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139th Commencement (2012)

Bloomfield College 139th Commencement Exercises

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nurses’ Pinning

2:00 p.m.
Robert V. Van Fossan Theatre
63 Fremont Street, Bloomfield, NJ

Reception to follow in Westminster Arts Center, Room 110


4:30 p.m.
Robert V. Van Fossan Theatre
63 Fremont Street, Bloomfield, NJ

Reception to follow in Westminster Arts Center, Room 110

Thursday, May 24, 2012

139th Commencement

9:30 a.m.
College Quadrangle

2012 Honorary Degree Recipients

S. Jervis Brinton, Jr.
Philanthropist, Past Vice Chair of the Bloomfield College Board of Trustees, and Founder of Brinton Eaton Wealth Advisors

Mary Jo Codey
Former First Lady of New Jersey,
Teacher and Women’s Health Advocate

Jeh Charles Johnson, Esq.
General Counsel,
U.S. Department of Defense

William E. Strickland, Jr.
President/CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation and its subsidiaries,
Social Architect, Community Leader and Visionary

Pun Bandhu - Baccalaureate Speaker
Award Winning Actor
Two-Time Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

S. Jervis Brinton, Jr.
Doctor of Laws, honoris causa

S. Jervis Brinton Jr., was a gracious gentleman and a generous contributor to the Morris County and New Jersey philanthropic and business community and a great friend of Bloomfield College. For over 60 years, Jervis served as the leader, chairman, and visionary of many organizations. He was a founding partner and chairman of Brinton Eaton Associates in Madison, N.J., a former executive vice president of Midlantic National Bank, and a founding director of Red Oak Bank. He also served as president of the Midlantic National Bank and Trust Company in Florida. Jervis chaired the Fannie E. Rippel Foundation and the Marcus L. Ward Home/Winchester Gardens, the Kessler Rehabilitation Corp., NJN public television, and the Morris Museum. He served as a trustee of the Morristown Memorial Hospital Foundation. As a trustee at Bloomfield College, he was chair of the Committee on Development and Public Affairs, vice chair of the Executive Committee, and a member of the Audit Committee, the Compensation Committee, the Financial Affairs and Capital Projects Committee, the Investment Sub-Committee, and the Committee on Trusteeship. He received the Henry H. Kessler Human Dignity Award in 1996.

Upon graduating from Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia, he left for Williams College to join the class of 1946. He left Williams College to enlist in the U.S. Army. He was stationed in England during World War II and, following the war, he returned to Williams, where he earned his bachelor’s degree, accompanied by his new bride, Helen Baker of Kentucky. Jervis subsequently earned his M.B.A. from New York University and attended Seton Hall Law School.

A lifelong Quaker, he demonstrated those values throughout his personal and public life, including humility, compassion for others, civic engagement and generosity, education, and dedication to family. An avid sailor, tennis player, and golfer, Jervis enthusiastically maintained an active intellectual and physical life. He was a longtime member of the Morris Golf Club, Baltusrol Golf Club, the Stone Harbor and Lavallette yacht clubs, and the Morristown Club.

Jervis was predeceased by Helen, his wife of 52 years. He married Antonia “Toni” Marotta in 1998. Their combined families totaled eight children and 18 grandchildren. Both Jervis and Toni were active in Partners in Philanthropy, sharing a mutual passion for supporting nonprofit organizations.

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Mary Jo Cody
Doctor of Laws, honoris causa

Mary Jo Codey, First Lady of New Jersey from November 2004 to January 2006, is a gifted educator and a staunch advocate for individuals whose lives have been affected by mental illness or breast cancer. A lifelong resident of New Jersey, she is married to the state’s 53rd governor, Richard J. Codey—who continues to serve in the New Jersey Senate, as he has since 1981.   

Personal experiences with both clinical depression and breast cancer make Mrs. Codey uniquely qualified to speak out on both of these serious health concerns.

As New Jersey’s First Lady, she welcomed the opportunity to advocate on behalf of the Governor’s newly created Task Force on Mental Health. Having suffered from postpartum depression, Mrs. Codey helped launch a ground-breaking statewide campaign that raised awareness of PPD and offered education and resources to women, their families, and healthcare professionals.  The campaign—“Recognizing Postpartum Depression:  Speak Up When You’re Down”—featured the First Lady in radio and TV spots. The Codeys also played a key role in the passage of New Jersey’s groundbreaking Postpartum Depression Screening and Education law, which took effect in October 2006.  Mrs. Codey has been tireless in sharing her story through public appearances and interviews to raise awareness about PPD, encourage other women to seek treatment, and help secure passage of a national law.  She has made several trips to Capitol Hill in support of the Melanie Blocker-Stokes MOTHERS Act, sponsored by Representative Bobby Rush (IL) and Senators Robert Menendez (NJ), Richard Durbin (IL), and Olympia Snowe.  In 2008, her efforts were recognized with the Welcome Back Lifetime Achievement Award from Eli Lilly and this past May the Melanie Blocker-Stokes MOTHERS Act was passed into law and signed by President Obama as part of health insurance reform.

