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NJIT Welcomes Class of 2018 and Recognizes Faculty and Staff Excellence at Annual Convocation

Indira Hernandez '08 gave the keynote address at University Convocation on Sept. 10, 2014.

The NJIT community officially welcomed the incoming Class of 2018 and recognized faculty and staff excellence during the annual Convocation ceremony on September 10, 2014. This year’s ceremony was held under a large tent constructed on the Campus Green to accommodate the university’s largest-ever freshman class.  

In his State of the University address, President Joel S. Bloom underscored the fact that NJIT is the only public polytechnic university in New Jersey. As such, NJIT provides education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines that helps students find outstanding jobs, as evidenced by its ranking as eighth in the nation among public colleges and universities for return on investment.

“We encourage you to value education and know how important you are to us,” Bloom said. “We all want you to succeed.”

Indira Hernandez, who earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from NJIT in 2008, was the keynote speaker. At NJIT, she excelled as an Albert Dorman Honors College scholar, a Ronald E. McNair scholar, co-captain of the Steel Bridge Team and as Newark College of Engineering’s Outstanding Senior in Civil Engineering. Hernandez, who is currently working as a Senior Project Engineer at GACE Consulting Engineers, recalled the challenges of arriving at NJIT as an undergraduate student with only two years of English under her belt. 

“Take the different negatives and turn them into positive outcomes,” she advised. “You have to find passion in what you actually do... Studying on your own is fantastic, but find a group and interchange ideas." 

Student Senate President Alpha Jalloh ’15 encouraged students to become involved in campus and community activities and to play an active role in their academic success.

“NJIT has a lot to offer you,” Jalloh said. “I hope you take advantage of opportunities, set your goals high, and work together as a team.”

Convocation traditionally honors select NJIT faculty and staff members who have demonstrated the highest level of excellence over a sustained period. The recipients of the NJIT Board of Overseers Excellence in Research Prize and Medal and the NJIT Board of Overseers Lifetime Achievement Award were formally announced during the ceremony. Somenath Mitra, Ph.D., a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Environmental Science, is the seventh recipient of the Board of Overseers Excellence in Research Prize and Medal, which is awarded annually in recognition of a sustained record of contributions that has enhanced the reputation of NJIT. Yeheskel Bar-Ness, Ph.D., a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a recognized pioneer in signal processing, will be the second recipient of the Board of Overseers Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Gregory Mass, Executive Director of Career Development Services, received the 2014 Overseers Excellence in Service Award. During his NJIT career, spanning more than 25 years, Mass has demonstrated a sustained record of service, professionalism, leadership, and dedication to his department and to the university. 

Rose Federici, Assistant to the Provost for Finance and Budget, received the Constance A. Murray Diversity Award, which is presented to individuals or groups within NJIT who have compiled a significant and sustained record of achievement in fostering diversity within the university community. Federici was recognized for her exceptional contributions toward the advancement of women at NJIT over the past decade.

Yi Chen, an assistant professor in NJIT’s School of Management, was named The Henry J. Leir Chair in Healthcare.

The following faculty members were promoted to the rank of distinguished professor: Nirwan Ansari, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Fadi Deek, Department of Information Systems; and Alexander Haimovich, Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Linda Cummings, PhD., and Cyrill Muratov, Ph.D., both of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, were promoted to the rank of professor. Promoted to associate professor with tenure were: Shahriar Afkhami, Ph.D., Department of Mathematical Sciences; Dirk Bucher, Ph.D., Federated Department of Biological Sciences; Ecevit Bilgili, Ph.D., Otto H. York Department of Chemical, Biological and Pharmaceutical Engineering; Daniel Bunker, Ph.D., Federated Department of Biological Sciences; Michael Ehrlich, Ph.D., School of Management; Wenge Guo, Ph.D., Department of Mathematical Sciences; and Mohamad Mahgoub, Ph.D., Department of Engineering Technology.

The Excellence in Teaching Awards recognize members of the instructional staff for outstanding accomplishments in teaching. Receiving this award were: Caroline DeVan, a Ph.D. candidate in the Federated Department of Biological Sciences (Instruction by a Teaching Assistant); Stephen Orosz, Otto H. York Department of Chemical, Biological and Pharmaceutical Engineering (Instruction by an Adjunct Professor); David Brothers, College of Architecture and Design (Instruction by a University Lecturer); Gordon Thomas, Department of Physics (Undergraduate Instruction-Lower Division); Marvin Nakayama, Department of Computer Science, (Undergraduate Instruction-Upper Division); Diana Walsh, School of Management (Excellence in Innovative Teaching); Fadi Karaa, John A. Reif, Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (Graduate Instruction); and Maurie Cohen, Ph.D., Department of Humanities (Excellence in Teaching Honors Courses).

Presidential Leadership Awards were presented to Kathleen Uske, who received a B.S. degree in biomedical engineering in May 2014 and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in biomedical engineering. Yasmine Aly, who completed her Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering this past summer, received the award in the graduate category.

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