Inaugural Fall Convocation
Anticipation mounted in the Rutgers–Camden Athletic and Fitness Center as the House Band launched into the final bars of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” It was September 8, the afternoon of the inaugural Fall Convocation, and although the event had yet to officially start, members of the campus community could sense they were in for something special. Chancellor Antonio D. Tillis made it his personal mission to bring Convocation to Camden after witnessing its success in New Brunswick and Newark, but not as a mere imitation of those traditions. Chancellor Tillis’ image of Convocation bore the stamp of his visionary leadership and Rutgers–Camden’s singular spirit, both of which were on display during the ceremony.
“Our beloved community is a place where you will always belong—no matter where you have been in life or where you plan to go,” Chancellor Tillis said. The crowd cheered when he urged new students to “go to a Scarlet Raptors basketball, soccer, or baseball game and enjoy a hot dog as you watch us win.”
Chancellor Tillis made a special request of the House Band before he stepped up to the podium: A rendition of Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration,” which captured both the festive atmosphere of the occasion and Chancellor Tillis’s propensity for celebrating faculty, staff, students, and his community. Convocation is just one example of the many traditions he has introduced to Rutgers–Camden, born out of a belief that celebrating success is a key to replicating it.
Celebrating the Service and Sacrifices of Veterans
In November 2022, Rutgers-Camden observed a weeklong celebration of veterans for the second straight year. An extension of the university’s customary Veterans Day activities, the weeklong celebration reflected Rutgers-Camden’s position in the top 100 of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges for Veterans rankings. Named New Jersey’s first Purple Heart University in 2016, Rutgers-Camden counts over 400 veterans among its student body and thousands more among faculty, staff, and alumni.
The university community observed a moment of silence in a solemn, reverent Veterans Day ceremony, and the slate of veteran-focused campus events continued throughout the following week. An annual veterans luncheon was held November 15, in which alumnus and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Mark Bodrog served as the keynote speaker and several students received awards from the Office of Military & Veterans Affairs. A meet-and-greet for active and former servicemembers followed later in the week, along with a community-service event that saw faculty, staff, and students sign cards for military members deployed overseas.
The weeklong celebration of veterans was emblematic of Rutgers–Camden’s overall approach to educating and supporting the military community: ambitious in scope and committed to going above and beyond. Most important, the new tradition has educated the campus community about how they can get involved and support veterans in the transition from military service to academic life.
White Coats Signify New Beginnings for Doctorate of Nursing Practice Students
Graduates of the Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) program formally celebrated the beginning of their clinical hours with a white-coat ceremony in September.
“We are creating new traditions,” said Interim Provost Donna Nickitas, former dean of the School of Nursing. “It’s a symbol that sets expectations for students’ personal growth and commitment to make a difference.”
Wearing the iconic symbol of their new profession, Class of 2022 graduates convened with friends and family to mark the culmination of a years-long, intensive program of study. School of Nursing faculty congratulated the cohort for their level of commitment, noting that the sacrifices they had made during their training would continue throughout their careers.
“It’s a message to their families,” said Marie O’Toole, interim dean of the School of Nursing–Camden. “This involves some sacrifice, and that they’ll need to support them.”
Rallying for the Scarlet Raptors
The Rutgers–Camden men’s and women’s basketball teams helped the university tip off a new tradition at the inaugural Scarlet Raptors Rally on February 8. Over 200 attendees packed the Athletic and Fitness Center, enjoying free food and entertainment in a carnival-like atmosphere before the dawn of a new rivalry between Rutgers–Camden and Kean University. Students snagged giveaways, snapped selfies in a university-themed photo booth, and tried their luck for door prizes like a $200 gift card, a Rutgers spirit basket, and even a free reserved parking spot on campus.
Alumnus William Mead CCAS’79 GSC’88, a Vietnam War veteran, performed the national anthem prior the women’s game. Senior Jalissa Pitts, just the 15th member of Rutgers–Camden women’s basketball’s 1,000-Point Club, led the way for the Scarlet Raptors, racking up 25 points and seven rebounds while playing all 40 minutes of the game.
The men’s contest followed, with even more spectators filling the stands to witness a late-night clash. Sophomore Eric Benjamin led Rutgers–Camden with 17 points, and the team’s leading scorer on the season, senior Cameron Downs, followed close behind with 16 points and four rebounds. Although the Scarlet Raptors lost both games, the event set a winning tone for future editions of the rivalry, as fans went home with prizes, a boost in school spirit, and plenty of lasting memories.
Creative Design: Douglas Shelton
Photography: Ron Downes Jr.