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Sister Gerardine Mueller, O.P.
Photo credit: Pushparaj Aitwal

University will Honor Centenarian Sister of St. Dominic, Essex County Executive “Joe D” and Healthcare Foundation of NJ

Caldwell, N.J., Aug. 2, 2021  – Caldwell University will host a gala to benefit student scholarships while honoring community leaders and celebrating the inauguration of President Matthew Whelan, Ed.D. as the University’s ninth president.  

Centenarian and Caldwell Dominican Sister Gerardine Mueller, O.P. ‘54, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. and the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey will be lauded at The Presidential Scholarship Gala, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, at the Pleasantdale Chateau, West Orange, New Jersey. 

“We are looking forward to a very special night to honor community leaders who have been committed to the state of New Jersey and excellence in education for our Caldwell University students,” said Kevin Boyle, vice president for development and alumni affairs. 

Sister Gerardine Mueller, O.P. ’54, turns 100 years old Sept. 16 and the University will continue its year-long celebration of her lifelong work of service and dedication as a Sister of Saint Dominic of Caldwell. Sister founded the Caldwell Art Department and has been a beloved artist-in-residence for more than 50 years. The work of this prolific and deeply gifted artist includes sculpture, stained glass, illumination and calligraphy, wood carvings and printmaking that can be seen on campus, around the state and the world. Her perseverance led what was then the Caldwell College for Women to offer the first Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in New Jersey, with the first diploma awarded in 1976.  

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. “Joe D” is being honored for his leadership of the county for nearly twenty years and in the COVID-19 response and recovery plan for Essex County. 

Joseph N. Divincenzo, Jr., Essex County Executive

“County Executive DiVincenzo addressed the public health emergency head-on. We are delighted to honor him for the exemplary leadership he showed at such a crucial time in our state and for all he has done to improve the quality of life for Essex County citizens over the past two decades,” said Boyle. 

DiVincenzo led in setting up COVID-19 testing sites, starting several megacenters to deliver the vaccine  through a centralized registration system, setting up mobile vaccination sites to reach vulnerable populations, ensuring that the county held weekly food distribution events, and seeing that grants were made available for small businesses, homeowners and nonprofits.  Among the many county initiatives DiVincenzo has spearheaded are: the attainment of a Aaa bond rating, the first time in Essex County’s history that the highest rating was achieved, the development of the Essex County of the Essex County South Mountain Recreational Complex,  the restoration of the Historic Courthouse, the  overhaul of  the Government Complex and the improvement of the Essex County Parks System. 

The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey (HFNJ) is being celebrated for its  support of the University’s Art Therapy Center, the School of Nursing, and the Counseling Center, and for advancing healthcare and mental health care initiatives in New Jersey.   As an advocate for nursing simulation, HFNJ made a leadership gift to purchase an adult simulation mannequin in conjunction with the grand opening of the University’s nursing simulation laboratory in 2011. As a champion for mental health initiatives, HFNJ supported Caldwell students by supporting a pilot program funding an advanced practice nurse position to authorize medication prescription and management on campus at the Wellness Center.  

“The Jewish qualities of tzedakah –charity and righteousness — and tikkun olam –repairing the world — have guided the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey since its beginnings. As a Catholic institution, we share the common missions of charity and service in striving to make the world a better place by ensuring that the next generation of health care providers can provide excellent health care and care for vulnerable populations,” said Boyle.       

“We are looking forward to celebrating these outstanding community leaders and President Whelan. We hope many people can join us to have an enjoyable evening and assist us in our mission of excellence in education for our students,” said Boyle.   

For details on the gala, go to

In addition to the gala the University will hold a number of inauguration activities to celebrate the campus community and Dr. Whelan, who came on board as president on July 1, 2020. The installation ceremony will be held Friday, Oct. 22.  Other activities will include lectures, a concert and an art exhibit that are free and open to the public. 

Some of the other inauguration activities include: 

Thursday, October 14-  Anne Goffin Smith Art Exhibit Opening Reception | 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Mueller Gallery / Hall of Flags 

Saturday, October 16

Admissions Open House | 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. 

Sprint football home game, Bonnel field, West Caldwell – 1 p.m. , Caldwell Cougars vs. Alderson Broaddus University 

Sunday, October 17 

Faculty Concert with Students and Alumni | 4 p.m. Alumni Theatre Dinner in the Den | 5:30 p.m. Student Center Dining Hall 

Weekly Campus Mass | 7 p.m. Sister Mary Dominic Tweedus Chapel 

Tuesday, October 19

“The History and Evolution of Catholic Women’s Colleges in the U.S.” Lecture by Marie Mullaney | 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. (In-person and Livestream) Westervelt Lecture Hall

Thursday, October 21 

Panel lecture-  “The Future of Catholic Universities and the Role of Liberal Arts in Higher Education Today” moderated by James Flynn, Ph.D., chair, Department of Theology and Philosophy | 3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. (In-person and Livestream) 

Friday, October 22

Inaugural Mass – 9 a.m. 

Installation Ceremony – 1 p.m. (in-person and livestream)

Saturday, October 23 

50th Anniversary Alumni Reunion – 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Celebrating the classes of ‘70, and ‘71 and paying tribute to ‘60, ‘61, ‘65, and ‘66 

To learn more about Reunion, please visit

For other events and locations, go to

For more information on events contact Jill Sheldon at | 973.618.3242