Rutgers–Camden Announces Commencement 2019 Keynote Speakers

By Tom McLaughlin

Neal Katyal, the former Acting U.S. Solicitor General – who surpassed Thurgood Marshall as the minority attorney who has argued the most U.S. Supreme Court cases in the history of the United States – is among the prominent speakers who will deliver keynote addresses during commencement ceremonies for the graduating Class of 2019 at Rutgers University–Camden.

Approximately 1,300 students will receive their bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and Juris Doctor degrees during five separate events at the BB&T Pavilion on the Camden Waterfront on Wednesday, May 22, and Thursday, May 23.

Ernest Grant

Ernest Grant, president of the American Nurses Association, will be the keynote speaker at the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 22. Grant is the first African American to serve as ANA president and formerly vice president, in addition to being the first African American male nurse to lead the North Carolina Nurses Association as president.

An internationally known expert on burn care and fire safety, Grant is the director of the acclaimed burn prevention program at the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center at the University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill. He has received numerous awards, including being named Nurse of the Year in 2002 by former President George W. Bush for his work treating burn victims from the World Trade Center site after 9/11.

Wendy Osefo

Wendy Osefo, an assistant professor of education at John Hopkins University and a national political commentator, will deliver remarks at The Graduate School commencement exercises at 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 22. Osefo, a 2016 graduate of Rutgers–Camden with a Ph.D. in public affairs, is an award-winning researcher, television personality, and political commentator and strategist.

As a researcher, she examines how race and class influence the learning, achievement, and educational trajectories of African American and other underserved students in schools and community settings. She is also the visionary founder and CEO of The 1954 Equity Project, a nonprofit that provides resources, tools, and mentorship to underrepresented minority students to succeed in higher education. Osefo is a board trustee of the Children’s Scholarship Foundation of Baltimore, and a 2018 recipient of the Black Women in Media News and Journalism Award, and the Woman of Vision Award.

Patrick Harker

Patrick Harker, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, will be the keynote speaker for commencement exercises for the College of Arts and Sciences and University College at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 22. Harker participates on the Federal Open Market Committee, which formulates the nation’s monetary policy. He formerly served as president of the University of Delaware, where he was also a professor of business administration, and civil and environmental engineering.

Among other prominent roles, he was dean of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Harker also served as a fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences and a charter fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. He was named a White House fellow by President George H. W. Bush in 1991 and was a special assistant to FBI Director William Sessions from 1991 to 1992.

Neal Katyal

Neal Katyal, the former Acting U.S. Solicitor General, will deliver remarks at the Rutgers Law School commencement ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, May 23. Katyal is the Paul Saunders Professor at Georgetown University Law Center and a partner with Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C.

As Acting Solicitor General of the United States, he argued several major Supreme Court cases, including his successful defense of the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and his victorious defense of former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft for alleged abuses in the war on terror. In his first Supreme Court argument, Katyal won Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the case that shut down the Guantanamo military tribunals.

Katyal is the recipient of the Edmund Randolph Award, the highest award given to a civilian by the U.S. Department of Justice. He was named American Lawyer’s Litigator of the Year last year, selected among all attorneys in the United States.

Katyal and Kenneth C. Frazier, board chair and CEO of Merck & Co., will receive Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from Rutgers University–Camden at the Rutgers Law School ceremony. Frazier will offer accepting remarks.

Frank Giordano

Frank Giordano, president and CEO of the Philly POPS and executive director of the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, will be the keynote speaker at the Rutgers School of Business–Camden commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 23. As president of the Philly POPS since 2011, the 1972 graduate of Rutgers School of Business–Camden is credited with applying for-profit strategies to a struggling nonprofit, leading the POPS to unprecedented success in ticket sales, contributed revenue, community engagement, and artistic expression.

While a Rutgers–Camden student in the early 1970s, Giordano grew his company, Atlantic Trailer Leasing, from two trailers to 800 in his Philadelphia location. He went on to enjoy a highly successful career as a businessperson and philanthropist. Today, the Frank and Dottie Giordano Responsibility Scholarship financially supports working Rutgers–Camden students while they gain business experience in unpaid internships. With his successful track record, Giordano was tapped to lead the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, dedicated to planning of the 250th anniversary celebration of the United States, which will take place in 2026 in Philadelphia.

For more information on Rutgers–Camden commencement ceremonies, visit

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