WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. — Monmouth University held its annual Founders’ Day convocation on Wednesday, October 11, with an academic ceremony in the OceanFirst Bank Center that included the investiture of Grey J. Dimenna, Esq., as president of the university.
In addition to the formal ceremony conferring presidential authority to Dimenna, three friends of the university were honored for their accomplishments. Henry D. Mercer, III ’87, was awarded an honorary doctor of public service degree; William Elliott ‘95M, was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award; and John Lloyd was recognized with the Maurice Pollak Award for Distinguished Community Service.
President Dimenna, who was appointed as president in February by the Board of Trustees during a time of rapid growth, accepted his charge from Board Chair Michael Plodwick ’82, saying that he brings “an abiding passion for Monmouth” to the job and a desire to “see our university become the best version of itself that it can be.”
Dimenna’s tenure has included the establishment of the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music, the introduction of new graduate and undergraduate academic programs, and significant renovation and construction projects including the recently completed Henni Kantor Kessler & John H. Kessler Stadium and the university’s largest capital investment in academic facilities at the School of Science.
Prior to this appointment, Dimenna served the university as vice president and general counsel from 1995 to 2015.
Student Government Association president Nicholas Verzicco expressed his thanks to Dimenna for his visibility on campus. “Your desire to interact with the student body and put a face to the title ‘president’ has brought a new energy to [the campus],” he said.
Henry D. Mercer, III ’87, a trustee and former board chair from 2014 to 2017, is president and chief investment strategist of Mercer Capital Advisers Inc., which he founded in 1999. He was recognized at the ceremony with an honorary doctor of Public Service degree for his contributions to Monmouth University throughout his tenure.
He currently writes Mercer Capital’s quarterly investment strategy commentary and has been quoted in trade publications including Barron’s, Forbes, and Fortune. Mercer is an active participant in distance running both as competitor and coach.
Accepting his honorary degree, Mercer noted that completing his undergraduate education at Monmouth was a life-changing experience for him and one of the reasons he has remained closely connected to the university. As a non-traditional student Mercer earned the history department’s award for academic excellence. He and his wife, Joan, live in Locust, N.J., and have two married children and a grandson.
William “Bill” Elliott ’95M, chairman and CEO of the John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers, received the Distinguished Alumni Award at the ceremony. The organization, which seeks to end drunk driving tragedies by promoting the use of sober designated drivers, is named for Elliott’s son, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, who was killed by a drunken driver.
Since its inception 17 years ago, more than 100,000 designated drivers have signed up by taking the HERO pledge, and the campaign has won state and national awards for its positive and practical approach to preventing drinking and driving.
Elliott, who retired as vice president of development at Shore Medical Center in 2012 to devote his time to the HERO Campaign, holds a Master of Business Administration from Monmouth University and a Bachelor of Arts in Geology from the College of William and Mary. He lives in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. with his wife, Muriel.
During his remarks, Elliott singled out Vice President for Student Life and Leadership Engagement Mary Anne Nagy and Substance Awareness Coordinator Suanne Schaad for bringing the HERO Campaign to Monmouth University and for instituting the HERO of the Year program, which is now in its 10th year.
John K. Lloyd, co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, one of the largest and most comprehensive health networks in New Jersey, was honored with the Maurice Pollak Award for Distinguished Community Service in recognition of his 45 years of promoting excellence in health care.
“I am humbled to be honored with an award presented in the name of Maurice Pollak, who was the true embodiment of community service and philanthropy,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd previously served as president and CEO of Meridian Health, a $1.8 billion, New Jersey-based, not-for-profit integrated health system, encompassing Jersey Shore University Medical Center, K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital, Ocean Medical Center, Riverview Medical Center, Southern Ocean Medical Center, Bayshore Community Hospital, Raritan Bay Medical Center–Old Bridge, Raritan Bay Medical Center–Perth Amboy, and Meridian Partner Companies.
Former Board Chair Alfred Schiavetti, who introduced Lloyd for the award, noted that Meridian Health has acquired or built medical facilities within 10 minutes of every resident of Monmouth and Ocean counties under Lloyd’s leadership, representing an exponential increase in health care accessibility for the region.
Lloyd is a past recipient of the Medical Executive Award from the Academy of Medicine of New Jersey and Monmouth University’s Distinguished Business Leader Award. In 2009, Lloyd was recognized by the New Jersey Hospital Association as its Healthcare Professional of the Year. He is currently ranked among the most powerful health care leaders by NJBIZ and has been listed as one of the “130 Nonprofit Hospital and Health System CEOs to Know.”
The Pollak Award is named for former university life trustee and benefactor, Maurice Pollak, recognizing individuals with strong personal involvement in philanthropic and civic organizations, and significant contributions to community service.
Founders’ Day is a campus-wide event that celebrates Monmouth University’s founding in 1933. The first Founders’ Day was held in 1983 as a part of the university’s 50th anniversary celebration and has since become a university tradition.