Commencement 2015: URIs 129th Commencement: Just the Facts

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KINGSTON, R.I. — May 15, 2015 — As many as 15,000 people are expected to gather in Kingston, R.I. on Saturday and Sunday, May 16-17, to celebrate the achievements of 3,204 undergraduate and 668 graduate students who will receive their degrees at the University of Rhode Island. URI’s undergraduate Commencement is one of the largest single-day events held annually in Rhode Island.


Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions by media covering and others attending URI’s commencement weekend:

First, the basics:

Graduate Commencement Ceremony

Saturday, May 16, 2015, 1 p.m.

Ryan Center, Kingston Campus

Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Procession beings at 12:15 p.m., Ceremony starts at 12:30 p.m.

Quadrangle (Rain site: Ryan Center)

Kingston Campus

Where are the graduates from?

About 61 percent (1,955) of the undergraduate and 66 percent (438) of the graduate degrees will be awarded to students who are from Rhode Island. After Rhode Island, the top states our undergraduate students hail from are Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. There are 26 international undergraduate and 78 graduate students.

Any more details about the graduates?

The oldest graduate student is 66 and the youngest is 22. The oldest undergraduate student is 67, the youngest is 19, and if you think you’re seeing double, that’s because there are 12 sets of twins in the Class of 2015.


We are also very honored to include 103 U. S. Veterans among those who will receive undergraduate degrees and 41 veterans who will receive graduate degrees.


About 56 percent (1,779) of the students to receive undergraduate degrees are women and 44 percent (1,422) are men. Graduate degrees were awarded to 59 percent (390) women and 40 percent (268) men. About 13 students don’t disclose this information.

What about speakers and honorary degrees?

To honor their unique contributions to the University, the people of the State of Rhode Island, and the nation, the University will confer five honorary doctorates at Commencement. The Honorary Degree is the highest honor bestowed by the University and is reserved to recognize true distinction. The University has awarded 451 honorary degrees since 1941. The following individuals will be so honored:


• Rudolph E. Tanzi, who holds the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Endowed Chair in Neurology at Harvard Medical School, has conducted groundbreaking research focused on genetic links to neurological diseases. In 1980 he helped find the gene for Huntington’s disease—the first disease ever found by genetic linkage analysis. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Science and address the Class of 2015.


• Shirley Cherry has been a dedicated teacher/librarian and tour director for the museum that was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s previous home at the Dexter Parsonage in Montgomery, Ala. She will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters


• Rolf-Dieter Schnelle, former German Consul General in Boston, international diplomat and longtime board member of the URI International Engineering Program, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters


• Angus C. F. Taylor, a distinguished global leader and passionate advocate for dual language immersion programs, serves as president and chief executive officer of Hexagon Metrology, Inc. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Business and will speak at the Graduate Commencement on May 16.


• Leo F. DiMaio Jr., director emeritus of URI’s Talent Development Program, he paved a path to success for thousands of disadvantaged Rhode Island students at URI. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters posthumously. DiMaio’s granddaughter, Angelica M. DiMaio, a member of this URI’s graduating class, will accept her grandfather’s degree on behalf of the DiMaio family.

Student Speaker: Matthew Quainoo, Africana studies and political science major from North Kingstown. Quainoo will address the largest crowd of his life when he steps onto the platform at Commencement. The 19-year-old senior speaker is younger than most of his classmates, and though his college experience lasted just two years, it is as rich and diverse as that of many who spent twice as long on campus. Quainoo began working toward his college degree before he arrived on campus, earning college credits by taking advanced placement courses in high school and summer classes before his official enrollment began in the fall of 2013. Now he’s ready to pursue his master’s degree in theological studies, with an interdisciplinary concentration in religion and society at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J.

Can I watch commencement virtually?

If you can’t see or hear the undergraduate ceremony, you can watch it online at Those unable to attend the lecture can watch it live online at URI Live! The webcast will begin at 12:15 p.m. and ends at the conclusion of the formal ceremony on the quadrangle.

What happens if it rains Sunday?

In the event of rain, the main commencement ceremony will be held at the Ryan Center. If the rain plan is implemented, the decision will be made in the early morning and information will be posted on the URI homepage, uri.edu, and on our automated phone lines (401.874.7669, and 401.874.1000).

Are there any student profiles and a list of graduates?

Yes on both. Our Senior Profiles are posted online and distributed to student’s hometown news. When all degrees are officially confirmed, the complete list of graduates will be posted on the University website and using our media distribution plan to reach appropriate news outlets nationwide.