RlC announces 2010 honorary degree recipients

The college will award four honorary degrees during the May 20 graduate and May 22 undergraduate commencement exercises.

Rhode Island College has selected four prominent individuals from public service, the arts, and the business sector to receive honorary degrees at this year’s two commencement ceremonies in May.

Advanced degree commencement will be held on Thursday, May 20, at 5:30 p.m. in The Murray Center.

M. Teresa Paiva Weed
M. Teresa Paiva Weed, president of the Rhode Island Senate, will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and deliver the graduate commencement address.

An attorney, Paiva Weed is the first woman to be elected as presiding officer of one of the chambers of the Rhode Island General Assembly, and one of only six women in the U.S. currently serving as president of a state senate.

She is also one of the highest elected women officeholders in the state and holds the highest position ever achieved by a woman in the Rhode Island General Assembly.

Frank Battisti
In the same ceremony, conductor, composer and music educator Frank L. Battisti will receive an honorary Doctor of Music degree.

Battisti was founder and conductor of the New England Conservatory of Music Wind Ensemble for 30 years, and responsible for commissioning and premiering over 50 works for wind ensemble by noted American and foreign composers.

Battisti, a member of the American Bandmasters Association and founder of the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble, and New England College Band Association, stands as one of the most widely respected wind band conductors in the world.

Undergraduate commencement will take place on Saturday, May 22, at 9:30 a.m. on the college’s esplanade.

Gordon Fox
Gordon D. Fox, speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives and a 1985 graduate of RIC, will be the commencement speaker and receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Fox, an attorney, is a nine-term state representative from Providence’s District 9 and served as chair of the House Finance Committee for two years and as house majority leader for four terms prior to his selection as house speaker. Among his legislative achievements are measures to increase the minimum wage, ban smoking in most public places in Rhode Island, and help protect victims of domestic violence.

Fox also holds the highest position ever achieved by a minority in the Rhode Island General Assembly. RIC’s 2010 commencement ceremony marks the 25th anniversary of his graduation from the college.

John Palumbo
A communications specialist with a stellar business career, John J. Palumbo, owner/president/publisher of Rhode Island Monthly Communications, will receive an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree at the undergraduate commencement.

Palumbo has represented the state as an officer in several national professional associations, including vice president of the International Newspaper Marketing Association, president of the Newspaper Association of America’s Marketing Development Federation, and past president of the city and regional Magazine Association, which represents almost 100 titles across North America, while continuing his work as an officer in many statewide professional associations.

Despite his considerable career responsibilities and professional activities, Palumbo works tirelessly on behalf of numerous philanthropic organizations, including the Rhode Island Zoological Society, WaterFire, and has assumed board positions in First Night Providence, Leadership Rhode Island, Rhode Island Infantile Paralysis Association and Trinity Repertory Company. In recognition of his service, Roger Williams Park Zoo will soon name its new veterinary hospital after him.

Rhode Island College, the oldest public institution of higher learning in the state, confers about 1,400 graduate and undergraduate degrees annually.

Honorary degree recipients are chosen on the basis of their exceptional leadership qualities, 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.