A Commencement Overview

245th Commencement set for May 26

May 1, 2013  |  Media Contact: Darlene Trew Crist |  401-863-2752
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Brown University’s three-day Commencement/Reunion Weekend begins Friday, May 24, and concludes with the 245th Commencement exercises Sunday afternoon. The Commencement program, including names of all degree recipients, is available online.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — President Christina H. Paxson will preside over Brown University’s 245th Commencement on Sunday, May 26, 2013. The ceremony will begin with a procession composed of thousands of Brown University graduates, alumni, and faculty that will begin at the Van Wickle Gates and proceed down College Hill. The procession will cap a three-day Commencement and Reunion Weekend.

Most events on Saturday, May 25, and Sunday, May 26, are open to the public, although access to some venues is restricted due to space limitations. A summary of the weekend’s main events appears below. Additional information is available on the 2013 Commencement website; links to other sources of information will be added to this page as updates become available.

Editors: University-issued press credentials will be required for all reporters, photographers, videographers, and other media representatives. To register for credentials, call Jose Garcia in the Office of News and Communications at 401-863-2476 or send e-mail to media_relations@brown.edu. The reporter’s name, organization, telephone number, and e-mail address are required. Requests for credentials must be made by 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 22. Credentials will be available Thursday morning, May 23, at the Office of News and Communications, 71 George St.

In advance of the Commencement ceremonies on Sunday morning, most streets near campus will be designated one-way; many will be closed to vehicles. Access for live trucks and other vehicles must be scheduled prior to Friday, May 24. Space for media will be reserved on the College Green, and access to the audio signal will be provided. Credentials will be required for access to the press area.

Friday, May 24 through Sunday May 26, 2013

Class reunions

Brown is one of the few universities that hold reunions on the same weekend as commencement ceremonies. The concurrent scheduling allows alumni to welcome graduating students into the fold while also celebrating their own lifelong connection to the University. Thousands of Brown alumni will come to campus for a variety of social, academic, and celebratory events that will bring them together with classmates and with Brown students. A complete list of public reunion activities is available online: alumni.brown.edu/news_events/reunions/schedule.html.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Commencement Forums

Commencement Forums have been an integral part of Brown’s Commencement Weekend activities for the last 43 years. Faculty, alumni, and distinguished guests lead a series of academic colloquia, offering insight, expertise, and discussion across a variety of fields.

More than a dozen Commencement Forums will be held during four blocks on Saturday, May 25, (9 a.m., 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 3/3:30 p.m.) Topics will range from honorary degree recipient Stanley Falkow’s review of the impact of infectious diseases on history to Nobel Laureate and Brown alumnus Craig C. Mello’s presentation on how a worm the size of a comma has unlocked some secrets of inheritance and immortality. A panel discussion on the digital future of the news media will be moderated by the National Journal’s Ben Schreckinger, and another on how race and slavery play out in contemporary American life will be led by Anthony Bogues, director of Brown’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice. A list of times and venues for the forums is available online: brown.edu/about/commencement/about/commencement-reunion-forums.

Baccalaureate procession — 1:45 p.m.

The first formal academic procession of the weekend begins at 1:45 p.m. as graduating seniors make their way from the College Green to the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church in America.

Baccalaureate service — 2:30 p.m.
Meeting House of the First Baptist Church in America

Brown’s Baccalaureate tradition derives from the immense range of religious, ethnic, geographic, linguistic, and musical traditions present within the campus community. The ceremony includes rituals, readings, and prayers from Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, and animist traditions, as well as choral and instrumental music, the Chinese lion dance, poetry, dance, and Taiko and Senegalese drumming. Because the Meeting House can accommodate only the graduating class, the service will be simulcast for family and friends, who can watch it on the College Green, in the Salomon Center for Teaching, and in Sayles Hall.

The Baccalaureate speaker is Beverly Wade Hogan. Hogan is the first woman and 13th president to lead Tougaloo College in Jackson, Miss. Founded in 1869 by the American Missionary Association, this private, historically black liberal arts college has undergone transformation under her visionary care. Tougaloo College and Brown University will soon mark the 50th anniversary of a partnership that has provided for student and faculty exchanges, joint academic programs, a variety of other ongoing programs.

