NJCU to Honor Classes of 2020 and 2021 in Double Commencement Ceremony on June 15

June 9, 2021

JERSEY CITY, N.J. | New Jersey City University (NJCU) will award more than 1,800 doctoral, graduate, and undergraduate degrees in a double ceremony during its 2021 Commencement exercises on Tuesday, June 15 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. NJCU will honor graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 during a fully in-person ceremony.

The first ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. and will include graduates from the School of Business and the College of Professional Studies. The second ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. and include graduates from the William J. Maxwell College of Arts and Sciences and Deborah Cannon Partridge Wolfe College of Education.

Kenneth I. Chenault, Chairman and a Managing Director of the venture capital firm, General Catalyst, and former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of American Express Company, and Jack Ford, an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning journalist, respected educator, documentary producer, prominent trial attorney, and author will receive honorary doctorate degrees. Chenault will speak during the 9 a.m. ceremony and Ford will address the graduates during the 1 p.m. session. [See biographic profile below.]

Evelyn Padin, President of the New Jersey State Bar Association and a Trustee of the Hudson County Bar Association of New Jersey will receive the Presidential Medallion.

NJCU President Sue Henderson will preside over the commencement ceremony, while Rafael Perez, chair of the NJCU Board of Trustees, will convey greetings from the trustees. NJCU will also honor representatives of its milestone 50th anniversary class of 1971 and 25th anniversary class of 1996.

The ceremonies will celebrate students receiving their degrees in 2020, January 2021, May 2021, and August 2021.

The ceremony may be viewed live at: https://www.youtube.com/user/NJCUTUBE

Additionally, each ceremony will have its own direct viewing link:

1 p.m. https://youtu.be/EJ1elhcwbDk

Biographical Profile of Honorary Degree Recipients

Kenneth I. Chenault

Ken Chenault commencement speaker headshot

Kenneth I. Chenault is the Chairman and a Managing Director of the venture capital firm, General Catalyst. As a managing director of the firm, he focuses on investing in fast-growing companies that have the potential to become large, fundamental institutions. He also provides invaluable guidance to portfolio companies, particularly to those with an eye towards global markets and responsible innovation, as they scale their teams and products. As chairman, Chenault leverages his renowned leadership abilities and experience to continue to evolve General Catalyst into a formidable and enduring firm.

Prior to joining General Catalyst, Chenault was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of American Express Company, a position he held from 2001 to 2018. He joined American Express in 1981 as Director of Strategic Planning and served subsequently in a number of increasingly senior positions, including Vice Chairman and President and Chief Operating Officer, until his appointment as CEO. Under his leadership, American Express built one of the world’s largest customer loyalty programs – Membership Rewards – and earned global recognition as a leader in customer service. Upon Chenault’s retirement from American Express, Warren Buffett, the company’s largest shareholder stated, “Ken's been the gold standard for corporate leadership and the benchmark that I measure others against.”

Chenault is recognized as one of the business world’s experts on brands and brand management. He has been honored by multiple publications including Fortune Magazine, which named him as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders in its inaugural list in 2014. 

Chenault serves on the boards of Airbnb, Berkshire Hathaway, Chief, Guild Education, and the Harvard Corporation. He is a co-founder of OneTen, a coalition of leading executives coming together to upskill, hire and advance one million Black Americans over the next 10 years into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement. He also serves on the Board of Governors of the NCAA. Chenault is on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations, including the Smithsonian Institution’s Advisory Council for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Human Centered Artificial Intelligence Institute Advisory Council at Stanford University. He also serves on the board of trustees for NYU Langone Health.

Chenault holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a B.A. in history from Bowdoin College. He has also received honorary degrees from several universities and awards from a wide variety of civic, social service, and community organizations.

He and his wife, Kathryn, live in New York City, and they have two sons.

Jack Ford

Jack Ford commencement speaker headshot

An Emmy and Peabody Award-winning journalist, respected educator, documentary producer, prominent trial attorney, and author, Jack Ford has had a unique and remarkably successful career. Raised by a single parent — herself an alumna of Jersey City State Teacher’s College, now NJCU —  his journey has taken him from a small town in New Jersey to Yale University, where he was a scholarship student and three-year starter on the varsity football team, to the Fordham University School of Law, where he helped finance his legal education with winnings from three appearances on the television quiz show “Jeopardy,” to courtrooms and classrooms throughout the country, and, ultimately, to the upper echelons of television journalism.

Currently a host of Metro Focus on PBS (WNET-New York) and most recently a CBS News Correspondent for 60 Minutes Sports, he was also the co-founder and chief anchor of the digital network American Ed TV and is a consultant for the NCAA. Ford began his television news career in 1984 with WCBS-TV in New York. In 1991, he was an original anchor at the launch of Court TV. He also appeared in Fred Friendly’s award-winning PBS Media and Society broadcasts, serving as Moderator for That Delicate Balance II: The Bill of Rights.

