Rutgers University − Newark Announces Queen Latifah as Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipient

NEWARK, NJ — She was born in Newark, grew up in East Orange and has earned a Grammy, Primetime Emmy, Golden Globe, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, three NAACP Image Awards, two BET Awards and two Teen Choice Awards.

And in May, Queen Latifah will add another milestone to her diverse list of accomplishments: keynote speaker at Rutgers.

The actress was born in Newark and raised in East Orange and has won myriad awards, including a Grammy, Emmy, and Golden Globe. At 21, she founded and led a record company based in Jersey City and by 1993 had signed 17 artists. She;s also  continued to help her home community, including starting a scholarship foundation for low-income youth.

Queen Latifah, Anita Hill to speak at Rutgers commencement ceremonies

On Wednesday, Rutgers University-Newark announced that Latifah will be the featured guest at the 2018 commencement ceremony on May 14 at the Prudential Center in Newark. Latifah will receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree during the ceremony.

;Her career is a living testament to her commitment to the idea of equity in access in myriad ways, particularly regarding the importance of equal rights for women.,; Haddon said. ;She is the ideal role model to charge graduating students to take what they learned at Rutgers-Camden and work to improve their communities and world.;

Anita Hill, Queen Latifah to deliver Rutgers graduation speeches

“Queen Latifah is inspiring to us as students because she always projects herself through her work as a strong woman,” said RU-N undergraduate Adebimpe Elegbeyele, who served on the commencement selection committee that helped guide Latifah’s selection. “She shows young women that we can do that too and young men that they need to respect that.”

Lyneir Richardson, executive director of The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Rutgers – Newark, said that Latifah has been a longtime supporter of Newark and its amazing arts community.

“She is an inspiring role model of excellence for Rutgers-Newark,” Richardson said. “I have seen, up close, her creative spirit, entrepreneurial drive and deep-rooted connection to inclusive urban community revitalization.”

Hill is now a professor of social policy, law, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Brandeis University. Her 1991 allegations against Thomas, then a Supreme Court nominee, sparked national conversations about sexual harassment,  workplace misconduct, inequality, and discrimination.      

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“Queen Latifah is inspiring to us as students because she always projects herself through her work as a strong woman,” said Adebimpe Elegbeleye, a Rutgers-Newark student who served on the commencement selection committee. “She shows young women that we can do that too and young men that they need to respect that.” 

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Anita Hill to deliver commencement address at Rutgers University – Camden

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In a recent New York Daily News article regarding allegations of sexual misconduct perpetrated by Harvey Weinstein, Hill noted that “Despite a generation growing up hearing that sexual harassment is unacceptable, it clearly remains a plague.” In the wake of the surging national crisis regarding sexual harassment in late 2017, she took the lead in a campaign against sexual abuse in the media and entertainment industries by heading up the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace.

(Newark, NJ – February 7, 2018) The Rutgers University Board of Governors confirmed today that Newark’s own Queen Latifah will deliver the keynote address at the Rutgers University − Newark Commencement Ceremony on May 14, 2018 at the Prudential Center. Selected for this honor by a committee of students, faculty, and staff, the hip-hop icon, award-winning actress, singer/song-writer, producer, entrepreneur, and humanitarian will also receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree. “Queen Latifah is inspiring to us as students because she always projects herself through her work as a strong woman,” said RU-N undergraduate Adebimpe Elegbeleye, who served on the commencement selection committee. “She shows young women that we can do that too and young men that they need to respect that.”

Hill, who currently serves as professor of social policy, law and women’s, gender and sexuality studies at Brandeis University, graduated from Yale Law School in 1980 and began her career in private practice in Washington, D.C. She then accepted a position working for the Hon. Clarence Thomas at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, and later, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

Born in Newark and raised in East Orange, New Jersey, Queen Latifah has earned a Grammy, Primetime Emmy, Golden Globe, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, three NAACP Image Awards, two BET Awards, two Teen Choice Awards, and numerous other accolades of national and international distinction. At the age of 21, she organized and became CEO of Flavor Unit Records and Management Company based in Jersey City, N.J. By 1993, the label had 17 signed artists. In 1995, her label won its first Grammy for a song she composed, “U.N.I.T.Y.,” which became an anthem rallying young women to self-love and mutual support, demonstrating the ways in which Queen Latifah leverages her talent to pursue the proverbial “double bottom line” of doing well and doing good by drawing attention to issues of social importance. More recently, she co-starred in the acclaimed comedy “Girls Trip,” which was chosen by Time magazine as one of its top ten films of 2017.

“Queen Latifah has been a consistent supporter of Newark and a source of inspiration for creative people and entrepreneurs in our city and throughout the world,” said Lyneir Richardson, Executive Director of The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Rutgers – Newark. “She is an inspiring role model of excellence for Rutgers-Newark.”

Queen Latifah founded a scholarship foundation for low-income youth and has worked to mitigate home foreclosures in disadvantaged neighborhoods. These were just some of the reasons why she received Newark Beth Israel Medical Center’s Community Award in 2013. Queen Latifah also has been an effective advocate for international initiatives such as ‘Let Girls Learn,’ the campaign started by former First Lady Michelle Obama, that strives to provide support to 62 million girls around the world who do not have access to education. She is currently the spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s ‘Rise Above Heart Failure’ initiative. Other causes she has supported include the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Save the Music Foundation.

“Queen Latifah has been a consistent supporter of Newark and a source of inspiration for creative people and entrepreneurs in our city and throughout the world,” said Lyneir Richardson, Executive Director of The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Rutgers – Newark. “She is an inspiring role model of excellence for Rutgers-Newark. I have seen, up close, her creative spirit, entrepreneurial drive and deep-rooted connection to inclusive urban community revitalization.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Kimberlee Williams, director of communications and marketing, [email protected],973-353-5262

Founded: 1908Joined Rutgers: 1946Campus Size: 38 acres, 33 buildingsChancellor: Nancy CantorProvost: Jerome D. WIlliamsUndergraduate Majors: 40+Graduate Programs: 50+ (JD, MA, MBA, MFA, MPA, MS, Ph.D.)Athletics: 14 NCAA Division III women and men’s teamsLibraries: 4Enrollment (fall 2016)Total: 12,321Undergraduates: 8,170Graduates: 4,151Faculty/StaffFull-time Faculty: 585Faculty with Terminal Degrees: 99%Full-time Staff: 770StudentsMale/Female Ratio: 50:50Student/Faculty Ratio: 13:1Nations Represented: 100+On-campus Residents: 1,280Carnegie ClassificationBasic Type: Research Universities (high research activity)Special Classification: Community Engagement


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