Fairleigh Dickinson University Holds 70th Commencement on May 21

Released: 5/6/2013 3:30 PM EDT
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More than 2500 Students from 50 Countries to Receive Degrees

Newswise — Teaneck, NJ — On Tuesday, May 21, 2013, the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ will be the site for the 70th Commencement ceremony of Fairleigh Dickinson University. Approximately 2500 students will receive doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees.

Class Facts: FDU’s Class of 2013 represents 26 countries including the United States, 24 states plus the District of Columbia and all 21 counties in New Jersey.

The Commencement ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. and will be broadcast live on the Web, allowing family and friends around the world to share the ceremony with the graduates. The live stream begins at 8 a.m. EDT with the scrolling of the names of the graduates and Grad Greetings, followed by the full commencement ceremony. A link on the FDU home page (http://www.fdu.edu) will go directly to the live stream. For webcast information go to http://www.fdu.edu/commencement.

The campus provosts will present the Student Pinnacle Awards to this year’s winners: Michel’le Bryant from the Metropolitan campus in Teaneck, Daniel Palmer from the College at Florham campus and Ronaldo Martins from FDU-Vancouver.

During the ceremony, the University will confer honorary degrees on Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize winner; Michel (Mitch) Baumeister, FDU alum and attorney; and Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09). Williams will serve as the Commencement speaker.

Honorary Degree Recipients

Michel (Mitch) Baumeister, a renowned trial attorney for almost 30 years, has concentrated his practice in the field of aviation accident and mass tort litigation. In 1988, he co-founded with his wife, Lynn Samuels, the now-internationally recognized firm of Baumeister & Samuels, specializing in the fields of aviation, toxic tort and medical malpractice.

Combining his extensive trial background with more than 40 years of aviation experience as a pilot, Baumeister’s career has been dedicated to helping air-crash victims and their families receive proper and adequate compensation, as well as to making improvements in aviation safety. Baumeister & Samuels represented the families of many of the passengers killed on board the various planes hijacked on September 11, 2001, as one of three New York firms specializing in aviation disasters to handle the bulk of the cases.

Prior to his entry into private practice, Baumeister served as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan and assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. While serving as a federal prosecutor, he conducted an international investigation that resulted in the first successful tax-fraud indictment and verdict in the commodity futures field.

He is routinely contacted by the media for his analysis of aviation mass disasters and has made numerous appearances on both television and radio broadcasts in the U.S. and internationally. He is a contributing editor on aviation law for the New Jersey Law Journal, a member of the editorial board of the Aviation Litigation Reporter and adjunct professor of aviation law at Seton Hall University School of Law.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Baumeister received a JD from Seton Hall University School of Law and an LLM in international law from New York University School of Law.

Baumeister’s connections to FDU are extensive. He is a member of the Division III Hall of Fame (lacrosse) and a recipient of The PINNACLE and the Elia G. Stratis Award for Service. Baumeister became close friends with lacrosse coach Robert Shields and contributed his first major gift to FDU for the Shields Field campaign at the College at Florham. He is a major benefactor whose financial support has also been directed to the lacrosse program, the Stratis and McAdam scholarships and the Annual Robert T. Shields Devils Alumni Golf Outing. He has endowed a global MBA scholarship, established the Shields Memorial Fund and most recently has seeded the development of an academic aviation program at FDU.

Bill Pascrell, Jr., a native of Paterson, N.J., has built a life of public service upon the principles he learned while growing up on the south side of the Silk City. He credits his parents and his Italian-immigrant grandparents with instilling in him the value of being a “bridge builder,” one who seeks to bring together the diverse peoples and neighborhoods in the community he serves. Pascrell’s tenacity and dedication as a U.S. congressman are marked by service to his constituents and his rise in leadership on critical issues.

Pascrell was first elected congressman for New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District in 1996. After congressional reapportionment, the district was reconfigured and renumbered to be the 9th Congressional District beginning with the 113th Congress in 2013. Pascrell is now serving his ninth term. Since 2007, he has served on the exclusive House Ways and Means Committee, the first committee established in the U.S. Congress, overseeing numerous economic issues including Social Security, taxes, Medicare, international trade and health policy. In 2011, he was appointed by his colleagues to the additional assignment of serving on the pivotal House Budget Committee, the congressional body responsible for the national budget process. In his roles on both committees, Pascrell has been a champion for the middle class by supporting policies that help facilitate job creation, distribute the tax burden equitably and make quality health care affordable.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in philosophy from Fordham University, Bronx, N.Y., Pascrell worked as both a high-school history teacher and an adjunct professor at FDU. He also served as president of the Paterson Board of Education and as a member of Passaic County Community College’s board of trustees. Pascrell served in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Army Reserve.

Jody Williams received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work to ban landmines through the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which shared the Peace Prize with her that year. At that time, she became the 10th woman — and the third American woman — in the prize’s almost 100-year history to receive it. She has been a lifelong advocate of freedom, self-determination and human and civil rights.

