Honorary degrees to be awarded to visionary, entrepreneurial leaders
KINGSTON, R.I. — April 24, 2013 — The University of Rhode Island will celebrate the achievements of its students, and salute the accomplishments of five distinguished citizens at its 127th commencement exercises on Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19, 2013.
In recognition of their unique contributions to the University, the people of the State of Rhode Island, and the nation, the University will confer Honorary Doctorate degrees upon Carolyn Rafaelian and Giovanni Feroce, the founder and CEO, respectively, of Alex and Ani. These well known entrepreneurs are affiliated with the University and are firmly committed to their home state, Rhode Island. Feroce, URI class of 1991, will address the graduating class and Rafaelian will share a few words with the graduates as well.
Honorary Doctorate degrees will also be conferred upon Mary Kennard, Esq., Vice President and General Counsel, of American University, who was a former vice president at the University of Rhode Island; Robert A. DiMuccio, Chairman, President, CEO, Amica Mutual Insurance Company; and Franklin Wallace Simon, President, The Simon Companies.
At the Graduate Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 18, honorary degree recipient Mary E. Kennard will address the graduating class. The award-winning attorney, who worked at the University of Rhode Island earlier in her career, specializes in areas of law related to higher education administration.
Giovanni Feroce, Chief Executive Officer, Alex and Ani: As Chief Executive Officer of Alex and Ani, Giovanni Feroce is well known for his entrepreneurial style and innovative leadership. A retired, highly honored United States Army Major who served two tours in Iraq and as an operations officer at U.S. Central Command, Feroce also has had more than 20 years of experience in the retail and consumer products industries. Before taking the helm at Alex and Ani in 2010, he was the Chairman and CEO of Retail Eyewear, Inc., and the developer of software for use by eye care professionals and suppliers.
A leading public speaker, Feroce is also nationally known for his efforts to reinvigorate American manufacturing and Alex and Ani is his role model for success. Even the White House has taken note of his efforts.
Feroce graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. One year after graduating, Feroce served as one of the nation’s youngest state senators. He later attended The United States John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School; the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Advanced Management Program; and other academic institutions and leadership programs.
Under his powerful leadership, Alex and Ani has made a significant impact on the local economy, bringing renewed optimism to entrepreneurs, students, manufacturers, artists and more in Rhode Island and beyond.
In recognition of his years of public service and his innovative business strategies combined with his unwavering support for the people and the State of Rhode Island, Giovanni Feroce will be awarded the Doctorate of Business, Honoris Causa.
Carolyn Rafaelian, Founder and Creative Director, Alex and Ani: An innovative designer and trendsetter, Carolyn Rafaelian is building much of Rhode Island’s future through its glittering past.
Having studied at URI for two years and at the American College in London, Rafaelian launched Alex and Ani in 2004. Her patented signature bangles, rings and necklaces soon caught the attention of major fashion magazine editors, celebrities and eager buyers across the country. Since opening her first store in Newport in 2010, Alex and Ani’s presence can be seen worldwide.
Part of Alex and Ani’s signature is the positive, empowering energy instilled in each creation. This positive energy has fueled the company’s growth. What began as a business designing individualized pieces has grown into a true lifestyle brand, with a unifying, vital force enhancing everything from their products to marketing to education and more.
One need not look far to see the impact that this young company has had on its home state and beyond. Rafaelian and Alex and Ani are a testament to what truly happens “Only in Rhode Island.”
In recognition of her entrepreneurial spirit, vision and commitment to sharing her creative energy with the people of the State of Rhode Island and the world, Rafaelian will be awarded the Doctorate of Business, Honoris Causa.
Robert A. DiMuccio, Chairman, President, CEO, Amica Mutual Insurance Company: Nationally recognized for his leadership in an industry built upon trust, Robert A. DiMuccio is well known for “doing the right thing” and inspiring all employees to do just that. This philosophy is what has helped Amica Mutual Insurance Company become a leader in the competitive auto and home insurance markets nationwide. It has also helped to reinvent the industry itself. He has testified before Congress on issues relevant to the insurance and financial services industry.
DiMuccio has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Amica Mutual Insurance Company since 2005 and has held the title of Chairman since 2009. He joined Amica in 1991 as a Vice President and has held a variety of positions of progressive responsibility, including Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer.
Prior to joining Amica, DiMuccio was an audit partner with the public accounting firm of KPMG LLP, with experience in audits of public and non-public companies including banking and insurance companies. DiMuccio received a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Providence College.
In recognition of his leadership in Rhode Island and nationwide, DiMuccio will be awarded the Doctor of Business, Honoris Causa.
Mary E. Kennard, Esq., Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, American University: Kennard brings her years of rich experience to the University as chief legal counsel, to her students at the Washington College of Law, and also to college administrators nationwide.
Before joining American University in 1995, Kennard served for eight years as a vice president and general counsel for the University of Rhode Island. She was the University’s first female African American Vice President and was actively involved in highlighting the value and importance of diversifying the campus.
Earlier Kennard had served as Howard University’s assistant to the vice president for legal affairs and University of Pittsburgh’s assistant university counsel. After earning her Juris Doctorate from Temple and Master of Laws in international and comparative laws from George Washington University National Law Center, Kennard started her career as counsel at the National Association of College and University Attorneys. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Boston University.
In recognition of her years of leadership in law and higher education, Kennard will be awarded the Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa.
Franklin Wallace Simon ’50, President, The Simon Companies: A highly decorated World War II veteran and real estate development entrepreneur, Franklin W. Simon of Milton, Mass., is well known for his vision and leadership in commercial and multifamily housing. He is the founder and president of The Simon Companies, an award-winning firm that has been instrumental in providing housing for the elderly, low-to-moderate income individuals and families during the past 50 years.
Simon established his companies in 1966 after earning his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering with highest honors from the University of Rhode Island and his MBA from the Harvard Business School. Over the past decade, he has been responsible for developing more than 7,000 residential units and commercial properties; and today the company has some 70 employees.
Many years earlier, at 17-years-old, Simon had enlisted in the U.S. Army following the attack on Pearl Harbor. His service included the liberation of Mathausen concentration camp in Austria, and ending the war meeting Russian Troops in Piilsen, then Czechoslovakia. Simon received numerous medals for his service, including the French Croix de Guerre with Palm. In 2007 he became one of the few Americans to receive The Legion of Honor Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the French government.
In recognition of his accomplishments, leadership, and his bravery in serving our nation, Simon will be awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.