It’s been a remarkable 12 months for Rutgers.
In May, President Barack Obama punctuated Rutgers’ yearlong 250th birthday celebration, becoming the first sitting president to deliver the university’s Commencement Day address.
A series of memorable activities throughout the year focused the university community on students, faculty, staff and administrators of the distant past and the present whose special achievements greatly impacted and enriched the Rutgers legacy.
Now, the university is set for a powerful conclusion to the memorable year: A Day of Revolutionary Thinking. On November 10 – its actual 250th birthday – Rutgers is hosting a group of notable alumni, who will present talks in New Brunswick and Piscataway. These talks will transfer the knowledge gained by these distinguished graduates to current Rutgers students, who will in turn become the alumni and world leaders of tomorrow.
Rutgers’ special guests include a former White House executive pastry chef, a cybersecurity CEO, a New Jersey Supreme Court associate justice, a physician who was at the forefront of the treatment of pediatric HIV/AIDS and a punk rocker. They are among 80 notable Rutgers alumni from across the globe who were nominated by faculty members who invited them to share their diverse points of view with students and to demonstrate how learning at Rutgers contributed to their successes.
The lineup of invited alumni presenters in New Brunswick, highlighting Rutgers’ global reach, includes Ella Watson-Stryker, honored by TIME magazine as a 2014 Person of the Year for her work as a frontline responder with Doctors Without Borders during the Ebola crisis in West Africa; Kagendo Murungi, a Brooklyn-based Kenyan filmmaker, producer and writer with a background in international sexual and gender rights advocacy; and Michelle Dickinson, a senior lecturer in engineering at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, known as “Nanogirl” in her live science show for children.
When seeking alumni leaders to speak to his class, Louis Masur in the Rutgers University-New Brunswick Department of American Studies sought graduates who exemplify the versatility of an American Studies degree. His two invitees run the gamut: Shane Myers, director for immigration and visa security for the National Security Council, and Lenny Kaye, a pioneering punk rock guitarist and composer, known for his work with the Patti Smith Group.
Myers will explore what it means to be “America,” and not just “American” while abroad in his presentation “America Abroad – Diplomatic Reflections.” “How other countries perceive America is a particularly timely issue,” says Masur. “Myers’ long experience in the State Department as a diplomat will open up that discussion.”
In his presentation, “Rock and Roll and Rutgers,” Kaye will perform musical storytelling to transport the audience into his personal world of rock music from the 1960s to today.
“The take-aways from the talks are for students to pursue their passions,” Masur says. “Come to school, learn how to think, acquire skills and then see where the journey takes you.”
The School of Communication and Information hosts a panel of broadcast journalists who will discuss, among other topics, the presidential election and the changing face of journalism. The journalists include Mike Emanuel, who covers Hillary Clinton’s campaign; FOX correspondent Rich Edson; CBS Newspath correspondent Wendy Gillette; CBS News producer Sean Herbert; and NBC senior talent coordinator Jessica Kurdali.
William Yosses, the White House’s executive pastry chef from 2007 to 2014 who earned a master’s degree in French at Rutgers, will give a chef’s perspective of how things work in the kitchen – including applied physics, bio-chemistry and imagination.
In his lecture-demonstration, “The Magic and Science of Cooking,” Yosses will demonstrate the scientific process of creating two dishes – a fruit cloud and a chocolate ganache – and discuss how a degree in French translated into his career as a chef.
In addition to the speakers, there will be a ringing of the bell at Old Queens in New Brunswick at 2:50 p.m. and fireworks can be viewed over the Raritan River.