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Rider announces honorary degree recipients for Commencement ceremonies

President Emeritus J. Barton Luedeke, former State Senator Peter Inverso ’60 and world-renowned conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin will receive degrees
04/29/2015

During its 150th Commencement ceremonies on the Lawrenceville campus, Rider University will proudly bestow honorary degrees upon Rider University President Emeritus J. Barton Luedeke and Rider alumnus Peter Inverso ’60, former New Jersey State Senator. Luedeke will be presented the honorary Doctor of Laws at the Graduate and College of Continuing Studies Commencement Ceremony on Thursday, May 14, while Inverso will receive the honorary Doctor of Laws at the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 15.

On Saturday, May 16, acclaimed conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin will receive the honorary Doctor of Music at the 86th Commencement exercises for the Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton. Nézet-Séguin will also deliver the Commencement address. 

J. Barton Luedeke served as Rider’s fifth president from 1990 until his retirement in 2003. During his tenure, Rider saw the completion of several major facility projects, the dramatic expansion of its information technology infrastructure, the move to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the establishment of a comprehensive advancement and marketing program, and the successful completion of its first-ever general capital campaign. Most importantly, Luedeke led the successful merger with Westminster Choir College and was instrumental in Rider’s achievement of university status in 1994, making Rider the first New Jersey institution to meet the state mandated guidelines.   

Rider’s Student Center, fondly referred to as the BLC, was named in Luedeke’s honor upon his retirement in recognition of his strong commitment to students and the true sense of community he fostered during his 32 years of service to the University. 

Luedeke came to Rider in 1971 as the assistant to then President Frank N. Elliott.  He was associate provost, vice president for Academic Affairs and provost and dean of the College of Continuing Studies, where he led a comprehensive redesign of the former Evening School and guided the creation of the Liberal Studies degree program.  

A strong advocate of the transformative power of higher education and athletics in the lives of students, Luedeke held leadership roles with several national organizations including the NCAA.  He currently serves on several boards, among them the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation and that of his alma mater, Hanover College. 

Luedeke earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Illinois, an M.Ed. in counseling from Xavier University and a B.A. in psychology from Hanover College.

Peter Inverso ’60 served the 14th district of New Jersey with distinction as State Senator from 1992 to 2008.  He held several positions during his tenure in the state legislature: assistant majority leader, deputy minority leader, Chairman of the State Government Committee, Co-Chairman of the Law and Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs Committee and Vice Chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee.                                                                             

Dedicated to protecting New Jersey’s children, Inverso was the prime architect of several important pieces of legislation which currently serve as national models.  Among them are Megan’s Law, the Megan’s Law Internet Notification amendment, and the Victim’s Impact Statement. A tireless advocate for education, Inverso was also responsible for the establishment of the School Breakfast Program and the Outstanding Scholars Recruitment Program, designed to keep New Jersey’s best and brightest college-age students in state. 

Before joining the state legislature, Inverso served on the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders from 1981 to 1983 and then again from 1987 to 1989.  A highly regarded business leader, Inverso was president and CEO of Roma Financial Corporation and its subsidiary Roma Bank from 2000 until its 2013 merger with Investors Bank.  He was also Chairman of the Board of RomAsia Bank and has served in leadership positions on the boards of Catholic Charities and Robert Wood Johnson Healthcare, among other organizations.

Inverso earned his Bachelor of Science in Commerce from Rider in 1960. He was honored in 2012 as a member of Rider’s Accounting Hall of Fame and served his alma mater as a member of the Board of Trustees from 2003 to 2012.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin began his leadership of The Philadelphia Orchestra in the fall of 2012.  He is also artistic director and principal conductor of Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain and music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic.  He also continues to enjoy a close collaboration with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, of which he was Principal Guest Conductor 2008-14.  

At the helm of The Philadelphia Orchestra, Nézet-Séguin’s highly collaborative style, deeply rooted musical curiosity, and boundless enthusiasm, paired with a fresh approach to orchestral programming, have been heralded by critics and audiences alike. The New York Times has called Nézet-Séguin “phenomenal,” adding that under his baton, “the ensemble, famous for its glowing strings and homogenous richness, has never sounded better.”  

Since Nézet-Séguin’s appointment, the Westminster Symphonic Choir, which is composed of students at Westminster Choir College, has performed seven works with The Philadelphia Orchestra under his baton. The most recent is Leonard Bernstein’s rarely performed Mass. 

A notable opera conductor, Nézet-Séguin’s regular engagements at The Metropolitan Opera have seen him conduct Don CarloRusalka, La Traviata and Faust in recent seasons. He has also appeared at the Salzburg Festival, Teatro alla Scala, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Netherlands Opera. 

A native of Montreal, Nézet-Séguin studied piano, conducting, composition and chamber music at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec and choral conducting at the Westminster Choir College, before going on to study with renowned conductors, most notably Italian maestro Carlo Maria Giulini and Westminster’s Joseph Flummerfelt. His honors include a prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Award; Canada’s National Arts Centre Award and the Prix Denise-Pelletier, the highest distinction for the arts in Quebec awarded by the Quebec government. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2012. 

Rider’s Graduate and College of Continuing Studies Commencement Ceremony will be held on the Lawrenceville campus on Thursday, May 14, at 5 p.m. The Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony will take place on Friday, May 15, at 9:30 a.m. on the Lawrenceville campus. Westminster Choir College’s Commencement Ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 16, at 10:30 a.m. in the Princeton University Chapel.  

Further information about all three Commencement ceremonies can be found at www.rider.edu/commencement.