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Caldwell University welcomed the class of 2026 and transfer students at New Student Convocation Aug. 29.  

Peter Ubertaccio, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs, said the event is a  collective opportunity to look toward the university’s future and a time to recall the University’s history.   “That history of faith and reason, service and scholarship dates back through the founding of Caldwell University in 1939, through the extraordinary life of St. Catherine of Siena, and back further to the birth of St. Dominic in 1170.” The rich tradition with the continued sponsorship of the University’s founders,  the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, invites the university community, said Ubertaccio,  “to deepen our studying,” by living and teaching the mysteries of the universe and the sacredness of all creation.

Student Government Association Vice President Amarilex Davis Gerena and President Matthew Whelan processing out of New Student Convocation. Gerena delivered the SGA welcome remarks.

In welcoming the students, President Matthew Whelan, Ed.D., said there will be hard work ahead and special times.  That time will pass, he said, “before you know it” so he encouraged them to take the time to look at life and the little things. 

“If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that the simple things are what sustain us,”  said Dr. Whelan. Students can do that, he said, by finding the “small places that create beauty” on campus and learning about the University’s tradition and mission built by the Sisters of St. Dominic. He encouraged them to cherish the time outside the classroom just as much as the time in the classroom.  “These are the moments that will motivate you.”    He told the students that he wanted to give them “four gifts”–the  University’s core values of “respect, integrity, community, and excellence,” which are important guides when the path of life becomes difficult, and values needed to succeed in an ever-changing world.  

Dr. Whelan inspired the students with a couple of tasks. First, he challenged them to ask themselves “What is the future I dream of?” and to think about whether the path they are on will help them to achieve their goals. Secondly, he encouraged each student to take a walk around campus, to notice the little things, and to look for the promise of Caldwell in all they do.

The Invocation Prayer was given by student Anthony Del Debbio ’24.

The Student Government Association (SGA) remarks were delivered by SGA Vice President Amarilex Davis Gerena. 

The new students received a special pendant with an image on the pin representing the relationship between the founders of the university, the Sisters of St. Dominic, and Caldwell University. Dr. Stephanie L. Sitnick, Alvin R. Calman, associate professor of psychology and co-director of the Honors Program, explained the history and importance of the University seal.  

Ubertaccio recognized students who had made the Dean’s list for both semesters of last year and encouraged the incoming students to strive to be honored next year. 

The class of 2026 Prayer was read by freshmen Gamael and Samael Joseph.

Music was provided by the Caldwell University Drumline, led by Marching Band Director Rebecca Vega, percussion instructor Joseph Bergen and drum captain Sonia Casiano. The Star Spangled Banner and Dominican Blessing was sung by the Caldwell University Chorale under the direction of director, music faculty Laura Greenwald. 

Students, faculty and staff gather in the Newman Center for New Student Convocation
Students, faculty and staff gather in the Newman Center for New Student Convocation.


The red indicates the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the gold points to His kingship. The motto on it “Sapientia et Scientia,” means wisdom and knowledge is derived from the Litany of the Sacred Heart. Caldwell University was founded in 1939 by the Sisters of St. Dominic which the coat of arms reflects. The coat of arms captures the significance of a Caldwell University education in its colors, its motto, and its symbols.  The red indicates the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the gold points to his Kingship.  The motto– Sapientia et Scientia (wisdom and knowledge)–is  imprinted on an open book which symbolizes Caldwell University as an institution of learning.  The motto is derived from the Litany of the Sacred Heart.  The cross, which divides the whole into four parts, is taken from the coat of arms of the Order of Preachers (those who are the followers of St. Dominic) and it shows the relationship of the Sisters of St. Dominic as members of the Order of Preachers to Caldwell University. The golden sun, which is found in the upper left corner,  is the symbol of St. Thomas Aquinas, patron of all Catholic schools and particular patron of Caldwell University.

Class of 2026 Prayer 

God of every journey, every path writes a story, every step today marks the road for tomorrow and every choice will tell the tale of our lives. We are the classes of 2026. We come filled with the life and energy ready to learn, to seek, and to build the story of our lives together. We will tell it in the richness of our cultures, we will live it in the fire that burns in our hearts. The road opens wide before us; accompany us as we journey. Give light to our desires and wisdom to our choices. We come seeking knowledge and truth to become leaders who work for social justice and welcome the stranger as we collaborate in the service of our neighbor. Make every day we spend at Caldwell University a day of transformation and hope for our humanity. Make our efforts fruitful and protect us every day from harm. Amen.

New undergraduate students: 500
First year students:
56% female, 44% male.
International students: 22%
Living on campus – 44%
Most popular majors: Nursing, Computer Science, Criminal Justice, Business Administration, Psychology, Public Health Education and Biology.