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(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)May 16, 2003

(Mahwah) – Joseph J. McCarthy, senior associate dean and director of degree programs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, will deliver the commencement address at Ramapo College of New Jersey’s 2003 ceremony Friday, May 23 beginning at 10 a.m. at the Band Shell. Ramapo College Distinguished Professor Anthony Padovano will make commencement remarks. Debra M. Perry (Ramapo class of 1985) will receive the President’s Award of Merit. Graduating senior Kim Spaccarotella will give remarks on behalf of the Class of 2002. A total of 903 students who completed their studies in January and during the spring 2003 semester are expected to graduate. An additional 157 students who are expected to finish in August also are eligible to participate.

McCarthy holds a B.A. and M.A. degrees in English language and literature from Boston College and completed his doctorate in administration, planning, and social policy at Harvard University. His dissertation was a study of federal policy making and U.S. education. He began his career at Harvard in 1982 at the Graduate School of Education where he worked as a teaching fellow, research assistant, and administrator in the Office of the Dean. He also taught expository writing at Harvard College. In 1987 he served as executive assistant to the dean at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and, from 1990 to 1996, as assistant dean for academic planning in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences Office of Academic Affairs.

In his current position at the Kennedy School, he has oversight responsibility for administration of four master’s degree programs and two doctoral programs currently enrolling 850 students, (44 percent international) and a staff of 53 professional and support personnel. He serves on numerous school-wide and university-wide committees. He also serves on a number of outside boards. Current directorships include Stonehill College in Massachusetts and Hibernia College in Dublin, Ireland, as well as the Board of Shareholders at the Harvard Coop.

McCarthy’s professional experiences include 10 years teaching and administration in independent and public schools in the U.S. and abroad, including suburban Boston and Washington, DC, The Hague, The Netherlands, and Athens, Greece.

Commencement Remarks
Dr. Anthony T. Padovano, a founding faculty member of Ramapo College, holds doctorates and professorships in literature and theology. He has published more than 200 articles and is the author of 27 books, including three award-winning plays, which have been translated into seven languages.

Padovano has held visiting professorships at a total of 25 American colleges and universities. He lectures worldwide and is a regular presenter at United Nations conferences. He frequently appears in major media forums on both sides of the Atlantic. The driving commitments of his academic life have been interdisciplinary and global concerns, and the literary, religious, and ethical issues which unite the human family. His personal and professional papers are permanently preserved in the archives of the University of Notre Dame and are available to scholars and doctoral candidates from around the world.

President’s Award of Merit
Debra Perry, Esq., counsel to the firm of McCarter & English, LLP, concentrates in civil trial and appellate practice as well as the coordination of multi-jurisdictional mass tort litigation. She has extensive experience in the defense of products liability claims involving various pharmaceutical products, asbestos thermal insulation products, and fire retardant treated plywood products. She is part of the national coordinating team managing Prozac® litigation for Eli Lilly and Company, Stadol NS litigation for Bristol Myers Squibb, fire retardant litigation for Hoover Treated Wood Products as well as other litigations for other large clients of the firm.

Perry has represented various clients in New Jersey and nationally, defending products liability, personal injury claims. She is national counsel for Sterling Fluid Systems in asbestos and other products liability litigation. She is regional counsel and New Jersey counsel defending individual and mass tort claims for numerous corporations including Owens-Illinois, Inc., Porter Hayden Company and ACandS, Inc. She regularly appears before trial and appellate courts in New Jersey, New York and nationally addressing issues such as scientific and medical causation, causation in fact and the defense of medical issues in products liability claims.

Perry is a 1985 graduate of Ramapo College and a 1989 graduate of the Rutgers University Law School-Newark. She is a member of the New Jersey State, Essex County and American Bar Associations, and a member of the Defense Research Institute. She is admitted to practice before the State and Federal Courts of New Jersey and before the United States Courts of Appeal for the 3rd Circuit.

Perry has three sons, Matthew, Adam and Jonathan. Adam and Jonathan were both born while Ms. Perry attended Ramapo College. She wrote final exams in the hospital after Jonathan’s birth in order to graduate on time and was given the honor of being the student speaker at graduation.

Notable members of the Class of 2003
Jelena Pjesivic-Grbovic and her husband, Dragoslav Grbovic, both physics majors, have accepted offers of doctoral program fellowships at the University of Tennessee, Jelena in computer science and Dragoslav in physics.

Two students have completed the requirements for a degree in bioinformatics and will be the first to graduate in this new major. Garrett Dancik has accepted admission into the Ph.D. program, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Harshani Peiris interviewed for research positions at a number of universities, accepting one at the University of Pennsylvania; she intends to begin a Ph.D. program after one year.


Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice, has been named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others. Ramapo College is also distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by, boasts the best campus housing in New Jersey on, and is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools.

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Technology, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice.


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