Press Release

Alum Telfar Clemens Addresses Grads at 2023 Pace University Commencement

May 16, 2023
Telfar Clemens at Pace University's 2023 Commencement ceremony.

Senator Elizabeth Warren:
‘Have Courage. Trust Yourself. Give it a Try.’

Pace celebrates more than 3,700 graduates at
USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

Standing before thousands of graduates and their supporters at Pace University’s Commencement, alumnus Telfar Clemens ’08 yesterday spoke of his path from a student finding his way in lower Manhattan to a celebrated fashion designer and founder of the global label Telfar.

But he didn’t want to focus on the obvious.

“They worked hard,” Clemens said of his parents and members of his family who attended Pace. “I worked hard. What has been so hard is not the work, but everything in between … I didn’t make it into the fashion industry. I made it out.”

Speaking to roughly 15,000 people including 3,700 graduates at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, the Pace grad shared his reasons for attending Pace and memories of pursuing a business degree while following his passion for fashion and the subsequent path to building a global brand that is at the forefront of a revolution and has set a new standard.

Clemens, who received an honorary doctorate, was among many highlights throughout the day that included five ceremonies, student speakers, a food village, music, and lots of Commencement festivities. The day was highlighted by the conferral of over 4,000 degrees including 1,735 masters’, which is the largest number in over five years, and roughly 300 students receiving dual degrees.

In addition, the Elisabeth Haub School of Law, which recently earned the No. 1 ranking for Environmental Law by U.S. News & World Report, graduated 241 students, its largest class in the past five years.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and Harvard Law Professor and legal historian Bruce H. Mann both received honorary degrees during that ceremony. Senator Warren shared stories of her early years out of law school and threaded her speech with a simple yet powerful message.

“Be courageous,” Warren said. “That means trust yourself. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t settle for work that you don’t believe in. Don’t assume that you can’t make a difference …

“Have courage,” she continued. “Take a risk because our nation–our world–needs you. Have courage for another reason: Because–and here is the amazing part–for all that you give, for all your risk, for all the scary stuff you take on and even for all the failures, you will receive far more than you give.”

Trustee and alumnus Ivan G. Seidenberg ’81, retired chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications, addressed graduates of Pace’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems to mark the school’s 40th anniversary. Pace also awarded Aldrin Enis, president of One Hundred Black Men of New York, with its Opportunitas in Action Award.

During the main ceremony, Pace President Marvin Krislov called this year’s class a “remarkable” group and noted some of the challenges they faced during their time in school such as the pandemic, climate challenges, mental health pressures, and other challenges around the world.

“The problems of tomorrow will not be solved by the thinking of the past,” President Krislov said. “They will be solved by new people, with new ideas, and new ways of doing things. They will be solved by a new generation that is creative and resourceful and adaptive. Your generation was knocked down, and then you stood right back up. You know how to think on your feet, how to adjust on the fly, how to make the best of any situation. You know how to get to a goal like graduation, even through a once-in-a-century disruption.”

Students celebrating this exciting achievement were a mix of undergraduate, graduate, law, and doctoral students, spanning a variety of disciplines and future careers, such as nurses and physician assistants, cybersecurity experts, lawyers, accountants, teachers, performers, and much more.

Number of graduates by school

College of Health Professions

  • Undergraduate: 275
  • Graduate: 360

Dyson College of Arts and Sciences

  • Undergraduate: 747
  • Graduate: 346

Lubin School of Business

  • Undergraduate: 498
  • Graduate: 449

Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems

  • Undergraduate: 108
  • Graduate: 323

School of Education

  • Undergraduate: 11
  • Graduate: 360

Elisabeth Haub School of Law

  • 253 JD degrees
  • 8 Master of Laws in Comparative Legal Studies
  • 12 Master of Laws in Environmental Studies
  • 1 Doctor of Juridical Science

About Pace University

Since 1906, Pace University has been transforming the lives of its diverse students—academically, professionally, and socioeconomically. With campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York, Pace offers bachelor, master, and doctoral degree programs to 13,600 students in its College of Health Professions, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Lubin School of Business, School of Education, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems.

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