Press Releases Index

April 6, 2004
CONTACT: Tom McLaughlin
Office of University Relations
908-737-NEWS (6397)

Kean University to Hold 149th Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony

UNION, N.J. – –Kean University will hold its 149th Commencement ceremonies on Thursday, May 6, at 9:30 a.m. at the PNC Bank Arts Center, located off exit 116 on the Garden State Parkway in Holmdel, N.J. Nearly 2,000 undergraduate students are expected to receive their degrees.

“At Kean, we are proud to have played a role in the education and shaping of tomorrow’s leaders. I know that each of our graduates will continue to grow that pride in each of us,” said Kean University President Dawood Farahi. “And we are honored that Gov. James E. McGreevey, a champion of education in the state of New Jersey, will be joining us in celebrating this joyous occasion.”

McGreevey will be the featured keynote speaker at this year’s ceremony. Despite fiscal challenges of historic levels in his first two years as the state's chief executive, he has made education a top priority, with a strong focus on literacy. To ensure that children can read well by the end of the third grade, the state put reading coaches in 100 schools and encouraged children to read by creating the Governor's Book Club. In addition, New Jersey has undertaken the largest school construction project in the country – $8.6 billion over the next 10 years.

There will be four honorary degrees bestowed by the University during the ceremony. Trustee Kenneth L. Estabrook, Esq., who died on November 13, 2003, at 79 years of age, will receive a posthumous Doctor of Laws (L.L.D.). Anne Evans Estabrook, president of the Elberon Development Co. and the first female chair of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, will accept the honor on behalf of her late husband.

Kenneth Estabrook was a member of the Kean Board of Trustees for eight years, serving as chair for one term. He also devoted his time to several of the University’s committees, including the Building, Finance and Audit Committee, where he helped to initiate many significant campus improvement projects and spearheaded the Kean Hall renovation. In addition to this dedicated service, Estabrook and his wife donated generously to the University. Their gifts included furnishing the Estabrook Conference Room in Kean Hall and the funding of an endowment.

Richie Sambora, lead guitarist and songwriter for one of the most internationally beloved hard-rock bands, Bon Jovi, will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.). Since joining the group shortly after it was formed, more than 100 million Bon Jovi albums have been sold throughout the world. Sambora has co-written four No. 1 hit singles, 20 top-10 singles and nearly 40 top-40 songs, including Wanted Dead or Alive, Livin’ on a Prayer, I’ll Be There for You, Bed of Roses, and It’s My Life.

A band proud of its New Jersey roots, Bon Jovi was at the forefront of the entertainment community’s efforts to aid the families affected by the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Shortly after the tragedies, Bon Jovi participated at two concerts for the Monmouth County Alliance of Neighbors in Red Bank, N.J., to raise funds for the families close to the band members’ hometowns. Bon Jovi also performed at the monumental Concert for New York at Madison Square Garden, raising relief funds and honoring those who worked to save lives immediately following the disaster.

Malin Falu, one of the most recognizable voices in the Spanish-speaking community, will also receive a Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.). Whether as a radio personality, ordained minister or healing therapist, she has touched thousands of lives in the greater metropolitan area. A native of Santurce, Puerto Rico, Falu worked for more than 25 years as a talk-show host for a variety of Spanish-language radio stations in New York, including co-hosting Radio WADO 1280-AM’s morning-drive show, WADO Reloj.

A self-described sensitive, practical and spiritual person, Falu is an ordained minister, licensed to conduct weddings and baptisms in the state of New York. In addition, she waged a bid for a seat in the New York State Senate in 2002, for District 28, which encompasses parts of the South and West Bronx, Roosevelt Island, North Yorkville and Washington Heights, and is a breast-cancer survivor who has committed herself to educating others about the disease.
Raymond V. Gilmartin, who has steered Merck & Co., Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., to the top of the state’s prominent pharmaceutical trade, will receive a Doctor of Laws (L.L.D.). While maintaining a current standard of business excellence, Gilmartin has also demonstrated a firm commitment to the scholars and future scientists of New Jersey.

Gilmartin joined Merck & Co., Inc., a global, research-driven pharmaceutical products and services company, in 1994, as its president and chief executive officer. He was named chairman of the board later that same year. Under his leadership, Merck discovers, develops, manufactures and markets a broad range of innovative products to improve human and animal health, directly and through its joint ventures. He also serves on the board of directors at General Mills and Microsoft and is the president of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations. Furthermore, he is the chairman of the Council on Competitiveness, a director of the United Negro College Fund and a member of the Business Roundtable and the Business Council.