Press Releases Index

April 18, 2005
CONTACT: Tom McLaughlin
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Kean University to Hold Graduate Commencement Ceremony at NJPAC

UNION, N.J. ––The Kean University Nathan Weiss Graduate College will hold its Commencement ceremonies on Tuesday, May 10, at 7 p.m. at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located at One Center Street in Newark, N.J. More than 650 graduate students are expected to receive their degrees.

For the third consecutive year, Kean will hold a separate ceremony off campus for those earning graduate degrees. “Highlighting this level of study as a unique entity of the University certainly showcases Kean's growth in higher education across so many disciplines,” said Dr. Kristie Reilly, dean of the Nathan Weiss Graduate College.

Eleanor F. Kubacki, CEO and president of EFK Group in Trenton, N.J., will be this year’s featured Commencement speaker. Since her association with Kean University began in 1999, Kubacki has become a true and dedicated friend to the institution. Over the past five years, she has worked in conjunction with Kean to market the University throughout the United States. Repeatedly making in-kind donations of her time, and doing work for the cost of labor and materials, Kubacki has helped reposition Kean's image and cement its reputation as the university of first choice for thousands of students.

Kubacki also served as a session leader at Kean University’s successful Thinking Creatively design conference last March, where she directed a discussion about summoning group creativity for the purpose of a single, focused advertising message. Kubacki and her husband regularly attend such Kean events as the Kean Gala, Wilkins Theatre offerings and the School of Visual and Performing Arts Springtime Showcase.

A success story much like those of Kean's first-generation students, Kubacki started her company out of her modest, one-bedroom apartment. A former waitress, she used her credit cards to generate start-up capital for her business. Since then, Kubacki has seen the award-winning and repeatedly lauded EFK Group grow into a leading advertising agency with a worldwide client base.

Today, EFK Group is a multimillion dollar advertising and public-relations firm based in Trenton, N.J. It was recently ranked as the 18th fastest-growing, privately held firm in the region by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Also, Inc. magazine cited EFK Group as one of the 25 urban companies to watch in the United States.

Kubacki is committed to philanthropy as well. EFK Group has directly raised more than $2 million for local charities. It's largest annual event is the Exelon Invitational (Golf Classic), hosted last year by U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk, which, to date, has raised nearly $1 million for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. She is also the founder and president of RU with the Homeless, a member of the Board of PAM'S list and an advocate of the Women, Infants and Children Program.

Sister Rose Thering, O.P., Ph.D., a crusader for Judeo-Christian relations, will be bestowed with an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University. A former member of the Kean University Board of Trustees, Thering recently saw a lifelong passion of hers gain national attention when the film Sister Rose’s Passion earned a 2005 Academy Award nomination in the category of Best Documentary Short. The film cast a huge spotlight on her 50-year fight against anti-Semitism and to improve worldwide Judeo-Christian relations.

Unsettled by the message of intolerance toward Jews, Thering joined the Sisters of St. Dominic at the age of 16, and began to teach upon her ordination. For years, she continued to find anti-Semitic references in many Catholic school texts while teaching at the elementary- and high-school levels.

Determined to examine this troubling issue in greater depth, Thering began to pursue a doctoral degree at Saint Louis University in 1957. She was encouraged by Father Trafford Maher, the head of the school’s Department of Education, to thoroughly examine textbooks that were being used in secondary schools to look for examples of anti-Semitism. She found numerous passages where Jews were described in what she remembers as very ugly terms. “When I began to read them, it almost made me ill,” she recalled.

Thering finished her research in 1961, just one year before Pope John XXIII convened the historic Second Vatican Council. Despite resistance from some quarters, her research was eventually used by the Vatican when it issued its 1965 declaration that ''what happened in His (Christ’s) passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews today.''

For nearly 30 years hence, Thering taught in the Department of Jewish-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., where she remains a professor emerita. She has traveled more than 50 times to Israel. Today, though retired, she continues to live in the senior housing at the MetroWest Jewish Center in Whippany, N.J.

The 39-minute film Sister Rose’s Passion, which captured the award for Best Documentary Short at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2004, was produced by Storyville Films and New Jersey Studios. One of five films nominated for the 2005 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Award, it intersperses footage of Nazi Germany with people-on-the-street interviews. In it, present-day Catholics describe being taught as children how Jews were responsible for the death of Christ. It also accompanies Thering on a trip to her Wisconsin hometown. Sister Rose's Passion has been purchased by HBO and is scheduled to be aired on Cinemax sometime in May.