PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Former San Francisco State University President Robert A. Corrigan will deliver the 2015 Baccalaureate address at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 23, 2015, in the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church in America.
Because the graduating class will fill the Meeting House to capacity, Corrigan’s address, titled “Dare to be a Daniel,” and the entire Baccalaureate service will be simulcast to the College Green, where family and friends of the graduates may view the proceedings on a large-format video display.
Corrigan, a 1957 graduate of Brown, earned a reputation as one of the nation’s foremost academic leaders. He served as the 12th president of San Francisco State University from 1988 until his retirement in 2012. Previously, Corrigan had served as chancellor of the University of Massachusetts-Boston and provost at the University of Maryland.
Throughout his career, Corrigan emphasized civic engagement and the application of university expertise to community issues. During his tenure at San Francisco State, the university was designated a “Community Engagement Institution” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and earned a spot on President Obama’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition for commitment to community service.
Diversity in both the student body and faculty increased substantially during Corrigan’s time at San Francisco State. At the close of his tenure, people of color constituted 70 percent of the student body and 41 percent of the faculty. In 2012, the publication Diverse: Issues in Higher Education presented Corrigan with the John Hope Franklin Award for his lifetime contributions to higher education.
As an English professor at the University of Iowa, Corrigan founded the Universities Afro-American Studies program, one of the first such programs in the United States. He also published the first full-scale bibliography of Afro-American fiction for that emerging discipline.
After earning his bachelor’s degree from Brown, Corrigan went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania. Brown will confer an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters on Corrigan at the May 24 Commencement ceremony on the College Green.
The Baccalaureate Service
The Baccalaureate Service, with roots in medieval academic tradition, honors the achievements of the candidates for the bachelor’s (“bacca”) degree by presenting them with the laurels (“lauri”) of oration. Brown’s baccalaureate tradition derives from the wide 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.
The service is conducted in the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church in America, completed in 1775 “for the Publick Worship of Almighty God, and also for holding Commencement in.” Significant portions of the University’s Commencement ceremonies have been held in the church ever since.
A Prayer of Thanksgiving given by the University chaplain will include a remembrance of faculty and students who died during their time at Brown.
Past speakers have included human rights crusader Kenneth Roth; international correspondent David Rohde; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; theologian Gustavo Gutierrez, foreign policy commentator Fareed Zakaria; Tony Award-winning actress Phylicia Rashad; former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; and Tougaloo College President Beverly Wade Hogan.