A second focus of Mrs. Codey’s efforts as First Lady was breast cancer.  A breast-cancer survivor who lost her mother to the disease, she helped launch a statewide fundraising campaign in support of breast-cancer awareness and has been active in stressing the importance of early detection. 

Looking back on her 14 months as the state’s First Lady, she has said:  “I wanted to take all negative things that have happened in my life and what I’ve learned from them and put that hard-won knowledge to use in helping others in similar situations.  I had a limited window of opportunity to make a difference, and I tried to make the most of it!”

As a volunteer, Mrs. Codey has contributed to a wide variety of causes.  She is currently a member of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) and the President’s Advisory Council of Postpartum Support International.  A former member of the board of directors of the Mental Health Association of Essex County, she also pioneered a PPD support group that began at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in 1994 and continues to help women and their families today.

Mrs. Codey received a master’s degree in elementary education—with certification as a learning disabilities teacher- consultant—from Seton Hall University.  She currently teaches at an elementary school in West Orange.

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Jeh Charles Johnson, Esq.
Doctor of Laws, honoris causa

Jeh Charles Johnson was appointed General Counsel of the Department of Defense on February 10, 2009, following nomination and confirmation by the U. S. Senate.  In this capacity, he serves as the chief legal officer of the Department of Defense and the legal adviser to the Secretary of Defense.

Mr. Johnson’s legal career has been a mixture of private practice and distinguished public service.  He began his career in public service as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he prosecuted public corruption cases.  From 1989-1991, as a federal prosecutor, Mr. Johnson tried 12 cases and argued 11 appeals.

He built upon his early career as an Assistant United States Attorney to become a successful trial lawyer in private practice at the New York City-based law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP.  While at Paul Weiss, he personally tried some of the highest stakes commercial cases of modern times, for corporate clients such as Armstrong World Industries, Citigroup and Salomon Smith Barney.  In 2004, Mr. Johnson was elected a Fellow in the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers.

In October 1998, President Clinton appointed Mr. Johnson to be General Counsel of the Department of the Air Force following nomination and confirmation by the Senate.  He served in that position for 27 months and returned to private law practice at Paul Weiss in January 2001.

While in private practice, Mr. Johnson was active in numerous civil and professional activities.  From 2001-2004, he chaired the Judiciary Committee of the New York City Bar Association, which rates and approves all the federal, state, and local judges in New York City.  Mr. Johnson is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and was a director or trustee of Adelphi University, the Federal Bar Council, the New York Community Trust, the Fund for Modern Courts, the Legal Aid Society, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the New York City Bar Fund, Inc., the Vera Institute, the New York Hall of Science and the Film Society of Lincoln Theater.  He was also on the Board of Governors of the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.

Following the 2008 presidential election, Mr. Johnson served on President-elect Obama’s transition team, and was then publicly designated by Mr. Obama for nomination to the position of General Counsel of the Department of Defense on January 8, 2009, followed by formal nomination on January 20, 2009, and confirmation by the Senate on February 9, 2009.

Mr. Johnson is a member in good standing of the Bars of New York State and the District of Columbia.

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William E. Strickland, Jr.
Doctor of Laws, honoris causa

Bill Strickland is the President and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation and its subsidiaries, Manchester Craftsmen's Guild (MCG), and Bidwell Training Center (BTC).

Strickland is nationally recognized as a visionary leader who authentically delivers educational and cultural opportunities to students and adults within an organizational culture that fosters innovation, creativity, responsibility and integrity.

Throughout Strickland's distinguished career, he has been honored with numerous prestigious awards for his contributions to the arts and the community, including the coveted MacArthur “Genius” award.

Bill Strickland grew up in Manchester, an inner-city neighborhood of Pittsburgh. His life changed when he became inspired by high school art teacher Frank Ross, a skilled artisan on the potter's wheel. The relationship that Ross and Strickland initiated with a revolving mound of clay gave form to the future vision of Manchester Craftsmen's Guild. The Guild began as an after-school arts program in a donated North Side row house that Strickland secured while still a student at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1969, he graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in American history and foreign relations.

The decline of the steel industry created widespread unemployment, and Bidwell Training Center addressed the problem by offering vocational training to displaced and underemployed workers. Due to Strickland's successful track record with MCG, he was asked to assume leadership of BTC and guide its transition to providing skills relevant to Pittsburgh's emerging market economy. Strickland's involvement in both MCG and BTC doubled the strength of Manchester Bidwell Corporation's ability to help the community. He envisioned a template for social change, and began to form relationships with businesses, government officials, and individuals who shared his vision.

Today, Manchester Bidwell Corporation has evolved into a national model for education, culture and hope. MCG Youth & Arts and MCG Jazz are both programs of Manchester Craftsmen's Guild: MCG Youth serves approximately 3,900 youth each year through classes and workshops in ceramics, photography, digital imaging and design art. MCG Arts gives students a chance to work intensively with national and international visiting artists through exhibitions, lectures, workshops, residencies and school visits. MCG Jazz is dedicated to preserving, promoting and presenting jazz music by bringing in jazz artists at its music hall in Pittsburgh for innovative four-day performances and recordings and is an anchor of Pittsburgh's cultural and community life. Bidwell Training Center provides market-driven career education created through strong partnerships with leading local industries. The center offers accredited associates degree and diploma programs in fields as varied as culinary arts, chemical laboratory technologies, health careers, horticulture, and office technology.

