<p>Chief Marshal Martha Sharp Joukowsky, a 1958 alumna, will lead more than 6,000 people down College Hill during Brown University’s 240th Commencement, which takes place on Sunday, May 25, 2008. The Commencement procession is one of the nation’s largest and most colorful academic pageants and caps Brown’s Commencement/Reunion Weekend.</p>

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — On Sunday morning, May 25, 2008, Commencement Chief Marshal Martha Sharp Joukowsky, a 1958 graduate of Brown and professor emerita of Old World archaeology and art, will lead thousands of graduates, accompanied by an entourage of bagpipers, Highland drummers, and the Brown Band, in a procession that will mark the beginning of Brown University’s 240th Commencement exercises and the conclusion of Brown’s celebration-packed Commencement/Reunion Weekend.

President Ruth J. Simmons, members of the Brown Corporation, honorary degree recipients, faculty, alumni, and the graduating classes of the College, the Graduate School and the Medical School will march through the ceremonial Van Wickle Gates, which opened inward to admit the Class of 2008 four years ago and now open outward for the graduates’ symbolic march into the world beyond Brown.

After thousands march through the gates, the graduates will take part in Sunday-morning Commencement exercises, including three separate convocation ceremonies prior to the University exercises back on The College Green:

• graduate students will gather at 10:30 a.m. on Lincoln Field, where Sheila Bonde will preside as dean of the Graduate School;
• medical students will gather at 11:15 a.m. in the First Unitarian Church for their degree ceremonies and the administration of the Physician’s Oath by Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences Eli Y. Adashi, M.D.;
• undergraduates will congregate by noon on the grounds of the First Baptist Church in America.

A short ceremony for graduating seniors will begin on the grounds of the church. A student will perform the National Anthem, and the University chaplain will deliver the invocation.

These ceremonial events, approximately 15 minutes in length, will be simulcast with closed captioning to The College Green via two large video screens. In addition, the College ceremony will be broadcast to the Salomon Center, Sayles Hall, and Meehan Auditorium. The University also provides 12,000 chairs on The College Green for graduates and their guests.

Following the conferral of the degrees at the church, the president and the senior class will recess from the church grounds and return to The College Green.

Additional information on the weekend is available at the Commencement Web site: www.brown.edu/commencement.

The University Ceremony

By 12:45 p.m., the seniors will have found their way to The College Green for the University Ceremony and the ritual presentation of symbolic degrees by the president. In all, President Simmons will deliver formal Latin salutations to about 1,600 baccalaureate candidates, present symbolic degrees to representatives of the Brown Graduate School and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and confer honorary doctorates upon seven candidates for honorary degrees. Flags from 61 nations, representing the home countries of the Class of 2008 from Argentina to Vietnam, will be flown during the University Ceremony.

During the University Ceremony the following events take place:

• the Senior Orations;
• the conferring and awarding on honorary degrees and the reading of the honorary degree citations;
• the presentation by the president of symbolic degrees to one graduating student in each degree category: baccalaureate, master, medical doctor, and doctor of philosophy;
• the conferring of Masters of Arts ad eundum on those full-time faculty who have been appointed or promoted to the ranks of professor, associate professor or senior lecturer who hold no other Brown degree and who have been at the University or at an affiliated hospital for at least one academic year.

Storm Plan

The Commencement procession will be cancelled only in the event of severe storm conditions. If the storm plan is in effect, a yellow pennant will be flown from the flagpole on The College Green. An announcement will also appear on the University’s home page (www.brown.edu). In this event, the University Ceremony is not held, and the presentation of symbolic baccalaureate degrees and the conferral of honorary degrees will take place in the Pizzitola Sports Center in a version of the College Ceremony, which will be simulcast to the Salomon Center, Sayles Hall, Meehan Auditorium and The College Green for parents and guests. The Graduate School and Alpert Medical School ceremonies will be held in their respective locations, which are tented or indoors. The departmental diploma ceremonies will be held in their assigned locations immediately following the College Ceremony.


Nearly 5,000 Brown alumni/ae, friends and family are expected to the campus for reunion celebrations surrounding Commencement. Further information on reunion activities is available from the Commencement Information Hotline: (401) 863-7000.

A Synopsis of Commencement/Reunion Weekend Schedule

Friday, May 23

Campus Dance, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on The College Green. At midnight, an informal singing of the Alma Mater will take place on Sayles Hall steps.

Saturday, May 24

All-Class Memorial Service, 8:30 a.m. in Sayles Hall, remembers classmates who have died since their classes’ last reunion.

Commencement Forums begin at 9:30 a.m. in various locations. Twenty-one 50-minute forums will feature a range of topics, from human rights to urban planning to exploration of Mars and the Moon.

The 2008 Baccalaureate Service begins at 3 p.m. in the First Baptist Church in America. The service is preceded by a colorful procession at 2:30 p.m. Author and publisher Dave Eggers, a 2005 honorary degree recipient, will deliver the address, which will be simulcast to The College Green, Sayles Hall and the Salomon Center.

The Brown University-sponsored WaterFire begins at sundown along the Providence River.

Sunday, May 25

Commencement Procession formation begins at 9:30 a.m.

Commencement Procession, with its traditional walk through the Van Wickle Gates, steps off at Faunce Arch on The College Green at 9:45 a.m.

The Graduate School Convocation Ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. on Lincoln Field, Dean of the Graduate School Sheila Bonde presiding.

The Alpert Medical School Convocation Ceremony begins at 11:30 a.m. in the First Unitarian Church, Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences Eli Y. Adashi, M.D., presiding.

The College Ceremony begins at noon on the grounds of the First Baptist Church in America, President Ruth J. Simmons presiding.

The University Ceremony begins at 12:45 p.m. and includes senior orations and the awarding of symbolic and honorary degrees, President Ruth J. Simmons presiding.

Undergraduates receive their diplomas at departmental ceremonies at various locations, immediately following the conclusion of the University Ceremony.

4 p.m. Departmental ceremonies conclude.

For News Media

Additional Commencement news will be released during May. Contact Media Relations at (401) 863-2476 or consult the Media Relations Web site for updates.

University-issued press credentials are recommended for any events that are open to press. Media representatives may register for credentials with Elaine Beebe by calling (401) 863-2478 or sending an e-mail to [email protected]. Credentials require the reporter’s name, organization represented, and contact information for both telephone and e-mail. Credentials must be ordered by Wednesday, May 21 and may be picked up at the Office Media Relations (Nicholson House, 71 George Street), beginning Thursday, May 22.

The Commencement Information Hotline is (401) 863-7000. It offers tickets and more specific information about many of the activities planned for Commencement weekend.