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PROVIDENCE, R.I.– Rhode Island College conferred 1,374 undergraduate degrees on the Class of 2014 at its 160th baccalaureate commencement on May 17.
Among the more than 8,000 people estimated to have attended the ceremonies were U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Congressman James R. Langevin and U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline.
Also in attendance were R.I. Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, North Providence Mayor Charles A. Lombardi and R.I. Board of Education Chair Eva-Marie Mancuso.
Opening her commencement address with a traditional African song, Rhode Island storyteller Valerie Tutson encouraged new graduates to follow their dreams and to live a life of their own crafting.
Tutson, director of FUNDA FEST: A Celebration of Black Storytelling and a founding member of Rhode Island Black Storytellers, relayed a story originating with American folklorist Zora Neale Hurston and advising the audience to “jump at the sun” to overcome obstacles.
RIC President Nancy Carriuolo conferred an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree on Tutson. The president also conferred an Honorary Doctor of Pedagogy degree on Irene Kenny, RIC Class of 1935, and an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree on John Hazen White Jr., CEO and president of Taco, Inc.
One-hundred-year-old Narragansett resident Kenny attended RIC when its name was Rhode Island College of Education and when no tuition fees were charged. Kenny helped found the R.I.C.E. student rifle club in the early 1930s. Kenny, a graduate of Hope High School, taught elementary school for 40 years in Rhode Island. Her daughter and several grandchildren also became teachers.
President Nancy Carriuolo praised White Jr. for his contributions to Rhode Island as an industry leader and an ardent supporter of workforce development. In 2012, White expanded his company’s employee and client education program by building a state-of-the-art Innovation and Development Center.
In his remarks, Senior Class President Kevin Martin, a Cranston native, extolled the benefits of hiring hard-working RIC graduates, saying, “We aren’t afraid to enter the real world, because we are already in it.” Martin plans to study law at Marquette University in the fall.
During commencement, RIC honored the 50th anniversary of the Class of 1964. As is tradition, the Golden Anniversary Class made a gift to Rhode Island College. Their $102,492 gift includes a $75,000 gift to the Alex and Ani Hall that will be matched by $75,000 from the Carter Foundation.
Before the conclusion of the day’s ceremonies, Class of 2014 members Tyler Indyck and Sarah Pothier serenaded the audience with a rendition of The Beatles’ “In My Life.” Pothier and Indyck were the winners of the Richard Maltby Jr. Award for Musical Theater Excellence from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) Region I competition – Pothier in 2013 and Indyck in 2014.
RIC graduated 574 students with honors: 74 summa cum laude, 168 magna cum laude and 332 cum laude.
A webcast of the 2014 commencement ceremonies can be viewed online at www.ric.edu.
Established in Providence in 1854, Rhode Island College serves approximately 9,000 graduate and undergraduate students through its five schools: the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development, the School of Social Work, the School of Management and the School of Nursing. For more information, visit www.ric.edu.