Caldwell University Celebrates Inauguration of its 10th President, Jeffrey Senese and the University’s Founder’s Day

Mar 25, 2024

Caldwell, N.J., March 21, 2024-  Caldwell University celebrated the Inauguration of its 10th President, Jeffrey D. Senese, Ph.D. and the University’s Founder’s Day on March 21.

Presidents and administrators of universities and colleges, community leaders, alumni, faculty, staff and students joined Dr. Senese for the festivities which included a Mass, academic procession, investiture ceremony and luncheon.    

President Senese paid tribute to Mother Joseph Dunn, foundress of Caldwell, and the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell who established the institution in 1939.   Quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson he said, ‘What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.’ Caldwell University has an amazing history. What lies inside of us is…the dedication of our Sisters and our faculty and staff over the past 85 years which have made us an outstanding teaching and learning-focused University.“  

An avid and accomplished runner, Dr. Senese applied the metaphor of his sport in pledging his commitment as Caldwell’s president stating: “I will never give up … .I will be focused on winning, make no mistake, and I will always welcome you to join me.” 

Dr. Senese focused on the critical importance of higher education today. He emphasized that the liberal arts are essential to the future of humanity, not just higher education, that artificial intelligence will continue to take on routine tasks, and that there will be a dramatic shift in work. He said students [still] need an accessible understanding of human cultures and the natural world to be effective professionals regardless of their field.  

Caldwell is a teaching university, and students are the “first and foremost focus,” said President Senese. He set out his vision for expansion in three primary areas: a community of scholars and professionals focused on students; a proud  and profound teaching and learning university; and a partner in “an outstanding location and region.” 

In expanding on partnerships, President Senese made three announcements: a six-figure gift to create the Beverly and Adrian Afonso Speakers Series to begin in the fall, which will feature distinguished thought leaders and change makers; a branding partnership with the New York Jets; and an historic scholarship fund and naming of the School of Arts and Sciences based on a multi-million dollar commitment to the University from a graduate.  

In closing his remarks, Dr. Senese said Caldwell will increase its academic distinction and will grow. “We will focus on our students and be a shining beacon of hopefulness on this hill, in this time and in these circumstances.”  

Senior Sonia Casiano played in the wind ensemble and was happy to be a part of the Inauguration ceremony.  She was impressed with President Senese’s remarks and his announcement of the new initiatives. It shows, she said, that  “He is really putting his best foot forward and trying to do what is best for the University.” 

The  Investiture of the Presidential Chain of Office was presented by Brian Aloia, J.D., president of Caldwell University’s Board of Trustees. The Charter of Caldwell University was presented by Sister Donna Ciangio, ‘71, O.P., D.Min.,  vice chair of the Board of Trustees, and chancellor for the Archdiocese of Newark.

Nancy H. Blattner, Ph.D.,former Caldwell University president who served from 2009 to 2020, passed the mace, the traditional symbol of leadership and authority, to President Senese.  The Introduction of the President was delivered by Joseph Cillo, J.D., Ph.D., faculty member at St. Leo University in St. Leo, Florida. 

Sister Patrice Werner, O.P., Ph.D., the seventh president of Caldwell University, gave the invocation; Sister Mary John Kearney ‘62,  O.P., member of the University’s Board of Trustees, offered the benediction, and Sister Luella Ramm ‘74, O.P., prioress of the Sisters of St. Dominic, provided welcoming remarks from her community.  The Master of Ceremonies was Aneesha Jean, DNP, RN, CNE, associate professor of nursing.

Mace bearers were faculty members Professor Bob Mann, Professor Marguerite Kenney and Marie Mullaney, Ph.D. The University’s wind ensemble provided music for the ceremony.  

“We will focus on our students and be a shining beacon of hopefulness on this hill, in this time and in these circumstances.”   President Jeffrey Senese, Ph.D. 

For full article and photographs provided by Caldwell University, click here.

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