Military commissioning and reception — 4:30 p.m.
Rhode Island Hall, Room 108

Brown will honor two graduating seniors, Marcos Aranda and Heejung (Sarah) Park, for being commissioned as 2nd lieutenants in the U.S. Army and Air Force, respectively. Both were officially commissioned as participants in the Health Professions Scholarship Program earlier this year.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Commencement procession — 9:45 a.m.
The Van Wickle Gates

The University’s ceremonial Van Wickle Gates open twice a year: in the fall as new students enter campus and in the spring as graduates depart for the larger world beyond campus. The procession begins at 9:45 a.m. at the Van Wickle Gates.

In order to accommodate graduates, families, and friends who wish to take photographs, the Van Wickle Gates will remain open until 6 p.m. Monday, May 27.

The Graduate School Ceremony — 10:15 a.m.
Ruth J. Simmons Quadrangle

Peter M. Weber, dean of the Graduate School, will present advanced degrees at the Graduate School Ceremony, beginning at 10:15 a.m. The ceremony includes a Commencement address by a student elected by graduating students.

Benjamin J. Raymond, who will receive a Master of Arts in Teaching, specializing in secondary education English, is this year’s orator. His address is titled “Pride, Considered.”

Alpert Medical School Ceremony — 11:15 a.m.
First Unitarian Church

Dr. Edward J. Wing, dean of medicine and biological sciences, will preside over the 39th Commencement of the Alpert Medical School. Wing will administer the Physician’s Oath, a version of the Hippocratic Oath prepared by the M.D. Class of 1975, the school’s first graduating class. The ceremony will feature two addresses:

  • Dr. Bethany Gentilesco, clinical assistant professor of medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School, will deliver the faculty address titled “Everyone has two secrets,” tracing the educational path from undergraduate through residency and emerging a physician;
  • Jonathan Asher Treem will present the student oration titled “You are not a doctor,” about the importance and difficulty of preserving an expansive sense of self at the beginning of one’s medical career.

College Ceremony — 12:10 p.m.
Meeting House of the First Baptist Church in America

Since 1776, all but two Brown University Commencements have been held at the Meeting House. In 2006, when the graduating senior class had grown too large to be safely accommodated, the students voted to preserve the tradition by holding a portion of the Commencement ceremony on the church grounds. President Christina H. Paxson will greet the class, deliver brief remarks, and confer bachelor degrees on the church grounds. The ceremony will be videocast to the College Green, Salomon Center, and Sayles Hall.

University Ceremony — 1 p.m.
The College Green

The Commencement procession returns to the College Green, where the University ceremony begins. The University ceremony includes:

Student orators

Brown has a long-standing tradition of drawing from its student body to speak during the Commencement ceremony. Two members of the graduating class are chosen by a committee of students, faculty, and administrators to deliver orations at Commencement. This year’s orators, Elizabeth Mills and Tanayott Thaweethai were selected from an applicant pool of more than 100 students.

  • Elizabeth Mills, a history concentrator, will present an oration titled “Heads-up,” in which she encourages her fellow graduates to keep a Brown mentality as they go out into the world.
  • Tanayott Thaweethai, an applied math and biology concentrator, will suggest to his classmates that they find their passion among the many doors Brown has opened for them.

Honorary degrees

Honorary degrees are voted by the Board of Fellows of the Brown Corporation and conferred on the College Green. This year, the University will confer honorary doctorates on six candidates:

  • Benjamin Affleck, actor and director, Doctor of Fine Arts (D.F.A.);
  • Junot Díaz, author and editor, Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.);
  • Stanley Falkow, bacteriologist, Doctor of Science (Sc.D.);
  • Beverly Wade Hogan, president of Tougaloo College, Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.);
  • Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, physician and foundation president, Doctor of Medical Science (D.M.S.);
  • Eduardo J. Padrón, president of Miami Dade College, Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)

     

Awarding of diplomas

Graduating seniors receive their diplomas at more than 50 departmental ceremonies immediately following the University ceremony. Location information, including a map and key, is printed in the Commencement program.

Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews, and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call (401) 863-2476.