May 19, 2019
Gratz College Weisbein Auditorium
7605 Old York Road
Melrose Park, PA 19027
On May 19, the Gratz community came together to celebrate and reflect.
Gratz welcomed 70 graduates for this year’s commencement on Sunday, May 19 at Gratz College. Graduates included the first student to complete the College’s Jewish Professional Studies program, and one graduate of the Education Leadership Ed.D. program. Gratz conferred degrees on 40 graduates of the M.A. in Education program, 10 graduates of the M.A. in Holocaust and Genocide Studies program, one graduate of the M.A. in Jewish Education program, five graduates of the M.A. in Jewish Studies program, and eight graduates of the M.S. in Nonprofit Management program. Additionally, two students earned Master’s Plus Certificates in Distinguished Teaching and Learning, and one received a Graduate Certificate in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
“Congratulations to all of the graduates,” said Dr. Honour Moore, interim dean of Academic Affairs. “These are significant achievements, and this commencement pays tribute to many long years of hard work and dedication.”
Gratz conferred honorary doctorates to Drexel University President John Anderson Fry, — who also delivered the commencement address — and to Dr. Michael C. Steinlauf, Professor Emeritus and former Director of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Program. In conferring a Doctor of Humane Letters, Chair of the Gratz Board of Governors, Michelle Portnoff, recognized President Fry’s innovative leadership in higher education. In conferring a Doctor of Hebrew Letters, Gratz President Paul Finkelman recognized Dr. Steinlauf’s scholarship in Holocaust studies.
In President Fry’s commencement address, he underscored the kinship between Gratz College and Drexel University. Both institutions, established in Philadelphia just four years apart—Drexel in 1891 and Gratz in 1895, opened their doors to both men and women from the very beginning. Fry also discussed the similarities between the founding mission of the schools to build talent for a changing industrial world, and highlighted how Drexel and Gratz have evolved and adapted while continuing to train the next generation of citizens to better today’s society. “The connections between our two institutions are instructive for what they say about higher education, community and progress in Philadelphia,” Fry said. “Both have grand ambitions that stem from an ethos that reaches all the way back to the founders of Gratz and Drexel.”
Fry also honored a man he called his “cherished mentor,” D. Walter Cohen, a Gratz alumnus who served on its Board of Governors. Cohen, who died in 2018, had encouraged Fry to accept the Gratz College honorary degree.
Fry entreated Gratz graduates to appreciate the gifts in life — such as cherished friendships and meaningful opportunities like a college education — and to pay it forward.
Another highlight of commencement was the address delivered by Class Speaker Rosanna Matos, who was graduating with an M.A. in Education. Matos shared her personal journey to complete her degree and the challenges she faced along the way as a working mother and the first member of her family to complete a college degree. Like President Fry, Matos urged her classmates to focus on serving others. “What is education if you are not using it to serve your community? What value does knowledge have if it is not used to uplift your community? I challenge you, the Gratz College graduating class of 2019 to take what you have learned here at Gratz, and what you learn each day but don’t stop there. Pursue education in unconventional ways as well and then go to your community and put what you have learned into action. Be that person of inspiration to others and uplift others who are hungry to make a better life for themselves.”