HomeCranbury PressCranbury Press NewsRider University announces 2022 honorary degree recipients, commencement speakers

Rider University announces 2022 honorary degree recipients, commencement speakers

Rider University officials announced the college’s 2022 honorary degree recipients, as well as the commencement speaker.
Entrepreneur Paul Muller will be honored at Rider University’s Undergraduate Commencement exercises at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton on May 14, beginning at 2 p.m.
He will receive an honorary Doctor of Business.
Muller owns Team Toyota of Langhorne, Princeton and Glen Mills, and is president of the Tri-State Toyota Dealers Association. He started his first dealership in Lawrenceville in 1983 and has purchased, opened and sold nine other dealerships since then, according to information provided by Rider.

In 2017 and 2018, Muller served as the first vice president of the Philly Ad Club Education Foundation, supporting educational endeavors that include a scholarship program, a teen program focused on middle school students, a mentoring program for young professionals and college students, and a college and university professional development program, according to the statement.

Muller is a philanthropist and active in his community. His Team Toyota dealerships offer a Heroes Recognition Program that provides special vehicle pricing for police, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, military members and health services professionals. Additionally, through this program, Muller’s Team Toyota supports the Police and Fire Survivors and Widows Funds and the Bucks County Tour of Honor organization, according to the statement.

A veteran who served for three years in the U.S. Army, including a year in Vietnam, Muller supports active military and veterans through local area partnerships with the Tri-State Toyota Dealers Association, according to the statement. Team Toyota is also a longtime partner of Philabundance, collecting and distributing hundreds of thousands of pounds of food throughout the Philadelphia region during the holiday season each year.

Muller studied political science at Rider University, leaving after his first year for his Army tour before re-enrolling at Rider.

He has remained connected to Rider, supporting Rider Athletics and sponsoring Rider’s annual Cruisin’ from Commencement Competition through Team Toyota of Princeton, according to the statement.
His wife and four sons are all Rider alumni.

New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli will be honored at Rider University’s Graduate Commencement exercises on May 12 at Rider University’s Alumni Gym, beginning at 6 p.m.

She will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Persichilli has served as the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health since 2019. She has led, alongside Gov. Phil Murphy, the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Health under her leadership works to protect and improve the health of New Jersey residents, reduce health disparities, improve maternal health, address the overdose epidemic and increase access to health care, according to the statement.

Prior to leading the department, Persichilli served as the acting CEO of University Hospital in Newark, president emerita and president of CHE Trinity Health, president and CEO of Catholic Health East, and CEO of St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, according to the statement.

She also served as a Rider Trustee from 1999 to 2008.

She was inducted into the New Jersey State Nurses Association Hall of Honor in 2006. She received the 2008 Richard J. Hughes Humanitarian Award, KYW Newsradio Women’s Achievement Award, the Edward J. III Excellence in Medicine Award for Outstanding Medical Executive, The Philadelphia Business Journal’s Healthcare Innovation Lifetime Achievement Award and the Benemerenti Medal, a papal honor bestowed on her by Pope Benedict XVI, according to the statement. She has also been named to NJBIZ’s “50 Most Powerful People in New Jersey Health Care” list and Becker’s Hospital Review’s “300 Hospital and Health System Leaders to Know” list.

In 2021, the New Jersey Department of Health building in Trenton was renamed the Judith M. Persichilli Building following the passage of enabling legislation in the Assembly and Senate. Murphy signed it into law last November to honor Persichilli’s ongoing service to the people of New Jersey during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Persichilli received her nursing diploma from the St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing summa cum laude from Rutgers University and a Master of Arts in Administration summa cum laude from Rider University, according to the statement.

Ann Meier Baker, director of music and opera at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), will address the Westminster Choir College Classes of 2022 and 2020 at the commencement ceremony on May 13 at the Princeton University Chapel, beginning at 4 p.m.

Baker was appointed the director of music and opera at the NEA in January 2015. She oversees the NEA’s grant making in music and opera including millions of dollars per year in grants for organizations in urban, suburban and rural communities throughout the U.S., according to the statement. She is also responsible for the NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship program, the nation’s highest honor in the field of jazz, which includes presenting renowned artists in annual Jazz Masters concerts and other celebratory events in collaboration with high-profile partners.

Baker is the co-leader of the agency’s role in the Sound Health Coalition, along with the National Institutes of Health, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Renée Fleming to explore the intersections between music and the brain.
She also led the NEA’s Creativity Connects Grant Program for projects that connect arts organizations with non-arts entities so that they can use the arts and creativity to forge new approaches to help address a wide variety of societal challenges, according to the statement.

Previously, Baker served as president and CEO of Chorus America, where she led the national membership association of more than 2,000 professional, volunteer, symphonic and children/youth choruses. She has also held leadership positions at the League of American Orchestras and the National Association for Music Education.

A lifelong choral singer, she began her career as a public school music teacher before becoming a professional singer with the United States Air Force Singing Sergeants, according to the statement.
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