Since January of 2006, Jody Williams has worked toward those ends through the Nobel Women's Initiative, which she chairs. Along with sister Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi of Iran, she took the lead in establishing the Nobel Women’s Initiative. They were joined at that time by sister Nobel Laureates Wangari Maathai (Kenya), Rigoberta Menchú Tum (Guatemala) and Betty Williams and Mairead Maguire (Northern Ireland). The Initiative uses the prestige of the Nobel Peace Prize and the influence and access of the women Nobel Laureates themselves to support and amplify the efforts of women around the world working for sustainable peace with justice and equality.

Since 1998, Williams has also served as a campaign ambassador for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Beginning in early 1992 with two nongovernmental organizations and a staff of one — Williams, she oversaw the campaign’s growth to more than 1,300 organizations in 95 countries working to eliminate antipersonnel landmines. In an unprecedented cooperative effort with governments, U.N. bodies and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICBL), she served as a chief strategist and spokesperson for the ICBL as it dramatically achieved its goal of an international treaty banning antipersonnel landmines during a diplomatic conference held in Oslo in September 1997.

Williams continues to be recognized for her contributions to human rights and global security. She is the recipient of 15 honorary degrees, among other recognitions. In 2004, Williams was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world in the publication of its first such annual list.

She holds the Sam and Cele Keeper Endowed Professorship in Peace and Social Justice at the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston, Texas, where she has been teaching since 2003. In academic year 2012–2013, she became the inaugural Jane Addams Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Social Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Her new memoir on life as a grassroots activist, My Name is Jody Williams: A Vermont Girl’s Winding Path to the Nobel Peace Prize, was released by the University of California Press in early 2013.

Student Pinnacle Winners

The 2013 Student Pinnacle Awards will be presented to Michel’le Bryant of Gouldtown, N.J., representing the Metropolitan Campus in Teaneck, N.J.; Daniel Palmer of Newtown, N.J., representing the College at Florham in Madison, N.J. and Ronaldo Martins of Patos de Minas, Brazil, representing FDU-Vancouver.

The Pinnacle Award is the highest honor the University bestows on a graduating student. One student from each campus who has demonstrated academic excellence, public service and commitment to the University is honored. Winners will address their fellow graduates and the assembled audience. Ronaldo Martins, the Pinnacle winner from FDU-Vancouver, will also be recognized.

Michel’le Bryant of Gouldtown, a small rural town in southern New Jersey, has assumed leadership roles in the Student Government Association, Residence Hall Association, the Pre-Health Professionals, Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society, the Global Scholars Program and the University Honors Program. She has also worked as an orientation leader and student office assistant for the Office of Residence Life, where she earned the prestigious Our Region’s Best Award from the Mid-Atlantic Association of College and University Housing Offices and the Distinguished Rookie Resident Assistant of the Year Award. Her contributions to the FDU community have earned her various awards including the Division of Student Affairs Scholarship and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award. While maintaining a high grade point average, she has volunteered at Holy Name Hospital, Teaneck, N.J., and during spring break with Habitat for Humanity.

Bryant will continue her education at FDU by pursuing a master in public administration degree with a concentration in health care management while being employed as a graduate hall director. She intends to continue on to medical school and a specialization in emergency medicine in order to reach out in the future to underprivileged and underserved communities.

Ronaldo Martins of Patos de Minas, Brazil hails from a very small city, but after high school he traveled extensively — visiting more than 40 cities in 11 countries.

At FDU, Martins has been an orientation leader for new students and an academic representative for the Students Association. He also was appointed to the FDU-Vancouver Standards Committee, a role he has been holding for the last two-and-a-half years. In this position, Martins has helped FDU resolve a number of matters involving students’ behavior on campus.

Martins has excelled in his academic life. As an academic achiever, he has been part of the Silberman College of Business honors list for the last four years. He helped his FDU team score third place in the University of British Columbia’s REVEAL Business Competition, where it competed with teams from 21 universities. For his outstanding performance, Martins has been invited to join the prestigious Beta Gamma Sigma International Honor Society. Membership is the highest recognition of a business student at a business school accredited by the AACSB. Following his graduation, he plans to apply to law school in Canada.

Daniel Palmer, of Newtown, N.J., is the first generation in his family to attend college. He is a political science major and business minor and is set to graduate with a high grade point ratio and numerous achievements, including 10 internships.

Palmer served as president of the Student Government Association, president of the United Nations Association at the College at Florham, a resident assistant, an intern for the Office of Global Learning and a research assistant for the Florham Laboratory for Experimental Social Science — all at the College at Florham. He completed 10 internships during his academic career at institutions including the United States District Court, the United Nations, the Democratic National Convention, Congressman Rush Holt and Union Bank of Switzerland.

In addition, Palmer was selected to be a student representative on the Presidential Search Committee for FDU’s seventh president and is a member of the Alumni Association Board of Governors. Following his graduation, Palmer plans to attend law school.

About Fairleigh Dickinson University
Devoted to the preparation of world citizens through global education, Fairleigh Dickinson is New Jersey's largest private university and features more than 100 liberal arts and professional degree programs, two international campuses, dozens of partnerships with internationally renowned institutions and special programs and status within the United Nations. For more information, go to www.fdu.edu.


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