Bloomfield College’s 150th commencement ceremony held Saturday, May 20, 2023 on the College Quadrangle marked a landmark moment in the history of the College. Just over 280 students, with family and friends in attendance, listened to inspiring remarks, including from three honorary degree recipients, as they received their new college degrees.
The Class of 2023 represented students who originated from or held citizenship in more than 12 countries. Close to half became first-generation college graduates. As the bachelor’s and master’s degrees were conferred—and tassels were moved from the right to the left—distinguished guests, families, friends and graduates cheered exuberantly in celebration of this milestone event.
The commencement ceremony included remarks from Chair of the Board of Trustees, Vernon M. Endo; College President, Marcheta P. Evans, Ph.D.; Montclair State University President Jonathan GS Koppell, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, Michael A. Palladino, Ph.D.; Alumni Association President, Maurice A. Lyle ’09; and the Class of 2023 valedictorian, Aliyah L. Rivera ’23 from Belleville, New Jersey, who graduated with a 3.967 GPA. The Invocation and Benediction were delivered by The Reverend Anita R. Wright, M.Div. Th.M., D.Min., pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Montclair, New Jersey.
A special Distinguished Alumni Association Presidential Award was announced by Alumni Association President Lyle, awarded to John J. Delucca ’66 in recognition of his “outstanding leadership, servant attitude, compassion, generosity and dedication to the students and alumni of Bloomfield College.”
A commemorative video entitled “Celebrating the 150th Commencement” was also shown. President Evans said, “Think about it…the privilege we all have of being a part of this rich history dating back to 1868 in an academic community that since its founding has always respected and joyfully celebrated its cultural diversity. As Bloomfield marks its 150th commencement, we are inspired to look toward the next 150.”
Honorary degree recipients shared motivational remarks applauding the graduates for persevering through the changes brought on by the pandemic, and encouraging them to express appreciation to those in their lives who contributed to making their higher education dreams come true.
CBS News Chief Investigative and Senior National Correspondent James D. Axelrod, who also served as a past member of the Bloomfield College Board of Trustees, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and presented the graduates with an unusual recommendation. He said, “I want you to all go out there – and fail. Because it means you are trying. Because it means you are stepping outside your comfort zone which is where so much of the good stuff happens. Because it means you are challenging yourself which is a necessary ingredient for growth, for the development of new skills.”
Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey, awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws, said “I encourage you to continue the journey to achieve your goals – which may shift and change as you move through different phases of your lives. Be open to change and challenging opportunities. The time has come for you to be the change, and I am certain your education here at Bloomfield College has set you on a course for success wherever life may lead you.”
Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws, said “You guys are pretty strong, incredibly strong. You are the future and each generation is defined by world events...and we don't know how Covid is going to define all of you. But if the indications that we are getting, your perseverance to graduate today is anything to go by, then we know you are going to truly change the world.”
College President Marcheta P. Evans, Ph.D., who became the first female and African-American president of Bloomfield in 2019, imparted a heartfelt message stating, “I have journeyed these last four years with you. I was inaugurated as Bloomfield College’s 17th president in 2019, and your journey has been my journey. Together, our entire College family has lived the effects of the pandemic, the social unrest and the challenging financial circumstances of the College. I am so proud of all of you – and so proud of our institution – because together, we are coming out ahead!”
Montclair State University President Jonathan GS Koppell, whose institution is working toward a planned merger with Bloomfield College, observed that the College has changed how it delivers an education in the past. He said, "When the German Theological Seminary no longer had relevance, it evolved into something better, something more powerful, something more inspirational, something great. I'm confident that [the planned] Bloomfield College of Montclair State University is going to build up on the past and do something even better than what has been done before...the most powerful force in the universe is optimism...don't ever lost that and you will do great things."
The video of the 150th commencement event may be found at this link.
Photo: Bloomfield College awarded three Honorary Doctoral Degrees at its milestone 150th commencement ceremony on May 20, 2023. (Pictured L to R): Journalist James D. Axelrod (Doctor of Humane Letters); Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey (Doctor of Laws); 17th President of Bloomfield College Marcheta P. Evans, Ph.D.; and U.S. Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (Doctor of Laws).