Office of Public Relations
Fairleigh Dickinson University
1000 River Road
Teaneck, NJ 07666
285 Madison Avenue
Madison, NJ 07940
FDU Confers Nearly 2,000 Degrees
Continental CEO Delivers Address
Teaneck, NJ (May 21, 2003)—Amid pomp and circumstance and an array of international flags, Fairleigh Dickinson University conferred nearly 2,000 degrees on graduates at the University’s 60th commencement exercises in Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, NJ on May 21, 2003.
University President J. Michael Adams presided at the ceremony where doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s and associate’s degrees were granted. Continental Airlines Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Gordon Bethune delivered the commencement address.
Speaking to an audience of 10,000 graduates, families and friends, Bethune credited students’ individual efforts and the support of those around them for helping them reach their academic goals.
“But tomorrow is a new day,” Bethune said. “You will be tested and measured in a different way—not by what you know but by what you and your team achieve. To be successful, you’ll need the help of your co-workers. Think of this when you ask yourself, `Why should I help others succeed?’ The people around you will be asking the same question about you. If you share with them and take time to recognize that you didn’t get where you are on your own, you’ll go a lot further.”
Bethune was one of four outstanding individuals who received Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees. The others were award-winning television journalist Brenda Blackmon; renowned British educator and barrister Michael J. Beloff; and foreign-policy spokesman and coordinator for German-American cooperation, Karsten D. Voigt. Stephen Tumminello, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, hooded the honorary degree recipients.
In addition to their degrees, two graduating seniors were honored with the Student Pinnacle Award. The Pinnacle is given annually to a student on each of Fairleigh Dickinson’s campuses who has demonstrated academic excellence, public service, and commitment to the university, and whose efforts reflect the unique character of FDU.
Alaina C. Driscoll— a hotel, restaurant and tourism management major from Branford, CT —represented the College at Florham Campus, Madison, NJ. She was a member of the University Honors Program, and recipient of a Charter Day academic scholarship. During her undergraduate years, she studied abroad at the University’s Wroxton College in England and with the hospitality program in Switzerland.
In accepting her Pinnacle Award, Driscoll contrasted her fellow graduates’ experience with the tradition of students graduating from Cambridge University in England, who "bow before the Vice-Chancellor, who sits high upon a throne. They hold up their hands and beg in Latin for their degree…. This ceremonial rite implies that not all students are worthy of receiving their university degree.
"Today," Driscoll said, "we do not stand before a Vice-Chancellor begging for our degree. We’ve used our academic careers to prove we’ve earned it."
Representing the Metropolitan Campus, Teaneck, NJ, was Pinnacle Award winner Joseph N. McCarron, a communications major from Keansburg, NJ, who received the University Campus Service Grant, Division of Student Affairs Award, University Leadership scholarship, and New Jersey Distinguished Scholar scholarship. Among his many campus activities, McCarron served as general manager of the student radio station and photo editor for the campus newspaper.
McCarron emphasized the contribution of friends and family in the success of the FDU graduates.
"What does this graduation mean to those of you who are here as our guests today?" he said. "It means you did something right…. I probably don’t know 97% of you, but I know there is at least one person on the floor in front of me that thinks the world of you and could not have made it to this magical day without you."
In a surprise announcement at the end of Bethune’s commencement address, four randomly selected graduates received a pair of round-trip Continental Airlines tickets to anywhere that Continental flies in the United States. The lucky recipients were Jeff Todd, Egg Harbor Township, NJ; Mary Stewart, Town Bank, NJ; Reginald Charles, Newark, NJ; and Paul Cheety, Union, NJ.
NOTE: To download photographs of the ceremony, select from a portfolio of photographs.
Press Contact: Gretchen Johnson