News & Announcements

Centenary to Hold 139th January Commencement: Actor/Entertainer Joe Piscopo Will Serve as Keynote Speaker

12/18/2013, 11:45 AM

Hackettstown, N.J. – Centenary College will hold its 139th January Commencement at 11 a.m. January 11, 2014, at the John M. Reeves Student Recreation Center.  The keynote speaker, actor and entertainer Joe Piscopo, will address Centenary’s graduating class of 191 students.

Joe Piscopo has won the acclaim and affection of millions through his work in television, film, theater and nightclubs over the past 25 years.  After stints as a disc jockey and dinner-theater performer, Piscopo turned to comedy.  In 1980, he was chosen to join a newly formed ensemble charged with one of the most difficult tasks in TV history –replacing the original cast of Saturday Night Live.

By the time he left his show in 1985, Piscopo had left his mark on the program, and the nation, thanks to his wide range of hilarious original characters and celebrity impersonations, from The Sports Guy and Doug Whiner to David Letterman, and, of course, Frank Sinatra, who repeatedly endorsed Piscopo’s portrayal of him, referring to Piscopo as “The Vice-Chairman of the Board.”

His work on Saturday Night Live naturally led to Hollywood.  He starred in smash hits, such as Wise Guys (with Danny DeVito) and Johnny Dangerously (with Michael Keaton).  Other film credits include Dead Heat, Sidekicks with Chuck Norris and a dramatic, critically acclaimed performance in Jonathan Parker’s Bartleby. Piscopo recently had the lead role of Jack Cosmo in the musical comedy How Sweet It Is with Paul Sorvino.  Two upcoming films of Piscopo’s are Joey Benefit and Bloomfield Avenue.

Piscopo started his own foundation called the Positive Impact Foundation, creating positive media for at-risk youth, including the syndicated television show for teens Positive Impact TV.  This groundbreaking series mixes education and entertainment to reinforce positive behavior and lifestyles among at-risk youth from both urban and suburban backgrounds. Piscopo has since merged his foundation with the Boys and Girls Club of New Jersey and is their proud statewide spokesman.

Piscopo received the Volunteer of the Year Award from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer County, N.J., and was the keynote speaker at the Big Brothers Big Sisters National Conference in Chicago.  In addition, Piscopo has received Community Service Awards from Boys and Girls Clubs in New Jersey and Florida and is especially proud to have been recognized by Boy’s Town of Italy in Rome.

For his support of our United States military forces, Piscopo was honored to receive the Commendation Medal, the highest civilian award from the state of New Jersey.

Honoring his parents and grandparents, who emigrated to this country, Piscopo continued the legacy of his heritage by receiving the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 1996.

“Jersey Joe” is also in the 2013 class of inductees to the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

Although Piscopo’s impressive career and public service include several major accomplishments, he insists his proudest achievement of all is twice being named Father of the Year, in 1983 by the National Father’s Day Council, and in 1989 by the New Jersey Council of Children’s Rights.

Piscopo holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast Management from Jones College in Jacksonville, Florida. He was inducted into the West Essex High School School of Distinction and received the Lincoln Center Student Arts Award while he was a student there.

“I am so pleased that we can honor Mr. Piscopo in this manner,” says Dr. Barbara-Jayne Lewthwaite, Centenary College President.  “The campus community and I look forward to hearing his address. I also would like to congratulate our graduates for their dedication and hard work, and want to welcome them as Centenary College alumni.”

The graduating class will include undergraduate and graduate students from the main campus in Hackettstown and the Centenary College School of Professional Studies learning centers in Parsippany and Edison.  Degrees that will be awarded to the 191 graduates participating in the ceremony are as follows: 16 Associate of Arts; 1 Associate of Science; 36 Bachelor of Arts; 2 Bachelor of Fine Arts; 44 Bachelor of Science; 23 Master of Arts; 2 Master of Education; and 67 Master of Business Administration.  Ten of the graduating seniors are from Centenary’s School of International Programs.
Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary College’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix is designed to provide an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world.

Centenary College’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township (Morris County).  The Centenary College School of Professional Studies offers degree programs in three locations: Hackettstown, Parsippany and Edison, and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.  The School of International Programs recruits international students for study at Centenary and Centenary students for study abroad.