Corzine, Vincent to receive honorary degrees at graduation

In addition to the bachelor’s degrees for the Sesquicentennial Class of 2005 and master’s degrees for graduate students, two honorary degrees will be distributed at Commencement on May 13. The recipients of the honorary degrees will be Sen. Jon Corzine and retired Philadelphia Eagles cornerback and Trenton native Troy Vincent.

Corzine and Vincent were selected from the several nominees that the senior class officers provided.

Before 2003, speakers chosen to attend graduation only came to deliver a speech. Now, the speakers receive honorary degrees, making them a part of the College’s community.

According to Mary-Elaine Perry, vice president of Student Life, the College invites speakers who are not only well-recognized, but are inspirational, committed to their community and have ties with New Jersey.

“We try to get a balance,” Perry said.

Both Perry and College President R. Barbara Gitenstein are pleased with the variety Corzine and Vincent, two very different, but equally influential people, will provide.

“Sen. Corzine and Troy Vincent are excellent examples of leaders who care about the communities that they serve,” Gitenstein said. “Our College mission focuses on just these qualities as values that we seek to instill in the students who graduate.”

“They both have something different to offer the institution,” Perry said.

Elected in 2000 to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate, Corzine has contributed to the local and national community by securing federal funds, protecting the environment in New Jersey and defending the state’s senior citizens.

According to his Web site, Corzine has also secured more than $350 million to help New Jersey recover from the Sept. 11 attacks.

Corzine also helped protect college students from student aid cuts and maintain the Federal Pell Grant. Because of his contributions, the United States Students Association gave him the Friends of Students Award in 2004.

“The senator has not only contributed to the State of New Jersey, but he contributed to my home city, Newark,” Qiyana Brown, senior special education major, said. “He helped get the city of Newark funding for gang awareness and teen violence.”

“He is a person who deserves the honorary degree for all his time and dedication to the State of New Jersey,” Pedro Khoury, senior communications studies major and executive president of the Student Government Association, said.

Vincent, a 14-year veteran of the NFL whose hometown is Trenton, is recognized for both his philanthropic and business achievements.

He has received awards such as the 2003 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for community service and football excellence, the 2003 Philadelphia Sports Fans’ Choice Award for Humanitarian of the Year and the 2003 Byron “Whizzer” White Award from the NFL Players Association for leadership.

Vincent will also be given the Bart Starr Award by Athletes in Action.

This award goes to an NFL player “who exemplifies outstanding character in the home, on the field and in the community,” according to the College’s Web site.

Some students have said they don’t know much about Vincent but are eager to learn.

“Most people know him as just a football player,” Dave Wetzel, junior journalism major, said. “I didn’t realize he has done so much for the community too.”

Both Corzine and Vincent will be asked to make short remarks upon receiving their honorary degrees at Commencement.