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Who’s Giving Rhode Island Grads Advice This Year?

Wednesday, May 07, 2014


Commencement season 2014 is underway, and that means for soon-to-be college graduates, hearing from notable graduation speakers on the big diploma day. 

GoLocal has who's giving the big talks -- and who the colleges are giving out honorary degrees to as well.

Who's Speaking in Rhode Island?

Notable speakers this year include Dr. Temple Grandin, who will will speak at Providence College, Richard Saul Wurman at Salve Regina, and Richard Blanco at URI.

Below is list of commencement speakers and notable honorary degree getters at colleges and universities in the state this graduation season. 


Related Slideshow: Who’s Giving The Grads Advice This Year?

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 Brown University

Sunday, May 25

Commencement speakers:

  • Caroline Bologna ’14, Brown tour guide and managing editor for post-Magazine
  • Josh Block ’14, Brown tour guide and managing editor for post-Magazine

Honorary degrees:

  • Beatrice E. Coleman ’25, schoolteacher, church musician, and former secretary of the NAACP’s New England Regional Conference (awarded posthumously);
  • Jeffrey Eugenides ’82, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and author;
  • Arthur Horwich ’72, M.D.’75, physician, geneticist, and cellular biochemist;
  • Mary Lou Jepsen ’87, Ph.D. ’97, electrical engineer and innovator of computer-driven graphic displays;
  • Debra L. Lee ’76, chairman and CEO of BET Networks;
  • Lois Lowry ’58, award-winning children’s author;
  • Nalini Nadkarni ’76, forest ecologist and science communicator; and
  • Thomas Perez ’83, civil rights attorney and U.S. secretary of labor.



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Bryant University

Saturday, May 17

Commencement speaker: Richard W. Fisher, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee

Honorary degrees:

  • Richard W. Fisher will address graduating seniors and guests at Bryant's undergraduate exercises on May 17;
  • Robert A. DiMuccio, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Amica Mutual Insurance Company. DiMuccio will speak at the Graduate School of Business and Graduate Programs in Arts and Sciences ceremony on May 15;
  • Joyce M. Roché, president and CEO of the 150-year-old nonprofit organization Girls Inc.;
  • Scott C. Donnelly, the chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Textron Inc.
Richard W. Fisher, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, the nation’s principal monetary policy making group. Fisher will address graduating seniors and guests at Bryant's undergraduate exercises on May 17;
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Johnson & Wales University

Saturday, May 24

Commencement speaker: Robert J. Palleschi, Global Head, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Worldwide

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New England Institute of Technology

Sunday, May 4

Commencement speaker: Kathy Ireland, former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model

Honorary degrees: Cheryl Merchant, president and chief executive officer of Rhode Island’s Hope Global

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Providence College

Sunday, May 18

Commencement speaker: Dr. Temple Grandin, autism awareness advocate, leading innovator in the livestock industry, bestselling author and engineer

Honorary degrees:

  • Dr. Temple Grandin
  • The Honorable Francis J. Darigan, Jr. ’64, retired justice from the Superior Court of Rhode Island
  • Raymond M. Murphy, entrepreneur and philanthropist
  • Sister Margaret Ormond, O.P., prioress of the Congregation of Dominican Sisters of Peace
  • Carolyn Rafaelian, acting CEO of Alex and Ani
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Rhode Island College

Saturday, May 17

Commencement speaker: Valerie Tutson, founder and director of both Rhode Island Black Storytellers and FUNDA Fest: A Celebration of Black Storytelling

Honorary degrees:

  • Valerie Tutson
  • Oscar Herbert, CEO of the Warwick-based Atrion
  • Peter Arpin, partner in Arpin International Group and president of Arpin Renewable Energy and Arpin Broadcast Network.
  • Centenarian Irene Kenny, RIC Class of 1935
  • Dr. Charles MacDonald, chair of the Department of Dermatology at Brown University
  • John Hazen White Jr., CEO and president of Taco Inc.
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Saturday, May 31

Commencement speaker: Bruce Mau, innovator, designer, author, and co-founder of Massive Change Network

Honorary degrees:

  • Bruce Mau
  • Todd Oldham, author and founder of Todd Oldham Studio
  • Jean Kennedy Smith, former US Ambassador to Ireland
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Roger Williams University

Saturday, May 17 

Commencement speaker: Governor Lincoln D. Chafee, Rhode Island

Honorary degrees:

  • Governor Lincoln D. Chafee, Rhode Island
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian
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Salve Regina University

Sunday, May 18

Commencement speaker: Richard Saul Wurman, founder of TED conference

Honorary degrees: Richard Saul Wurman

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University of Rhode Island

Saturday, May 17:

Commencement speaker: Richard Blanco, inaugural poet for President Obama’s second inauguration

Honorary degrees:

  • Richard Blanco, U.S. Inaugural Poet who will speak at commencement will receive an Honorary Doctor of Letters
  • LTG Michael T. Flynn, director of Intelligence, United States Defense Intelligence Agency, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Bernard LaFayette Jr., Civil Rights leader, Candler School of Theology at Emory University, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Anne Nolan, president and chief executive officer of Crossroads Rhode Island, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

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And so,
to all you graduates...
as you go out into the world
my advice to you is...
don't go!
It's rough out there.
Move back with your parents.
Let them worry about it.


Comment #1 by LENNY BRUCE on 2014 05 07

If they actually worked for their degree they will know exactly what to do first, leave RI and don't come back.
Most colleges teach some level of economics and that instills the fear of instability that exists in RI, there is no chance that a graduate would want to stay in RI and their RI families made that clear to them before investing in their education.
Thank you Governor Chafee and the incompetent wonders in the GA for creating a compelling case to start out in another part of the USA or world.

Comment #2 by Gary Arnold on 2014 05 07

it is absolutely amazing when i attend social functions and people bring up the topic of getting their children out of ri after college.

they all say its a great place to live but there is nothing here for the future of their children.

the can has been pushed down the road so long...its at the end of its journey. i hope all leaders realize that the collapse is not going to be 10-20 years from now but just a few years away and that will be their legacy.

Comment #3 by john paycheck on 2014 05 07

If you’re like many Americans, you’ve probably always wanted your child to get a degree from the prestigious Brown University, but are concerned about that institution’s well-known Marxist-Communist ideology and don’t want your kid to be brainwashed while trying to get your degree . Well, your day is just about to be made, because now they can get a degree from Glen Beck University, founded by the conservative intellectual Glenn Beck!
Despite the refusal of the lamestream higher education racket to acknowledge its awesomeness, Beck University is an august body of higher learning; you can tell because of its extremely official looking logo. While they would need to trudge to classes for four years to get a so-called “bachelor’s degree” from Brown, Yale or whatever, they can earn your Doctorate of Beckology right from their mom's basement,

Comment #4 by Sammy Arizona on 2014 05 07

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