Press Releases Index

Contact: Stephen J. Hudik

Kean University to Hold Graduate and Undergraduate Commencement Ceremonies in May

UNION - Kean University will award degrees to 711 graduate and 2,128 undergraduate students at commencement ceremonies in May. The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, N.J. will host the Nathan Weiss Graduate College ceremonies on Tuesday, May 13, at 7 p.m. The undergraduate ceremonies will take place on Thursday, May 15, at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J., starting at 9:30 a.m.

Jeff Taylor, founder of the globally recognized online career search agent, will serve as the commencement speaker at the undergraduate ceremonies. Taylor, co-author of Monster Careers: How to Land the Job of Your Life, launched, an online community for adults over age 50, in 2006.

Award-winning television producer and best-selling author Linda Ellerbee will deliver the keynote address at the graduate ceremonies. Known for her trademark signoff, “And so it goes,” Ellerbee first gained notoriety covering national politics as a journalist for NBC News. She then pioneered the late-night news program NBC News Overnight, writing and anchoring the broadcast. The duPont Columbia Awards cited NBC News Overnight as “the best written and most intelligent news program ever.”

In 1987, Ellerbee and partner, Rolfe Tessem started Lucky Duck Production, which produces numerous primetime specials, including Nickelodeon’s Nick News. The program is a five-time Emmy winner, recipient of three Peabody Awards and a duPont Columbia Award. Ellerbee, who is a breast cancer survivor and inspirational speaker, has written numerous books, including the eight-part children’s series Get Real, and her latest work for adults, Take Big Bites: Adventures Around the World and Across the Table.

Michelle Gadsden-Williams ’91 will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the undergraduate ceremonies. She is the vice president and global head of diversity and inclusion at Novartis Pharma A.G. She is one of 75 women honored for her accomplishments at the 2005 Tribute to Women in Industry (TWIN) Gala and was named Harvard’s 2008 BMF Businesswoman of the Year. She recently received the Rainbow Push Coalition’s Bridge Builder Award from the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson.

Gadsden-Williams graduated from Kean with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications. She then earned a Master of Science degree in organizational dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Holocaust survivor Clara (Schwarz) Kramer will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the graduate commencement ceremonies. She and her husband, Sol, co-founded the Holocaust Resource Foundation at Kean University.

Kramer was born in 1927 in Zolkiew, a town in Poland that is now part of the Ukraine. The start of World War II in 1939 marked the beginning of Russian occupation there. In an attempt to escape the Germans, several families joined 15-year-old Kramer and her family as they hid in an underground bunker.

While underground, Kramer listened to her mother’s instruction and kept a diary of what occurred for 20 months until liberation. The original diary is in the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Of approximately 5,000 Jews in Zolkiew before the war, Kramer and her parents were among approximately 60 who survived. Her sister, Mania, was captured and killed by the Germans. Kramer has recently authored a biography of her wartime experience, Clara’s War, which was published in Europe last month. She hopes that the book will continue her mission of “telling the story” long after she is gone.

Media wishing to cover either graduation may contact Stephen J. Hudik at (908) 37-0590 or e-mail

Founded in 1855, Kean University serves a diverse population of more than 13,000 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students may choose from more than 80 academic programs and offerings in four undergraduate colleges, the School of Visual and Performing Arts and the Nathan Weiss Graduate College. In addition, Kean University is set to offer its first doctoral programs: the Ph.D. in school psychology, and the Ed.D. in urban educational leadership. The campus encompasses more than 150 acres in central/northern New Jersey with convenient public transportation and access to New York City and the metropolitan area. The University also has a partnership program with Ocean County College and several off-site programs.