In 1994, Ford joined NBC News as Chief Legal Correspondent, reporting on major legal stories for NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, and Dateline. In addition, he was the co-anchor for the Weekend Today Show and a substitute anchor for Weekend Nightly News and Meet the Press. Ford joined ABC News in 1999 as an anchor/correspondent for 20/20, Good Morning America, and World News Tonight. In 2002, he anchored the ESPN show, The Sports Reporters II. During 2003-2004, he hosted a nationally syndicated morning show for CBS TV/King World before returning to Court TV in 2005 as the host of Courtside. From 2009-2014, he served as a CBS News Legal Analyst. He has also provided college football game commentary for ESPN, the YES Network, and the American Sports Network.

Prior to embarking on his journalism career, Ford was a prosecutor in New Jersey before entering private practice. He became a prominent trial attorney, successfully handling such high-profile cases as the Northeast’s first death penalty trial, one of the nation’s first corporate homicide trials, and the Wall Street insider trading scandal of the late 1980s. During his legal career, he served as an adjunct professor at the Fordham University School of Law. He has been a Visiting lecturer at Yale University since 2007, and has also taught at New York University, Monmouth University, and the University of Virginia. In 2017, he served as a Lead Scholar for the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and speaks frequently at colleges and universities, nationally and internationally. He is the author of three novels: The Osiris Alliance (2009); The Walls of Jericho (2013); and Chariot on the Mountain (2018).

Ford’s television journalism work has been recognized with several honors, including three Emmy Awards, a George Foster Peabody Award, three National Cable Television Awards, an MCCJ National Headliner Award, and the March of Dimes FDR Award. In 1997, he received an NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, which is presented to former outstanding college athletes who have achieved distinction in their professional lives. In 1998, Mr. Ford was honored with a “National Father of the Year Award,” and in 2009 he was a recipient of Yale University’s highest athletic honor, the “George H.W. Bush Lifetime of Leadership Award.” And in a somewhat unusual accolade, he was named People Magazine’s “Sexiest News Anchor” in 1999.

Ford has been awarded five honorary degrees, recognizing his professional accomplishments and his extensive public service work. He has served as spokesperson, host and/or board member for a number of charitable causes and organizations, including the Cancer Support Community, the Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (North Jersey chapter), the Alzheimer’s Association, the N.J. Special Olympics, the Jimmy V Foundation, the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, the Ivy League Football Association, the NCAA Honors Committee, the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions, Meridian Health System, Monmouth University, and Yale University.

Ford resides in Spring Lake, N.J. with his wife, Dorothy. They have two children, Dr. Ashley Ford Haggerty and Colin Ford.

Biographical Profile of Presidential Medallion Recipient

Evelyn Padin

Evelyn Padin Commencement Speaker

Evelyn Padin is the first Latina to serve as an officer of the New Jersey State Bar Association, an organization that has over 17,000 members. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree at Rutgers University, a Master of Social Work at Fordham University, and her Juris Doctor degree from Seton Hall University School of Law.

The current president of the New Jersey State Bar Association, she also serves as a Trustee of the Hudson County Bar Association of New Jersey. She formerly served as a Municipal Court Judge of the City of Jersey City and also served as In-House Counsel for the Office of Landlord-Tenant Relations with the City of Jersey City. She is a member of the Hispanic Bar Association and is a founding member of the Justice Virginia Long Family Inns of Court. In addition, Padin sits on the Family Law Executive Committee as a Representative of Hudson County for the New Jersey State Bar Association and has served as a panelist on many continuing legal education seminars.

About NJCU

New Jersey City University is an institution of higher learning with an audacious goal: the development of our students, our city, our communities, our state, and the world beyond. We are a game-changing force for our students and their families. Whether our students are enrolled in one of our 50 undergraduate, 28 graduate or three doctoral programs, NJCU provides an affordable, diverse environment, and an exceptionally supportive faculty—all of which prepares them to be critical thinkers in a global landscape.

We’re also changing the game for our city, our communities, and our state. As the educational anchor institution in Jersey City, we’ve established partnerships to ensure the area’s growth directly benefits our students and community members. We seek to improve the lives of everyone in the Garden State, whether creating a home for the arts, bringing educational programs to K-12 students, offering bachelor’s degrees in partnership with community colleges, or providing professional development opportunities for adults.

At NJCU, we’re not just educating minds, we’re nourishing souls and lifting communities. We’re changing the game.


Ira Thor
, Senior Director of University Communications and Media Relations | ithor@njcu.edu | 201-200-3301

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