Press Release: Fairleigh Dickinson University holds 76th Commencement on May 21

Nearly 2,500 students from 58 countries and 38 states to receive degrees.


Teaneck, NJ – On Tuesday, May 21, 2019, the 76th Commencement ceremony of Fairleigh Dickinson University will be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. Nearly 2,500 students will receive doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees.

The Commencement ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. and will be broadcast live on the web, allowing family and friends around the world to share the ceremony with their graduates.

The ceremony will include an honorary degree presentation to Vince Forlenza, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), and the presentation of a Presidential Citation to Greg Herenda, head coach, FDU Knights Men’s Basketball. Coach Herenda will also serve as commencement speaker.

The campus executives will present the Student Pinnacle Awards to this year’s winners: Melissa Dalessio from Paramus, N.J., representing the Metropolitan Campus, Christian Guevara-Rodriguez from Parsippany, N.J. representing the Florham Campus and Natalia Alejandra Montano Gonzalez representing the Vancouver Campus in British Columbia, Canada.

Honorary Degree Recipient


Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company)

Vince Forlenza serves as chairman and chief executive officer of BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), a global medical technology company headquartered in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.

During his more than 35-year career with BD, Forlenza has held a number of executive leadership positions globally, in the United States and Europe. He was named president of BD in January 2009, assumed additional responsibility as chief operating officer in July 2010, became chief executive officer in October 2011 and chairman of the board in July 2012. Previous appointments include leadership roles as senior vice president of Technology, Strategy and Development; president of BD Biosciences; and executive vice president and president of BD Diagnostics.

Forlenza served as chairman of the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) Board of Directors from 2015 to 2017. In that role, he significantly advanced the association’s innovation agenda, collaborating with policymakers and industry partners to reinvigorate the innovation ecosystem and promote the value of medical technology in extending and improving patients’ lives, enhancing population health and supporting economically sound health systems. He served on both the AdvaMed Board and its Executive Committee for seven years and is also the past chair of the association’s Board Committee on Technology and Regulation. In addition, he served as chairman of the board for AdvaMedDx, a division of AdvaMed focused on the unique needs and issues facing diagnostics manufacturers.

Forlenza currently serves on The Valley Health Systems Board of Trustees and previously served as chairman of The Valley Hospital. He is a past member of the Advisory Board for the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Lehigh University, where he also served as a member of the Board of Trustees.

Forlenza earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Lehigh University in 1975, and a master’s degree in business administration from Wharton Graduate School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1980.

Commencement Speaker and Presidential Citation Recipient

Greg Herenda

Head Coach, FDU Knights Men’s Basketball

In 2018-19, Greg Herenda completed his sixth season at the helm of the Fairleigh Dickinson men’s basketball program.

This season, the Knights (21-14) made history by winning the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament game, defeating Prairie View A&M in the First Four round. The 2019 Knights captured a share of the NEC Championship for the first time since 2006 and enjoyed their fourth consecutive .500 or better season in NEC play as Herenda led the team to a 12-6 conference mark. With 21 total wins, the Burgundy and Blue registered the fifth-highest win total in program history.

Herenda, who registered career win No. 200 on February 23, 2019 against Wagner, guided the Knights back to the NEC Championship for the second time in his six seasons by earning wins over Wagner (84-46) and Robert Morris (66-62). Herenda improved to 7-3 all-time in NEC postseason games and boasts a perfect 4-0 mark at home.

Throughout Herenda’s time at FDU he has maintained a strong relationship with the Boys and Girls Club of Hackensack/Lodi.  He has also worked hard to develop relationships with alumni and in association with an alumni commitment he began the Revitalization of the Alumni Basketball Suite in the Rothman Center.

Prior to FDU 
Herenda, who is a native of North Bergen, N.J. and played for legendary coach Jerome Halligan at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, N.J., has a coaching path that has taken him to the Big East, Conference USA, the Ivy League and the Patriot League through the years, and his teams have won multiple conference championships, as well as appearing in both the NCAA and NIT Tournaments.

In 2008, Herenda took over at UMass Lowell, inheriting a 12-win squad from the year before. In his first season, he was named the Northeast Conference-10 and NABC East Region Coach of the Year after leading the Division II school to a 21-8 record, which started a stretch of three straight 20-win seasons and four straight trips to the NCAA Tournament. Before leading UMass Lowell, Herenda was the head coach at Cabrini College for one season (2007-08), Division III school in Radnor, Pa. Herenda started his head coaching career at Elgin Community College in Elgin. Ill., in 2006.

Playing Career 
A four-year player at Merrimack, Herenda still holds the school record for assists in a game (22) and shares the record for the single-season average (9.0).

Herenda earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Marketing from Merrimack College. He currently resides in Bergen County with his wife, Jillene, and his son Trey.

Student Pinnacle winners

The Pinnacle Award is the highest honor the University bestows on a graduating student. One student from each campus who has demonstrated academic excellence, public service and commitment to the University is honored. Winners will address their fellow graduates and the assembled audience.

Melissa Dalessio – Metropolitan Campus

Melissa Dalessio, of Paramus, NJ, will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a minor in Social Justice Advocacy.  Melissa has been very involved on campus during her time at FDU. She worked as an Orientation Leader, Information Desk Supervisor, Senior Programming Assistant for the Dean of Students Office and Graduate Assistant of Operations of the Student Union Building. Melissa also served the community as part of the Office of Student Life Publicity Team, a Student Union Board member, Andrew Goodman Foundation Team Leader, Commuter Council President, Campus Planning and Steering Committee member and Admitted Students Day senior speaker.  Melissa also studied at Wroxton College. After graduation, Melissa plans to continue her studies as part of the 4+1 Combined Degree Advantage program and will earn her Master’s degree in Criminal Justice in 2020.

Christian Guevara-Rodriguez-Florham Campus

Christian Javier Guevara-Rodriguez, of Parsippany, NJ, will graduate with a double major in both Criminology and Sociology with a minor in Spanish Language and Literature. During his four years at FDU, he has successfully completed five internships in the field of criminal justice and worked three jobs while maintaining a high GPA. He served in the Student Government Association (SGA) and most recently held the position of Vice President of Student Affairs. Christian was part of the Honors Program since his freshman year and spent time mentoring the younger honors student. After graduation, he will be working with the Department of Justice and will attend graduate school to pursue his Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice at FDU’s Metropolitan Campus.

Natalia Alejandra Montano Gonzalez – Vancouver Campus

Natalia Alejandra Montano Gonzalez, from El Salvador, will graduate summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in International Business and a minor in Digital Marketing.  During her time at FDU Natalia has been very involved both on-and-off campus.  She was an active member of the Global Scholar’s Club where she actively served on committees, in seminars and at social events. She held an internship with the Consulate General of Brazil and studied abroad at IESEG School of Management in France, a top European business school. Off-campus she volunteers regularly at the Church in the Valley in Langley, BC. She continues to be engaged in activities with several humanitarian efforts in El Salvador. Upon finishing her studies, Natalia plans to pursue a career in Marketing.

About Fairleigh Dickinson University

Devoted to the preparation of world citizens through global education, Fairleigh Dickinson is New Jersey’s largest private university and features more than 100 liberal arts and professional degree programs, two international campuses, dozens of partnerships with internationally renowned institutions and special programs and status within the United Nations. For more information, please visit

MetLife Stadium provides extensive accommodations for those with disabilities and the FDU commencement stage is wheelchair accessible.

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