Five Rutgers Alumni Tapped for Induction into the University’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni

Hall of Distinguished Alumni Inductees Announced
From left, Jeffrey Bluestone, Mike Emanuel, Patricia Devitt Risse, Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, and Wade J. Henderson.

The Rutgers University Alumni Association announced its new class of inductees consisting of renowned leaders in medicine, government, media, and civil rights.

Five influential Rutgers University graduates will be the newest members honored in the university’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni.

The new class, which will be inducted in a ceremony on April 25, are as follows:

  • Jeffrey Bluestone CC’74, GSNB’76, who earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s in microbiology at Rutgers, is an internationally recognized immunologist whose four decades of groundbreaking research have led to the development of multiple immunotherapies, including breakthroughs in treating autoimmunity, metastatic melanoma and other cancers, and diabetes.
  • Mike Emanuel RC’90, who graduated from Rutgers with a degree in communication, currently serves as Fox News Channel’s chief Washington correspondent and a co-anchor of Fox News Live. He joined the network in 1997 as a Los Angeles-based correspondent.
  • Wade J. Henderson NLAW’73, a graduate of Rutgers Law School in Newark, is a civil rights veteran and serves as an adviser to major corporations, foundations, and nonprofits on matters relating to civil and human rights, diversity, and inclusion. He has served as president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
  • Senator Raymond J. Lesniak RC’71, who earned a Rutgers degree in economics, served as an influential member of the New Jersey Legislature from 1978 through 2018. He is founder and president of the Lesniak Institute for American Leadership at Kean University.
  • Patricia Devitt Risse PHARM’85, GSNB’93, who completed undergraduate and doctoral degrees in pharmacy at Rutgers, has been a dynamic leader and founder of a company that supported the development of multiple innovative cancer treatments approved by the FDA and used by cancer patients today.

“Our remarkable incoming class of inductees into the Rutgers University Hall of Distinguished Alumni embodies our core values of academic excellence, building community, and the commitment to common good,” says Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway. “From making tremendous advances in health care and the treatment of cancer and other diseases, to leading state government and crafting transformational legislation, to reporting on national events for an audience of many millions, to ensuring fair treatment and civil rights of all, these five alumni exemplify what excellence looks like.”

Rutgers University Foundation President Kimberly A. Hopely says the new inductees show the power of education to improve lives in myriad ways. “All five of these inductees made their first steps toward their remarkable accomplishments as students at Rutgers University,” Hopely says. “These inductees are living examples of the human endowment that Rutgers creates, benefitting so many in New Jersey, the United States, and the world.”

Introduced in 1987, the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni’s first class of inductees included Paul Robeson and two Nobel Prize winners—economist Milton Friedman and scientist Selman Waksman. Since then, more than 200 alumni have been inducted, including five former New Jersey governors, Emmy Award-winning actor Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Carli Lloyd, a professional soccer star who led the U.S. team to two Olympic gold medals. Inductees are selected by the Rutgers University Alumni Association (RUAA) Board of Directors, which presides over an association of Rutgers alumni worldwide.

“Our dynamic Rutgers University alumni body of nearly 600,000 graduates embodies strategic strength and intentional inclusivity, steering impactful change across diverse fields daily,” says Gloria Vanderham, RC’00, SCILS’00, chair of the RUAA. “Among an accomplished pool of nominees, these five inductees distinguish themselves, showcasing unparalleled accomplishments and resilience, defining our collective impact. We are privileged to have the opportunity to celebrate their achievements.”

The most recent Hall of Distinguished Alumni class, inducted in November 2022, included Judith Persichilli NUR’76, a nursing alumna who served as New Jersey Commissioner of Health during the pandemic.

The five new inductees will be honored and formally enshrined into the Hall of Distinguished Alumni in a ceremony starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 25, at the Stone House at Stirling Ridge in Warren, New Jersey.

For more information, visit the Hall of Distinguished Alumni page.