Single-file to the Podium, Please

Monmouth University will celebrate its Spring 2015 Commencement Ceremony at the PNC Center in Holmdel, New Jersey on Wednesday, May 20. 

While the graduating members of The Outlook are excited, nervous and every emotion in between, most of the staffers feel indifferent about the University’s choice of a speaker. 

Brad Eric Scheler, Esq., a senior partner and Chair of the bankruptcy and restructuring department of the global law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson was announced as the Commencement speaker by President Brown on April 20. 

One staffer said, “I am definitely not trying to knock his credentials and successes. He has accomplished so much in his career, and we can and should not criticize him for that; however, as far as speaking at Commencement, I’m not sure he was the absolute best choice. Maybe I’m wrong and his speech will completely and utterly blow me away and inspire me to be the best graduate ever, but I really was hoping for someone a tad more relateable and inspiring to us as graduates of Monmouth University.”

Another editor said, “I’ve never heard of him, I’ve never heard of the position that he holds, nor have I ever heard of the law firm that he works for, which does not necessarily make for a memorable ceremony.”

One editor rebutted, “Well, maybe you should do your homework.”

To some extent, a few of The Outlook editors believe that this may have been a last resort pick. Scheler is a member of Lehigh’s Board of Trustees, the same school from which President Paul Brown hailed as the Dean of the Business School.

“It would be more memorable to hear a really well-known or well-liked speaker. Plus it’s a five hour process, so at least it needs to be enjoyable and motivational,” said one editor.

In comparison to other universities, Rutgers will be welcoming Bill Nye the Science Guy as their speaker, as well as Jon Bon Jovi. Kean University was supposed to have hip-hop artist Common attend, but due to a controversy surrounding a 15-year-old song, has been yanked, according to businessinsider.com.

“Rutgers and Kean seem to know what students want and what students need to truly hear at a commencement ceremony. They want to hear an engaging speech, an entertaining one, and something that completely inspires us to take on the ‘adult-world,’” said one staffer.

Another editor noted, however, that the Winter Commencement speaker for Monmouth University seemed to blow away the graduates and everyone in attendance. “Former NFL player Myron Rolle delivered an incredibly moving speech. Although I wasn’t particularly familiar with his background, his speech was just… wow. Breath-taking, to say the least. The University knocked it out of the park with that one, and I’m hoping that this newly elected speaker has the same affect on me.”

The editorial board did, however, offer some potential suggestions for future graduation commencement speakers. Ellen DeGeneres, according to one editor, gives both hilarious and insightful speeches for outgoing classes. Another editor suggested that Mark Zuckerberg, one of the co-founders of social media site Facebook, also would be of interest, considering he was a college dropout and might have a different perspective on graduation. Additionally, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show (and New Jersey native) was noted as being able to deliver, as well as Bruce Springsteen.

“As much as I’d love to see these high-profile celebrities, I can only imagine the price it would cost to hire one of them to speak,” one staffer said.

According to nj.com, Rutgers will pay Bill Nye a $35,000 speaking fee, “though university officials said they do not know if he plans to keep the fee or donate it to the university, as some previous speakers have.”

One editor suggested some more reasonable fiscal choices. He/she said, “I would love Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, stars of the web-series Broad City, or Brandon Stanton, the creator of Humans of New York. All three of these people seem to have a really great understanding of how to grab the attention of an audience, and they’re all fairly well-known among young people.”

“After working and grinding for a solid four years here at the University, I think we deserve an incredible speaker,” said one editor.

Another editor advised, “I honestly don’t think we should be complaining about the speaker. He might completely blow us away. Let’s not be negative. Let’s not send any negative vibes out there. We are graduating. This is our moment to live and prosper and enjoy all of our hard work.”

Beyond mixed reviews about the commencement speaker, The Outlook staffers were incredibly positive about their overall Monmouth experience. Positive, happy, rewarding and unforgettable were all recurring adjectives used by the editorial staff to describe their time at Monmouth University.

“I am so very grateful for all of the opportunities that were presented to me during my four years here, and I honestly thank Monmouth for molding me into the person that I am today. Commencement is one small step for me, and one big leap for my future,” said one staffer.