President's Announcement of 2019 Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipients, 3/20/19.


President’s Announcement of 2019 Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipients, 3/20/19

Dear members of the Drew community,

Spring has arrived and before we know it Commencement will be upon us. The last two months of the school year are always very busy—filled with final assignments and celebratory gatherings. We look forward to every moment, but none more than on Saturday, May 11, when we will congratulate the graduating class of 2019 on the completion of their degrees in the College of Liberal Arts, the Theological School, and the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. Today, I am excited to announce our Commencement speaker and honorary degree recipients.

Commencement Speaker

Christine Todd Whitman

We are pleased to share that former Governor Christine Todd Whitman will deliver the Commencement address. Governor Whitman served in the cabinet of President George W. Bush as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from January of 2001 until June of 2003. She was the 50th governor of New Jersey, serving as the first woman in that role from 1994 until 2001. She is also the author of It’s My Party Too, a New York Times best seller.

Governor Whitman is now the president of The Whitman Strategy Group, a consulting firm that specializes in energy and environmental issues, and serves on the Board of Directors of United Technologies Corp. She also serves a number of nonprofit organizations, including as chairman of the American Security Project and vice chairman of the Trustees of the Eisenhower Fellowships. In addition, she’s a founding member of the Climate Leadership Council and a member of the National Advisory Committees for the Women’s Coalition for Common Sense and the Presidential Climate Action Project.

We are honored to have Governor Whitman deliver her second Drew University Commencement address. She previously spoke at the 1997 ceremony, at which she received an honorary degree.

Honorary Degree Recipients

The Drew University Board of Trustees has voted to confer the following outstanding individuals with honorary degrees at this year’s Commencement ceremony.

Bishop Karen Oliveto

We are proud to confer a Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, upon Karen Oliveto, a bishop in the United Methodist Church and graduate of both the College of Liberal Arts and the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies.

Bishop Oliveto, who also taught at Drew Theological School from 2012 to 2014, is the first openly gay person to be elected bishop of the United Methodist Church. The region she oversees, the Mountain Sky Episcopal Area, comprises 400 churches in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Utah and one church in Idaho.

Previously, Bishop Oliveto, who earned a bachelor’s, master’s and PhD from Drew, was the senior pastor of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco. She was the first woman to become senior pastor at Glide, the fifth largest United Methodist congregation in the United States.

Dean Criares

We are pleased to confer upon Dean Criares a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. Mr. Criares is the outgoing chair of the Drew University Board of Trustees and a 1985 alumnus. He joined the Board in 2004 and became chair in 2012. During his tenure, the University appointed MaryAnn Baenninger as its 13th and first permanent female president, celebrated the Nobel Prize in Medicine earned by longtime science Fellow William Campbell, raised $85.4 million in its One and All campaign, lowered tuition by 20 percent, and welcomed the largest first-year class in seven years.

In addition, Mr. Criares was instrumental in forging an international education partnership with INTO—resulting in Drew being ranked 15th nationally for the number of international students at baccalaureate colleges—and establishing an NCAA golf program for women and men. And while he is stepping down as chair, we are delighted that he will remain a trustee.

Mr. Criares, who also holds an MBA from Columbia University, is the co-founder of the private credit management firm Sound Harbor Partners and a former senior managing director of The Blackstone Group.

I look forward to welcoming our 2019 graduates and their families, our honored guests and our speaker to Commencement on May 11 at 10:30 a.m.

Best wishes,