RIC Announces Commencement Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients

2014 Commencement speakers Tim Hebert and Valerie Tutson

2014 Commencement speakers Tim Hebert and Valerie Tutson

At this year’s commencement ceremonies, audience members should expect to hear inspiring and engaging advice from the featured speakers – one courtesy of a professional storyteller and another from a R.I. business success story.

Rhode Island storyteller Valerie Tutson will serve as the RIC commencement speaker for the 2014 undergraduate degree ceremony, to be held during the morning of Saturday, May 17. Her speech will address “what’s possible when you face your fears and take a leap,” she said.

Tutson, who holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from Brown University, is the founder and director of both Rhode Island Black Storytellers and FUNDA Fest: A Celebration of Black Storytelling. She also serves on the board of directors for the National Association of Black Storytellers.

Oscar “Tim” Hebert, CEO of the Warwick-based IT company Atrion, will serve as the RIC commencement speaker for the 2014 graduate degree ceremony, to be held during the evening of Thursday, May 15. Hebert, who characterizes his professional life as “an incredible journey of reflection” and a “quest for knowledge,” plans to share insights gained during his 27-year career as an entrepreneur and civic leader.

An expert in the field of strategic technological solutions and leading-edge technologies, Hebert is board chairman of the Tech Collective and serves on the advisory committee for the R.I. STEM Center at Rhode Island College.

Both Tutson and Hebert will be awarded honorary degrees from Rhode Island College at the respective ceremonies. Other RIC honorary degree recipients include:

  • Peter Arpin, partner in Arpin International Group and president of Arpin Renewable Energy and Arpin Broadcast Network. Arpin, who represents the fourth generation of his family to operate the Arpin moving-services company, runs the Renewable Now media network and has been actively involved in RIC’s sustainability and green business efforts.
  • Centenarian Irene Kenny, RIC Class of 1935. Kenny, a retired elementary school teacher with a 40-year career in Rhode Island public schools, is an active alumna and recently attended her 78th RIC class reunion.
  • Charles McDonald, M.D., founding chair of the Department of Dermatology at Brown University. An internationally recognized dermatologist/oncologist, McDonald has published more than 200 scientific articles and book chapters on the development of safe and effective treatments for skin cancer and systemic autoimmune diseases.
  • John Hazen White Jr., CEO and president of Taco Inc. White represents the third generation of his family to own and operate the Cranston-based HVAC system manufacturing company. White is known throughout the region for his strong commitment to employee education and workforce development.

Honorary degree recipients are chosen on the basis of their exceptional leadership qualities or contributions to civic life or in recognition of high achievement. The nomination, evaluation and selection process, which takes place over a five-month period, receives input and review from a broad representation of the college community.

Rhode Island College, the first public institution of higher learning in the state, confers approximately 1,300 undergraduate degrees and 300 graduate degrees each year.