Manchester Bidwell Corporation is a business model that works so well, Bill Strickland is replicating the Manchester Bidwell enterprise throughout the country.

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Baccalaurate Speaker
Pun Bandhu

Pun Bandhu is an award-winning actor and two-time Tony Award-winning Broadway producer. He graduated with his MFA in acting from the Yale School of Drama and has appeared on Broadway, off Broadway and at regional theaters across the country. He has a special interest in new work and has originated roles in world-premiere plays by playwrights such as Theresa Rebeck, AR Gurney, John Pielmiere and David Henry Hwang among others. In 2010, he received the Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Play. He has guest starred and co-starred in roles on TV shows such as Body of Proof, Without a Trace, White Collar, Nurse Jackie, and all Law and Orders (including Conviction). In movies he can be seen in Michael Clayton, Burn After Reading and the upcoming Two Days in New York starring Chris Rock (summer 2012).

As a producer, Pun has started his own theatre company, a shorts film festival, and as a partner in ZenDog Productions, has produced two Tony Award-winning projects on Broadway, GlenGarry Glen Ross (Best Play Revival 2005) and Spring Awakening (Best Musical, 2007). Spring Awakening also won the Drama Desk Award, Lucille Lortel Award, Outer Critics Circle Award and New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, toured the US for two years, and has been translated and seen in over 40 productions around the world. In addition to Broadway, ZenDog Productions has also been involved in productions in London, most recently with the first revival of Fiddler on the Roof. Pun was given the Star of Asia award by the Austin Asian American Chamber of Commerce and was honored at the New York Musical Theatre Festival Gala as one of "The Next Generation of Broadway Producers." He is a frequent speaker on theatre and marketing panels, is called upon to adjudicate festivals and competitions, and has been featured in periodicals such as Variety, The New York Times, American Theatre and Fast Company.

Bloomfield College celebrates the Class of 2012

Bloomfield College graduated 266 students, making history with eight of those graduating with a Master of Science in Accounting, the College’s first master’s program on Thursday, May 24, 2012. The rain held off until most were under the tent erected on the Quad and the ceremony was punctuated with sounds of thunder, although it hardly damped the spirits of the graduates and their families and friends.

Those earning an honorary Doctor of Laws were the late S. Jervis Brinton, former trustee and philanthropist whose widow Antonia Marotta Brinton accepted on his behalf; Mary Jo Codey, former first lady of New Jersey, teacher and women’s health advocate; Jeh Charles Johnson, Esq., general counsel for the U.S. Department of Defense; and William E. Strickland Jr., president and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, social architect, community leader, and visionary. Each recipient brought a poignant message to the graduating class.

Led up Liberty Street by the South Park and District Pipes and Drums, the students marched through the lines of faculty on either side of the street as is the tradition of congratulating the students for their successes.

Mrs. Brinton, upon accepting the doctoral hood and degree, told the audience that her husband would have loved this. She said that her husband’s most redeeming characteristics were his patience, compassion, and ability to listen. “He referred to Bloomfield College as a jewel and he truly loved this place, especially commencement,” she said. “He enjoyed seeing the success of Bloomfield College students.”

Mrs. Codey told the graduates that she had discovered service through adversity. As a survivor of both post-partum depression and breast cancer, she used her public face to encouraged women through education and public service to tackle both these issues. Her advice to the graduating class was that family, friends, and faith can help through anything. “Never be afraid to ask for help and be aware of those around you who may need your help,” she said.

Mr. Johnson talked about service to country and related the stories of military personnel who have served recently in conflicts around the world. He spoke of selfless service to others and of those with humility who do not seek fame for their actions.

Mr. Strickland spoke of the hope education gives to those to whom it is not easily afforded. “People come to our center because it offers them education and a way to achieve,” he said. “My hope is that you will join me in my work for a better world as you are uniquely qualified to do so.”

Martin McKerrow, chair of the Bloomfield College Board of Trustees challenged the graduates to speak up and make their voices heard. “Speak up for what you believe in and speak for those who do not have a voice,” he said. He welcomed two foreign dignitaries whose organizations collaborate with Bloomfield College for global educational opportunities. Dr. Luis Cervantes is the rector of the Universidad Inca Garcilaso de la Vega in Peru, and Mrs. Eui-jeong Jeong, is the director of Foreign Language Training, Incheon Education Training Institute, Korean Ministry of Education.

Each student marched across the dais to receive their hood and their diploma to the applause of the audience. One degree was awarded posthumously to Richard Moody, a nursing student who had passed away earlier in the year. His hood and diploma were received by his daughter Lori Jeane Moody.

To view photos, click here: Commencement 2012    

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