Campus & Community

New Traditions Begin at Stevens Institute of Technology’s 141st Commencement Ceremonies

Hoboken, N.J. – Stevens Institute of Technology commemorated the graduation of more than 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students on May 23, 2013 in a rousing, culminating day which both broke and set new traditions, reflecting the university’s steady growth and upward progress.

With one of its largest graduating classes ever, Stevens outgrew its Hoboken, N.J. campus for 2013 Commencement. For the first time in its 143-year history, Stevens hosted off-campus Commencement ceremonies at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J., and the university did it in style.

The undergraduate Class of 2013 arrived at the arena on their own private train – “the graduation train” – after processing together in cap and gown from the Stevens campus to the Hoboken station, taking in the stunning views of the New York City skyline that they will always associate with their alma mater.

The day also included perhaps the first-ever on-stage “shuffle” by the valedictorian speaker, and it  represented the last Commencement in 15 years in which retiring Stevens Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Lawrence T. Babbio, Jr. ’66 will confer degrees upon Stevens graduates.

The new chapter in Stevens history kicked off at 10 a.m. with the graduate Commencement ceremony, celebrating the achievements of 1,062 master’s degree and 48 doctoral candidates. Proud family and friends seated in the lower section of the 20,000-seat stadium cheered loudly as graduates were announced and took the Stevens-red-draped stage. And many across the nation and world who could not attend in person tuned into a live stream of the ceremony on the Stevens website. 

Dr. Stephen T. Boswell ‘89, president and CEO of Boswell Engineering, addressed the graduates with a stirring speech about making your own luck. Boswell, a member of the Stevens Board of Trustees, earned a Civil Engineer degree and Ph.D. from Stevens. A licensed professional engineer in 28 states, he is head of a civil and environmental engineering consulting firm which was founded by his grandfather in 1924 and today is renowned for its design and management of roadways, bridges and water treatment facilities. Boswell’s philanthropy to Stevens has included support for athletics programs, campus facilities, and a scholarship fund for undergraduate engineering majors.

The theme of Boswell's speech was that luck and prosperity are not related, but that preparation and prosperity are inextricably linked. There are lessons to be learned from some of the world's most successful people – from the Beatles who practiced for years in tiny British clubs before making it big, to Thomas Edison who failed thousands of times before finally inventing the light bulb, to NASA who spend $12 million developing a zero-gravity pen to use in space while the Russians simply used a pencil – and they had little to do with luck, he said. 

"If you combine the education you received at Stevens with hard work, the right attitude, mental agility, a healthy skepticism and deep integrity, there is no limit to what you can achieve," Boswell said. 

Stevens President Nariman Farvardin echoed Boswell's thoughts as he urged graduates to think big and be bold.

"Never let failures go to your heart or successes to your head," he said. "The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them."

The undergraduate Commencement ceremony followed in the afternoon, with a jubilant crowd of spectators – live and online – celebrating 502 bachelor’s degree earners from the Class of 2013.

Remarks were delivered by Babbio on his official retirement day from the Stevens Board of Trustees. Babbio, who earned his B.E. from Stevens, had a distinguished 40-year career in the telecommunications industry, during which he was president and vice chairman of the board of Verizon and president and COO of Bell Atlantic. His generosity to Stevens helped inspire the Lawrence T. Babbio, Jr. Center for Technology Management, the signature leading-edge structure on the lower campus that bears his name.

Babbio outlined the great opportunities for college graduates grounded in technological education and possessing an entrepreneurial mindset, in an information age in which people and corporations are adopting new technologies at a rate never seen before.

“As graduates of a technology-based school, you should be pleased with the opportunity before you,” said Babbio, who was named Chairman Emeritus after his address. “You have the chance to leverage your education and what you learned here to your advantage, and I believe, the benefit of society.”

He went on to describe seven characteristics that will serve the graduates well as they enter the workforce – integrity, respect, execution, intellectual property, customer satisfaction, efficiency and agility.

Stevens Class of 2013 valedictorian Brad Warren, who earned a B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science at Commencement after finishing his Stevens career with a 4.0 grade point average, also had an important message about the next phase of life for his graduating classmates. Warren, who was a varsity wrestler and a member of the Stevens Cooperative Education program, will soon launch a career in quantitative finance with a full-time position in options trading at Morgan Stanley.

Warren called for his classmates to live their lives guided by a trending motto in popular culture – YOLO, an acronym for “you only live once.”

“You’ve probably heard YOLO used to excuse irresponsible behavior, but I think of it in a different context – that you only live once, so make it a good one,” he said.

He said finding your passion is what will help you dream big, and committing to a path based on those passions is what well help you achieve those big dreams, even when hard work is involved. Personally, Warren said he was inspired to learn to dance the “shuffle” by watching a music video by LMFAO, and after a lot of practice, he eventually became his fraternity’s lead choreographer. To demonstrate, he performed a perfect shuffle across the stage to the great enjoyment of the crowd.

Farvardin also encouraged the class to reach for the stars.

“Think about your responsibility to make the world a better place, and know that to solve the world’s biggest challenges, we need to take risks from time to time,” he said.

Like the thousands of business leaders, scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs who came before them, the job prospects for this year’s Stevens graduates are excellent. With a degree from the university which ranks 9th nationally for 30-year net return on investment, bachelor’s degree earners of the Stevens Class of 2013 were recruited by prestigious corporations, government entities and non-profit organizations.

Based on an 88 percent response rate to a survey from the Stevens Office of Career Development, approximately 68 percent of the bachelor’s degree awardees from the Class of 2013 are entering the workforce. Many have secured promising positions in engineering, finance, computer science, information technology and other fields at leading international employers like Verizon, Ernst & Young, L'Oreal, Goldman Sachs and Johnson & Johnson. The average starting salary for this group is $66,000.

Approximately 10 percent of the class is going on to pursue advanced degrees in business, law, the sciences, medicine and other fields at elite universities like Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cornell University.

For more information about Stevens’ 141st Commencement, including photos and video, please visit

About Stevens Institute of Technology

Stevens Institute of Technology, The Innovation University®, is a premier, private research university situated in Hoboken, N.J. overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Founded in 1870, technological innovation has been the hallmark and legacy of Stevens’ education and research programs for more than 140 years. Within the university’s three schools and one college, more than 6,100 undergraduate and graduate students collaborate with more than 350 faculty members in an interdisciplinary, student-centric, entrepreneurial environment to advance the frontiers of science and leverage technology to confront global challenges. Stevens is home to three national research centers of excellence, as well as joint research programs focused on critical industries such as healthcare, energy, finance, defense and STEM education. The university is the fastest-rising college in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of the best national universities, and it is consistently ranked among the nation’s elite for return on investment for students, career services programs, and mid-career salaries of alumni. Stevens is in the midst of a 10-year strategic plan, The Future. Ours to Create., designed to further extend the Stevens legacy to create a forward-looking and far-reaching institution with global impact.