URI confers an honorary degree upon Charles Walton

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Retired educator/activist divides time between R.I., N.C.

KINGSTON, R.I.—May 21, 2009– Charles D. Walton of Cranston and Durham, North Carolina was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Rhode Island during commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 17.

Walton retired as associate dean for the Office of College Opportunity and Support Programs at the Community College of Rhode Island last year where he helped more than 5,100 low-income, first –generation, minority and disabled students succeed in post-secondary educational experiences each year.

As the first African-American state senator in Rhode Island history, he faithfully represented his district in the City of Providence for nearly 20 years. He sponsored many pieces of legislation that continue to benefit thousands of Rhode Islanders. For example, he introduced the Community Reinvestment Act, which prohibited banking institutions from redlining low-income and minority populated areas. The law became a strong vehicle for building credit and support for minority entrepreneurs and homeowners in low-income neighborhoods. He enacted a Senate resolution establishing the Rhode Island Minority Health Program under the Department of Health. The act created a tax on smokeless tobacco products that generates more than $250,000 annually, supporting training for low-income and minority populations faced with unique health problems.

Walton now divides his time between Rhode Island and North Carolina.

Pictured above

Charles Walton seconds after receiving an honorary Doctor of Laws degree during the University of Rhode Island’s Commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 17. Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Donald DeHayes (behind Walton) and John McCray, URI vice provost of urban programs, assisted in the hooding and award ceremony. URI photo by Joe Giblin.