KINGSTON, R. I. — April 20, 2017 — As the University of Rhode Island commemorates the 125th Anniversary of its founding during a year-long celebration, the focus now turns to acknowledge the accomplishments of the 2017 graduating class. Commencement weekend, May 20-21, 2017, will showcase the extraordinary work of students and honor several renowned alumni and guests.
Peabody and Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist Vladimir Duthiers, a 1991 URI political science graduate, will address about 15,000 students and families gathered with faculty and staff for the undergraduate commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 12:30 p.m. on the URI Quadrangle.
On Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 9 a.m. at the Thomas M. Ryan Center, Pulitzer Prize winning Boston Globe Columnist and Associate Editor Thomas Farragher, a 1977 graduate of URI’s Harrington School of Communication and Media, will address the students who will receive their graduate degrees that morning. Duthiers and Farragher will receive the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa at the main ceremony on Sunday.
“As we mark The University of Rhode Island’s 125th Anniversary and celebrate the success of our newest graduates, we are privileged to present the University’s highest honor, the Honorary Doctorate degree, to stellar accomplished graduates, such as Vladimir Duthiers and Thomas Farragher,” said URI President David M. Dooley. “We are proud to have this unique opportunity to recognize these individuals for their achievements and lasting contributions to the University of Rhode Island, the State of Rhode Island, the nation, and the world.”
In addition to Duthiers and Farragher, the University will present honorary doctoral degrees to: Executive Director of the State of Rhode Island’s Tomaquag Indian Museum Lorén Spears ’89; a renowned economist, professor, composer and author Alfred J. Tella ’55; and a visionary leader in higher education, University of Rhode Island President Emeritus Robert L. Carothers.
The Honorary Doctorate Degree is the highest honor bestowed by the University and will be presented to the following individuals during the University’s main commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 21, 2017.
Honorary Degree Recipients
Known and respected worldwide for his coverage of global breaking news and features, Duthiers is a correspondent for CBS News and an anchor for their 24/7 digital streaming network, CBSN. As a leading broadcast journalist, he has been called upon to witness, synthesize, and report some of the most disturbing news. He says he reports the news “to give voice to the voiceless.”
From the Ferguson, Missouri, shootings to the police-shooter manhunt in Pennsylvania, Duthiers’ gripping reports have been featured on many CBS programs. Before joining CBS in 2014, Duthiers was a CNN international correspondent based in Lagos, Nigeria. He received a Peabody Award for his report about the hundreds of girls who were kidnapped from their Nigerian school by the terrorist group Boko Haram. He also investigated the plight of trafficked children in Haiti and interviewed the nation’s president for answers.
Duthiers began his broadcast career in 2009 on the CNN news program Amanpour before becoming associate producer for Anderson Cooper 360. The son of Haitian immigrants, he is fluent in English, French, and Creole, and was among the first journalists to provide Emmy Award-winning coverage of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
Duthiers received his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Rhode Island in 1991. At URI, he was known to have a special gift for reporting the news in the Good Five Cent Cigar, and on WRIU.
Duthiers will be awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
Robert L. Carothers
President Emeritus Carothers served as the University’s 10th president from 1991–2009. During his tenure, enduring improvements were made in the University’s structure, infrastructure, culture, diversity, curriculum, and fundraising. The University grew in both size and prestige and significantly enhanced its national reputation and profile.
To mark the University’s centennial in 1992, Carothers hosted a series of memorable events and notably led the institution’s first capital campaign. The campaign exceeded its $50 million target and strongly positioned the University for its future campaigns.
President Carothers was vocal, visible, and visionary in his efforts to curb alcohol use on campus, in the state, and in the nation. He is renowned for his leadership on this issue that affects the health and safety of millions in higher education. Carothers’ progressive views on education also assisted students in becoming active learners, as opposed to passive listeners.
Before joining the University, Carothers was chancellor of the Minnesota State University System, president of Southwest State University, and vice president, dean, and professor at Edinboro University.
