Jon Bon Jovi and Bryan Stevenson to Receive Honorary Degrees

During its regularly scheduled meeting in Newark, the Rutgers Board of Governors today approved Rutgers University–Camden’s recommendation to present honorary degrees to Jon Bon Jovi and Bryan Stevenson at the Rutgers University–Camden Convocation and Graduate Commencement ceremony.

The ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. Thursday, May 21, at the Susquehanna Bank Center, located at One Harbour Boulevard on the Camden waterfront.

Jon Bon Jovi

Jon Bon Jovi

Famed musician, philanthropist, and native New Jerseyan Jon Bon Jovi is the founder and frontman of one of the world’s best-selling musical acts, Bon Jovi, which has sold more than 130 million albums worldwide. The band’s last two consecutive world tours became the top-grossing tour in the world on each respective outing. As an actor, he has appeared in numerous feature films and television series and, as a songwriter, he is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, who earned a Golden Globe for Best Original Song in 1991 and a nomination for Best Original Song in 2012.

Frequently using his spotlight for good throughout his career, Bon Jovi’s charitable efforts have always focused on helping those who help themselves. As these efforts grew to focus on affordable housing and hunger, he formally launched the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation in 2006, which combats the issues that force families and individuals into economic despair. Through the funding and creation of programs and partnerships, the foundation supports innovative community efforts to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness.

In 2011, Bon Jovi opened the JBJ Soul Kitchen, a community restaurant in Red Bank, N.J., where patrons either pay a minimum donation or volunteer in exchange for their meals. In February 2015, the foundation provided financial backing for a second community restaurant, Spoon Full of Hope, in Superstorm Sandy-ravaged Union Beach, N.J.

Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), is recognized for representing capital defendants and death row prisoners in the Deep South, and is a professor of clinical law at the New York University School of Law.

Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson

Stevenson is a 1985 graduate of Harvard University, with both a master’s in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government and a Doctor of Laws from Harvard Law School. Since 1989, he has been executive director of the EJI, a private, nonprofit law organization he founded that focuses on social justice and human rights in the context of criminal justice reform in the U.S. EJI litigates on behalf of condemned prisoners, juvenile offenders, people wrongly convicted or charged, poor people denied effective representation, and others whose trials are marked by racial bias or prosecutorial misconduct.

Stevenson’s work has won him national acclaim. In 1995, he was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. He is also a 1989 recipient of the Reebok Human Rights Award, the 1991 American Civil Liberties Union National Medal of Liberty, and in 1996, he was named the Public Interest Lawyer of the Year by the National Association of Public Interest Lawyers. In 2000, Stevenson received the Olof Palme Prize in Stockholm for international human rights and in 2004, he received the Award for Courageous Advocacy from the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Lawyer for the People Award from the National Lawyers Guild.

In 2006, NYU presented Stevenson with its Distinguished Teaching Award. He has served as a visiting professor at the University of Michigan Law School. He has published several widely disseminated manuals on capital litigation and has written extensively on criminal justice, capital punishment, and civil rights issues. He is also the author of The New York Times bestseller and multi-award-winning Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.

Rutgers–Camden will celebrate the Class of 2015 during this special ceremony to confer master’s and doctoral degrees and present honorary degrees. For more information about Rutgers–Camden Commencement 2015, visit


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