Doctor in the house

John Schreiber receives honorary doctorate in fine arts from Montclair State University.


John Schreiber, President and CEO of NJPAC, is usually the man who makes things happen behind the scenes at the Arts Center.


But he was escorted ceremoniously to center stage in Prudential Hall on May 22, when he was presented with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree at the Montclair State University Graduate School commencement.


Schreiber, who admitted to the crowd that he’d never graduated from college, said “this honor means more to me than you can imagine … I know my mother and father are smiling down from heaven, asking each other: ‘What took him so long?’”


As the featured speaker at the graduation ceremony, he exhorted the graduates—whatever their field—to expand the reach of their profession and work toward the common good “by always being curious, collaborative, inclusive, unaccepting of ‘the way things are,’ fearless and energetic.”


Schreiber gave examples from his own career, during which he moved from working as a producer of jazz and folk festivals, to the producer of arts events geared toward social justice aims, including blues festivals that raised funds to combat homelessness, a Broadway show that told the story of the Harlem Renaissance, and all-female comedy festivals that strove to raise funds to counteract domestic violence.


“You will have endless chances throughout your career to expand the impact and usefulness of your profession,” he told the students, who picked up master’s and doctorate degrees in everything from social work to marine biology.


“Take them! You may think of your degree as your chance to practice a profession and assure your future,” he said. “It's also your chance to change the world.”


May 23, 2018