Faculty, students, family members and other honored guests celebrated the University’s 80th anniversary of its founding on Wednesday Oct. 9 in Pollak Theatre.
“What a wonderful 80 years,” said President Dr. Paul R Brown. Not only was he celebrating the University’s founding but he was also celebrating his first Founders’ Day as President of the University. He said that he was honored and humbled to be the new president.
The Founders’ Day Convocation Ceremony took place in Pollak Theatre, followed by a reception in Wilson Hall. Prior to the ceremony, faculty members, student leaders and other guests were invited to a lunch in Wilson Hall. During this time, everyone was welcomed by Brown to the University.
The Convocation Address is delivered by a guest selected by the University each year. This year the speaker selected was Mary Ann Christopher, the President and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY).
Christopher spoke to the audience on behalf of VNSNY and went into depth about the history of the University and where it is today. “Pause and reflect on the tradition of Monmouth,” she said.
Christopher was also given an honorary degree during the ceremony. Even though Christopher did not graduate from the University, Carol Stillwell, trustee, presented her with the honor and said, “[You are] officially an alumnus of Monmouth University.” Before Christopher was given her honorary degree, Brown said that she was at the ceremony to “inspire us.”
Christopher said, “… I really just can’t believe that I’m getting this honorary doctorate today and I’m just really humbled. It means everything to me.”
Christopher lives in Avon By The Sea, NJ with her husband and four children. She said that because her home is in Avon By The Sea that most of her career was spent in Monmouth County, therefore, she “[feels] a strong affinity to the county.”
Receiving another award during the Founders’ Day Convocation Ceremony was Brian Hanlon.
Hanlon graduated from the University in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts in Art Education and was the captain of the men’s cross country team, along with being involved in The Outlook and other school activities. He is currently a sculptor with over 300 public and private art pieces.
Two of his sculptures can be found on campus, the “Involved Student” (located in the garden behind Wilson Hall) and the Hawk sculpture (located in front of the Multipurpose Activities Center). “Involved Student” was an inspiration from his wife, Michele Adamkowski, who graduated in 1990 and was a “soccer stand-out” during her college career at the University.
Judith Cerciello, 1996 graduate and trustee, presented Hanlon with the Distinguished Alumni Award and said, “You believe art has the power to heal and transform.”
Hanlon’s speech after receiving his award was more personal and emotional. He said, “By far my greatest creations are my family.” He spoke about his time spent at the University and creating his first sculptor in his dorm room.
When asked how Hanlon felt about receiving this award, he said he was humbled and excited. “This school helped me change my life and the direction of my life …” Hanlon’s daughter Maggie Hanlon is currently a freshman at the University and on the cross country team.
Brown opened the ceremony but Robert Sculthorpe, 1963 graduate and Chair of the Board of Trustees, welcomed the audience attending Founders’ Day. He explained how the University has become strong since Hurricane Sandy and how it helped victims. He continued to say that “80 years may sound like an eternity but [that] makes Monmouth University a young institution.”
Sculthorpe said that things about the University have changed compared to when it was first around but the “important things remained the same.” He also said that he knows those traditional ideals will be nurtured by Brown. “The Monmouth story is still unfolding and the best is yet to be written,” said Sculthorpe.
PHOTO COURTESY of Jim Reme