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Christine Todd Whitman to Speak at Drew Commencement

Led the EPA and was first female governor of New Jersey.

March 2019 – Christine Todd Whitman, former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and governor of New Jersey, will speak at Drew University’s 2019 Commencement in May.

Whitman served in the cabinet of President George W. Bush as administrator of the EPA from January of 2001 until June of 2003. She was the 50th governor of New Jersey—and the first woman in that role—from 1994 until 2001. She’s also the author of It’s My Party Too, a New York Times best seller.

Whitman is now 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 Presidential Climate Action Project.

Whitman’s Commencement address will be her second at Drew. She also spoke at the 1997 ceremony, at which she received an honorary degree. 

At Commencement 2019, Drew will also award two honorary degrees—to Karen Oliveto, a bishop in the United Methodist Church and graduate of both Drew and its Caspersen School of Graduate Studies, and Dean Criares, the outgoing chair of its Board of Trustees and a 1985 alumnus.

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 some 400 churches in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Utah and one church in Idaho.

Previously, 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 U.S.

Criares joined the board in 2004 and became chair in 2012. On his watch, 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.

Criares was also 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, he will remain a trustee.

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

Commencement will take place May 11, beginning at 10:30 a.m. The ceremony celebrates the graduation of hundreds of students in Drew’s College of Liberal Arts, Theological School and Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. Other speakers include the president, board chair and students.

About Drew

Drew University, a Phi Beta Kappa liberal arts university, includes the College of Liberal Arts, the Drew Theological School and the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. Drew is located on a beautiful, wooded, 186-acre campus in Madison, New Jersey, a thriving small town close to New York City. It has total enrollment of more than 2,000 students and 148 full-time faculty members, 99% of whom hold the terminal degree in their field. The Theological and Caspersen schools offer MA and PhD degrees and the College of Liberal Arts confers BA degrees in more than 30 disciplines.

Drew is dedicated to exceptional faculty mentorship, a commitment to connecting the campus with the community and a focus on experiential learning, as exemplified by Launch, a new, leading edge path to undergraduate education that syncs career development with rigorous academics and powerful community. Particularly noteworthy opportunities for undergraduates include the Charles A. Dana Research Institute for Scientists Emeriti (RISE), home of 2015 Nobel Prize Winner for Medicine and Drew Fellow William Campbell, the Drew Summer Science Institute (DSSI), the Center for Civic Engagement, New York City Semesters focusing on Wall Street, the United Nations, Contemporary Art, Theatre, Social Entrepreneurship and Communications and Media and several international semester programs. Drew also houses the Center on Religion, Culture & Conflict, the Center for Holocaust/Genocide Study and The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, an independent professional theater, as well as the United Methodist Archives and History Center and one of the country’s leading concentrations of materials on Willa Cather.