PISCATAWAY, NJ—This Sunday, Rutgers University will be holding its 248th annual Commencement Ceremony, the first since merging with the University of Medicine and Dentistry at NJ (UMDNJ).
The ceremony, held at the school's football stadium on Busch Campus, commemorates the thousands of students set to graduate this year. The event starts at 12:30pm and is open all members of the general public, though it is recommended that attendees arrive in advance to ensure they can get a good seat.
This year, thanks to the medical school merger, the University will be graduating its largest number of students ever, an estimated 16,431.
"[The graduating class] includes approximately 10,364 baccalaureate degrees and, 6,067 master’s degrees, doctorates (including professional doctorates), and one specialist of education," reads a press release issued by the University.
Last year's ceremony was the largest ever at the time, graduating an estimate 14,308 students.
The commencement address will be given by Thomas H. Kean, who served as Governor of New Jersey in the 1980's before many of the graduating students were born. More recently, Kean was selected by US President George W. Bush to lead a committee examining the terrorist attacks of September 2001, known as the 9/11 Commission.
In addition, graduating senior and former football player Eric LeGrand will be delivering a speech at the ceremony.
Having suffered a spinal cord injury during a 2010 Rutgers football game, LeGrand was left paralyzed from the neck down. Throughout the rest of his college career, LeGrand became a motivation speaker and advocate for people with disabilities.
Previously, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, another Bush appointee, had committed to speak at the commencement ceremony, and receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree and $35,000 honorarium.
However, Rice backed out from there ceremony as protests against her giving the commencement address ramped up and gained the attention of the national news media.
Advisories issued by the Rutgers and New Brunswick Police Departments warned of road closures, traffic and delays.
General delays should be expected on Route 18, Route 27, College Avenue, George Street, Metlars Lane, River Road, Hoes Lane, as well as the John Lynch and Landing Lane bridges.
Motorists traveling Route 27 north or south through Highland Park will be redirected through local roads before being able to merge back onto Route 27, the result of that town's annual Street Fair.
Although the event is open to the public, parking will be reserved for individuals who have obtained a commencement hangtag.
Designated buses will shuttle attendees from the university's sprawling campuses in New Brunswick and Piscataway to the football stadium, located on River Road.