its School of Education. He also noted that many K-12 teachers in Central New Jersey have benefited from professional development programs at the University.

“Rider graduates are well prepared to advance their work skills and change career fields. Rapid pace of technology enables lifelong learning,” said Martinson, whose son, John K. Martinson M.B.A. ’08, is a Rider graduate. “I encourage you to create your own opportunities. As a venture capitalist I am inspired by the enthusiasm and innovation of entrepreneurs. Start your own business or reshape established organization.”

During the ceremony, retiring Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Steven announced the recipients of the 2013 Distinguished Teaching awards. Dr. Eugene Kutcher, professor of Management and Human Resources and Dr. Vanita Neelakanta, professor of English, were selected by the University Honors Council from nominations submitted by Rider students, faculty, and academic administration for the annual honor.

Steven also introduced the winner of the inaugural Chairperson Leadership Award, Dr. Margaret O’Reilly-Allen, chair of the Department of Accounting.  

Dr. Sharon Sherman, dean of the School of Education, paid tribute to Dr. Walter Brower ’48, who served in a variety of administrative positions at Rider, spending 20 years as dean of the School of Education.

“Dr. Brower’s service extends beyond the School of Education,” Sherman said. “As Rider’s historian, he has chronicled the development of the University since the beginning. Today we celebrate him for these significant contributions.”

Fun Facts:

  • This year’s graduates hail from 23 states and 14 nations.
  • 6 percent of graduates competed for Rider as student-athletes.
  • For the first time, Rider awarded the master’s degree in Applied Psychology.
  • The Class of 2013 contributed some 120,000 hours to various community services, including Relay for Life, Rider’s annual fundraising event to fight cancer.
  • This year’s Relay for Life event included 56 teams of more than 700 students and raised more than $50,000 for the fourth year in a row
  • Rider’s School of Education is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
  • Identical twins Cherisse Williams ’13 and Cherissia Williams ’13 will become the first set of identical twin sisters to graduate from Westminster Choir College.

A Green Graduation

For the fourth 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 2013 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.

Oak Hall Cap & Gown of Salem, Va., which produces GreenWeaver, estimates that approximately 521,000 graduating students will wear GreenWeaver caps and gowns this year, and that the company has diverted about 12 million plastic bottles from landfills.

Rider is one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the United States and Canada, according to The Princeton Review. The renowned education services company selected Rider for inclusion in the newly released, fourth annual edition of its free downloadable book, The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges: 2013 Edition, which was released in April.

Learn more about GreenWeaver caps and gowns at: