A total of 1,347 bachelor’s, master’s and associate degrees will be conferred upon students in Lawrenceville and Princeton. The University will also present three honorary doctorates, one at each ceremony.
Sean Ramsden
Graduating students will touch the Rider Rock at Commecement, ensuring they maintain their Rider connection.

Graduating students will touch the Rider Rock at Commecement, ensuring they maintain their Rider connection.

Rider University and the Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton will celebrate three distinct Commencement 2012 ceremonies over the course of three days, May 10, 11 and 12, and will confer a total of 1,347 bachelor’s, master’s and associate degrees to students. The University will also present three honorary doctorates, one at each ceremony.

Bachelor’s degrees will be conferred upon 806 undergraduate students at Rider’s 147th Commencement exercises on Friday, May 11, at 9:30 a.m. on its Lawrenceville campus at 2083 Lawrenceville Road. These tassel-turners will join 410 graduate and College of Continuing Studies students who will receive their diplomas on Thursday, May 10, at 5 p.m., also on the Lawrenceville campus, and 131 graduates at Westminster Choir College’s 83rd Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 12, at 10:30 a.m. in the Princeton University Chapel.

During the 2011-12 academic year, Rider has celebrated the 50th anniversary of its School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and has invited graduates from the classes of 1962, ’63 and ’64 back to campus to celebrate the golden anniversary at Commencement. Also to honor this occasion, Dr. Richard Burgh ’68, one of four School of Liberal Arts and Sciences alumni now on its faculty, will bear the School’s ceremonial gonfalon during the Commencement procession.

Burgh, a professor of Philosophy who returned to Rider in 1975, will also witness his daughter, Jessica Burgh ’12, earn her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies at the College of Continuing Studies ceremony on Thursday night. It is believed that this is the first time that a child of a faculty member who also graduated from Rider will receive a degree from the University.

Friday’s Undergraduate Commencement ceremony will see bachelor’s degrees conferred upon the first graduating cohort of Rider’s School of Fine and Performing Arts, a division of the Westminster College of the Arts and located on Rider’s Lawrenceville campus. To help mark the occasion, 13 members of the cohort will perform the national anthem near the start of the ceremony.

Live Coverage!

Rider’s Office of University Communications will be live Tweeting during Thursday’s and Friday’s Commencement ceremonies. Follow us at @RiderUnivComm to track notable moments, including speakers’ remarks, as they happen. Check back later for news and notes on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RiderUniversity. “Like” us while you’re there!

Streaming video of Thursday’s and Friday’s ceremonies is available on the Rider University website, http://www.rider.edu. The Graduate/CCS Commencement video will begin streaming at 5 p.m. on Thursday, and the Undergraduate Commencement feed will start at 9 a.m. on Friday.

Friday’s Undergraduate Commencement and Saturday’s Westminster Choir College Commencement can be heard live on Rider’s campus radio station, 107.7 FM, The Bronc, beginning at 9:30 and 9:45 a.m., respectively. To listen online to Friday’s event live from Lawrenceville, click here: http://www.rider.edu/commencement. To hear Saturday’s event live from Princeton, click here: http://www.rider.edu/wcc/about-us/commencement.

Commencement Breakdown:

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. 


Thursday, May 10

Graduate and College of Continuing Studies Commencement

5 p.m. on Rider’s Lawrenceville campus

2083 Lawrenceville Road (Route 206 South)


Total receiving diplomas: 410 (246 graduate degrees, 164 College of Continuing Studies)

Honorary Degree Recipient: Aaron Gast, Ph.D.

Aaron Gast, Ph.D., who recently retired after more than 32 years of service on the Board of the The Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation of Princeton, will be presented the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the University’s Graduate and College of Continuing Studies ceremony.

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 upon 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.


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.”

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.