Rider holds 2017 Commencement Ceremony in Trenton

The Class of 2017 includes more than 830 undergraduates
Adam Grybowski

On Friday, May 12, more than 830 students were joined by friends, family, faculty and staff at the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, N.J., to celebrate their graduation from Rider University.

“I have no doubt that you will achieve significant success and bring great credit to yourselves, your families and your alma mater,” said President Gregory G. Dell’Omo in his opening remarks. “So I encourage you to take your place in the world with enthusiasm and confidence, and be sure to return to your alma mater as often as you can, for you are a proud Bronc who will always be welcomed home with open arms.”

The students are ready to capitalize on their undergraduate experience. Nearly half — 45 percent — participated in an internship or co-op or were student teachers. One hundred of them competed as part of Rider’s Division I athletic programs, and 62 of them took advantage of Rider’s study abroad programs to travel the world.

Joe Plumeri, who has enjoyed a career spanning six decades in global commerce, community leadership and service with Shearson-Lehman, Citigroup, Primerica, Willis, and First Data, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws.

“Your purpose has to be genuine concern for other human beings,” said Plumeri, 73, who stepped out from behind the podium and spoke from the front of the stage before stepping off and addressing the crowd from the floor.

About eight percent of the Class of 2017 were born abroad. They represented 34 countries, including Qatar, Sri Lanka, Mongolia and Luxembourg. Of those born in the U.S., the overwhelming majority come from New Jersey, but 23 states are represented in the Class of 2017, including Alaska, Texas and Missouri. About a third of the Class are non-white.

By gender, females represented the majority of the Class of 2017, making up 60 percent of all undergraduates — slightly less than last year, when the Class of 2016 made up 63 percent of all undergraduates. Female-dominated graduating classes at Rider have followed a similar trend in the U.S. since the mid-1990s.

Kathryn Weniger ’17, an English major with a concentration in writing, delivered the student speech at the Undergraduate ceremony. Weniger participated in several editorial internships as an undergraduate, including at the New Jersey State Division of Travel and Tourism in Trenton and the Sarah Jane Freymann Literacy Agency in Manhattan. An advertising minor, she maintained a 3.1 GPA and received the Dean’s Academic Scholarship.

"Today, as we stand at the threshold of the most important moment of our lives, the world is an uncertain place,” she told the attendees. “But I look forward to seeing our graduating class leave its lasting mark on Rider, the nation and the world.”

Dr. Trevor Buser, associate professor in the Department of Graduate Education, Leadership, and Counseling, and Dr. Sharon Morrow, assistant professor in the Department of Music Education, both received a Distinguished Teaching Award in recognition of their dedication to students. Dr. Jonathan Mendilow of the Department of Political Science received the Dominick A. Iorio Research Award.

Senior Class President Samantha Rose Giallanza ’17 presented the class gift on behalf of the Class of 2017. This year, gifts were made to The Rider Fund in support of the Class of 2017, which support things like financial aid and scholarships, academic program enhancements, study abroad opportunities and campus improvements — such as the new fire pit — for Rider students. Donors were given the opportunity to honor the members of Rider's faculty and staff who made a difference in their lives at Rider. Ninety-three embers of Rider’s faculty and staff have been honored.

Following the ceremony, Connor O’Neil of Bridgewater, N.J., a communications major, won a brand new 2017 Toyota iM from Team Toyota of Princeton. To participate in The Bronc’s Cruisin’ From Commencement contest, students created two-minute videos detailing their experiences at Rider. As part of the prize, O’Neil will also set sail on a Royal Caribbean Cruise for two to the Caribbean courtesy of Vacations By Stacy.

The event marked the first year in recent history that Rider’s Lawrenceville Commencement was held off-campus. Holding Commencement ceremonies at The Sun National Bank Center allowed the University to offer more ceremony tickets per student than it is currently able to provide when inclement weather forces Commencement indoors.