Governor Chris Christie Urges SHU Graduates to be “Disruptors”
The Governor of New Jersey delivers the commencement speech in front of thousands at the IZOD Center.
Governor Chris Christie arrived to the IZOD Center today to give the commencement address for Seton Hall University’s 154th graduating class. Coming to the podium amid polite applause from the audience and a chorus of boos from part of the graduating class, Christie, a 1987 graduate of Seton Hall Law, spoke about the importance of public service.
Christie spoke of a New York Times Magazine cover from February 2011 that referred to him as “The Disruptor.” During the address, he defined what he feels a disruptor is;
“I see a disruptor as someone who is willing to challenge the status quo, someone questioning why things are done a certain way,” Christie stated during the address. “Someone who has not been satisfied with the answer ‘it’s just because we’ve always been done that way,’ someone who is willing to mix it, who’s willing to dare a culture of complacency, someone who is willing to break down obstacles standing in the way of change that they believe in their heart will be positive.”
As Seton Hall’s 2,281 graduates listened to Christie speak, he went on to encourage the graduates to make a difference in the world. “What we are describing is the challenge placed before an educated person. The obligation I think you have today because of the education you have received at this university is to be a disruptor,” said Christie. “Be a disrupter in the way your heart and mind tells you to be a disrupter. To be a disrupter in the way your education gives you the sense that disruption is needed.”
Several students took Christie’s advice to heart by disrupting the governor himself. There were many audible catcalls and one student yelled “shut up” very clearly for the governor to hear. A majority of the boos came from the graduates of the Seton Hall College of Education and Human Services. Christie has had very public battles with the state’s teachers’ unions and has proposed many cuts to education.
During the 16-minute address, Christie chose to remain non-partisan in the words he spoke, instead addressing the challenges facing the students in a broad sense. “This is not an ‘obvious era.’ The challenges are not obvious,” Christie told the graduates. “Now more than ever when the issues are a lot less clear and are a lot more diverse and challenging, we can’t drift without direction, we can’t let complacency rule because there is not one distinct obvious fight that we as a people need to take on. In fact I will tell you that this is the time we need educated people even more.”
Following the ceremony, students seemed to have mixed emotions about the governor’s speech. “His speech was more about him than the graduates,” said Brian Wisowaty, member of the Class of 2011. “That’s a big no-no for a graduation.”
In addition to the governor, the university also honored Father Robert F. O’Toole with an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. O’Toole is the former President of the Gregorian University Foundation and is currently serving as the Interim Superior of the Jesuit Community at America House.
As the graduates prepared to leave the university and start their lives, Governor Christie offered some final words of encouragement; “Do not take today's accomplishment lightly. As from your early enthusiasms, both from your cheers and your other expressions, I can tell that you are not taking it lightly.”