Speakers & Honorees

Speakers & Honorees

Commencement Speakers and Honorees

Keynote Address

Lucy Rorke-Adams, M.D.
Pediatric neuropathologist       

Lucy Rorke Adams

Dr. Lucy Rorke-Adams, a trailblazing pediatric neuropathologist, is an international expert on pediatric brain tumors and shaken baby syndrome. In fact, she dedicated her remarkable, 58-year career in medicine to advancing science to improve the lives of children. Her work involved studying the diseases of the brain, spinal cord and nerves.

An invited speaker at medical schools and professional societies throughout the world, Rorke-Adams, a nonagenarian, is a celebrated scientist, physician, teacher, and mentor whose work has been widely published.

She served as president of the medical staff at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she enjoyed a 50-year career, and, also, was the first and only female president in the 188-year history of Pennsylvania General Hospital.

The daughter of Armenian immigrants, Rorke-Adams earned her bachelor’s, master’s and medical degrees from the University of Minnesota.

In recognition of her exemplary accomplishments as a physician, educator, scholar and leader in the field of medicine, Rorke-Adams will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree.


Honorary Degree Recipient

Gerald B. Shreiber
Chairman, J&J Snack Foods Corp      

Gerald B. Shreiber

A gifted entrepreneur and businessman, Gerald B. Shreiber achieved phenomenal success as chairman of J&J Snack Foods Corp, one of the consummate niche players in the snack food and beverage industry with brands that include SUPERPRETZEL, ICEE, LUIGI’S and Minute Maid.

A lifelong animal lover, Shreiber has used his extraordinary business success as a springboard to support both education and animal welfare.

In 2019, his $3 million gift to Rowan established the Shreiber Family Pet Therapy Program, which brings certified therapy animals to campus. To date, the program has served more than 8,000 students and employees.

This spring, Shreiber pledged $30 million to support the establishment of the Shreiber School of Veterinary Medicine at Rowan University—the first veterinary school in New Jersey.

In recognition of his consistent and exemplary accomplishments as an entrepreneur, humanitarian and supporter of education and animal welfare, Shreiber will receive an honorary Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree.


Distinguished Alumnus

William J. Spurlin, B’76, Ph.D.
Professor emeritus and honorary professor, Brunel University London    

William J. SpurlinDr. William J. Spurlin, a celebrated career educator, will receive Rowan University’s 2023 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award during the main Commencement ceremony May 6.

Following his 1976 graduation from then-Glassboro State College, Dr. Spurlin served with the Peace Corps in Malaysia and taught English Composition and English Literature in Singapore before returning to the U.S. for graduate studies.

A professor emeritus and honorary professor at Brunel University London, Dr. Spurlin was a professor of English and vice-dean in the College of Business, Arts & Social Sciences there.

The author of eight books and more than 60 articles in peer-reviewed, international journals or book chapters, he has received national and international acclaim for teaching innovation and scholarship in comparative literature; gender and sexuality studies; and Holocaust studies.