Carothers received his bachelor’s degree from Edinboro University, his doctorate from Kent State University, and his Juris Doctor from the McDowell School of Law, University of Akron. He has the unique distinction of being a poet, lawyer, scholar, and administrator.
Carothers will be awarded the Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.
Farragher is a columnist and associate editor at The Boston Globe. A quintessential journalist, Farragher has spent nearly 40 years using his instinct, talent, and dogged determination to find, research, and share genuine stories.
Farragher was on the Globe’s Spotlight Team, whose courageous research and sustained determination revealed a decades-long cover-up of the sexual abuse of children by priests within the Archdiocese of Boston. Its exhaustive series exposed and catalogued the egregious mistakes, sins, and crimes that were at the core of what became a national crisis. The team received a Pulitzer Prize for public service in 2003.
In 2002, Farragher co-authored the book Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church, that pulled together more than a decade of the team’s reporting on the scandal. The chilling, truthful story was captured in the 2015 Academy Award-winning film, Spotlight.
The Spotlight team uncovered many more breaches in public faith, including rampant patronage in the Massachusetts Probation Department, monopolistic practices by hospitals, and dangerous overcrowding of college students in Boston apartments, a series that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2015.
Before joining the Globe in 1997, Farragher was a reporter and editor of several publications including The Day of New London, Conn., and the San Jose Mercury News. A 1977 journalism graduate, Farragher cut his teeth as a dedicated reporter and editor for URI’s student newspaper, The Good 5 Cent Cigar.
Farragher will be awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
Executive director of the state of Rhode Island’s Tomaquag Museum, Spears has accomplished a great deal throughout her career. She has worked to preserve the history, experience, and culture of the local Native American people and leads this state’s only Native American museum.
Earlier this year, the museum received the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community. Each year, thousands of visitors learn about Native American cultural history at the museum. Also this year, Spears received the Tom Roberts Prize for Creative Achievement in the Humanities from the Rhode Island Council on the Humanities. She was honored for her “compelling work as an advocate of indigenous people’s history and cultural heritage in preservation, the arts, and education.” Spears also received an Extraordinary Woman Award from Rhode Island’s Woman Development Institute.
Spears received her undergraduate degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1989 and her master’s degree from the University of New England with a focus on elementary education. She founded the Nuweetooun School affiliated with the Tomaquag Museum and was a teacher in the Newport public schools for 12 years. Spears is well-known as an activist, essayist, artist, and two-term tribal councilwoman of the Narragansett Tribe.
Spears will be awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
Alfred J. Tella
A native Rhode Islander, Tella is known for an array of talents. An economics graduate of the University of Rhode Island in 1955 and New York University’s Stern School of Business in 1957, Tella’s expertise goes far beyond the development and utilization of the highest-level economic models and well into academia and the arts.
Tella began his career as an economist for the Conference Board in New York City, then moved to the Federal Reserve Board. Specializing in labor markets and forecasting, Tella developed several unique econometric models that had substantial impact on economic analysis and policy development in the United States. He was also part of the team that constructed the agency’s first large-scale structural model of the U.S. economy, which became a major instrument for the nation’s monetary policy.
In 1969, Tella became research professor of economics at Georgetown University. He continued research on welfare reform and was tapped to serve as adviser to the Department of Commerce and the Census Bureau. In 1978 he received the National Service Award of the Institute for Socioeconomic Studies for his research on labor and welfare economics. His research was widely published and his economics opinions appeared in top publications nationwide.
Throughout his expansive economics career, Tella also kept his fingers on the ivory keys and computer keyboard. He wrote many piano and voice compositions and is the author of several popular fantasy novels, Sundered Soul, The Willing Spirit (with Piers Anthony), and Zuralia Dreaming.
Tella will be awarded the Doctor of Science, honoris causa. At the Commencement ceremony, Tella’s sister, Janet Toomey, will stand in on Tella’s behalf to receive his Honorary degree.