2003 Commencement/Reunion Weekend
Brown University to hold 235th Commencement Monday, May 26
More than 6,000 peole will march down College Hill on Monday, May 26, 2003, in one of the nation’s largest and most colorful academic pageants. The procession and academic exercises cap a four-day Commencement/Reunion Weekend on the Brown campus.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — More than 6,000 graduates, alumni,
faculty, parent educators and University guests will march down College Hill
Monday morning, May 26, 2003. Their mile-long procession, accompanied by an
entourage of bagpipers, highland drummers, television cameras and marching
bands, will mark the beginning of Brown University’s 235th Commencement
exercises, capping a four-day Commencement-Reunion Weekend.
Editors: A calendar of the weekend’s main events is included
at the end of this release. Additional Commencement news releases (honorary
degree recipients, Commencement forums, concerts and events, etc.) will be distributed soon. Contact the News Service (401-863-2476) or consult the News Service Web site – www.brown.edu/news – for updates.
The ceremonial Van Wickle Gates, which opened inward to admit the Class of
2003 four years ago, will swing outward for the graduates’ symbolic march
into the world beyond Brown.
The procession steps off at
8:30 a.m., led by candidates for medical degrees, then graduate degrees, then
Brown’s Commencement exercises include three separate convocations
prior to the all-University exercises on The College Green:
- Medical students will gather at 8:45 a.m. in the First Unitarian Church for
their degree ceremonies and administration of the Physician’s Oath by
Interim Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences Richard W. Besdine, M.D.
- Graduate students will assemble for open-air ceremonies at 9 a.m. on Lincoln
Field (behind Sayles Hall), where Dean of the Graduate School Karen A. Newman
will preside. (In case of rain, the Graduate School’s convocation will be
held in the Pizzitola Memorial Sports Center.)
- Undergraduates will march to the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church
in America, site of all Brown Commencements since 1775, for the symbolic
awarding of the baccalaureate degree, beginning at 10:30 a.m. President Ruth J.
Simmons will preside.
By approximately 11:30 a.m., more than 10,000 people will have found their
way to The College Green for the University’s Commencement exercises and
the ritual conferral of degrees by the president and chancellor. In all,
President Simmons will deliver formal Latin salutations to approximately 1,500
baccalaureate candidates, 500 candidates for advanced degrees and seven
candidates for honorary degrees. Flags from 62 nations, representing the
homelands of the Class of 2003, will be flown during the University
Because the baccalaureate graduating class fills the Meeting House of the
First Baptist Church, parents and friends of the graduates traditionally gather
on The College Green to listen to a broadcast of the undergraduate ceremony and
view the proceedings on a large outdoor video screen, which will include
captioning. The University provides 12,000 folding chairs for graduates and
their guests, but Commencement is usually a standing-room-only event. An audio
feed will be available for parents and guests in Meehan Auditorium, Hope Street
at Lloyd Avenue, in case of rain on Monday.
By long tradition, Brown does not invite a single main speaker to deliver a
Commencement address, but asks a number of individuals, including students, to
contribute remarks at the various Commencement convocations. This year’s
speakers will include:
- Former President of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who will begin a
five-year term as professor-at-large at Brown on July 1, will deliver a Stephen
A. Ogden Jr. ’60 Memorial Lecture on International Affairs, Saturday, May
24, at 3:45 p.m. in Starr Plaza at the Watson Institute for International
- Chinese dissident Xu Wenli, now a visiting senior fellow at Brown’s
Watson Institute, will deliver the Baccalaureate address, “My Journey to Brown: A Personal Odyssey.” Xu will speak in the Meeting House of
the First Baptist Church in America at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 25. His daughter,
Xu Jin, will provide translation;
- Brown alumnus Seth Berkley, M.D., founder of the International AIDS Vaccine
Initiative (IAVI), will deliver the address at the Brown Medical School
Commencement Convocation, Monday, May 26, at 8:45 a.m., in the First Unitarian
- James Garvin, a 1984 Ph.D. recipient at Brown who is now a Mars Exploration
Program scientist at NASA, will address candidates for advanced degrees at the
Graduate School Convocation, 9 a.m. on Lincoln Field (rain site: Pizzitola
Memorial Sports Center).
- Martha Lackritz, of San Antonio, Texas, and Onyekachukwu Iloabachie, of
Bayside, N.Y., will deliver senior orations Monday, May 26, at 10:30 a.m. in the
Meeting House of the First Baptist Church in America.
Receiving a bachelor’s degree at Brown is a three-step process. First,
during ceremonies at the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church in America,
President Simmons will present candidates for the bachelor’s degree to
members of the Corporation, who will authorize her to confer the degrees.
Second, during ceremonies on The College Green, Simmons will confer all
bachelor’s degrees symbolically by presenting a diploma to one recipient
of each degree (A.B., Sc.B., A.B./Sc.B.). Third, graduates will receive their
individual diplomas during departmental ceremonies held at various locations on
and off campus at the conclusion of the University ceremony, approximately 12:30
p.m. A listing of sites for these ceremonies is included in the Commencement
program, distributed on campus Commencement morning.
Individuals with disabilities who require accommodations for Commencement
Weekend events or who are eligible for reserved handicap parking should contact
the Office of University Events as soon as possible, but at least one week prior
to Commencement. Call the Office of University events at (401) 863-2474 weekdays
from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Closed captioning will be available on The College
Green for the weekend’s major ceremonies.
If Monday is damp or drizzly, outdoor activities will proceed as scheduled.
If severe storm conditions begin, yellow pennants will be flown around campus,
indicating that the rain plan is in effect. In that event, Commencement
ceremonies scheduled for The College Green will take place at the Meeting House
of the First Baptist Church in America, and the departmental ceremonies will
move to rain plan sites listed in the Commencement program. Guests of
undergraduates may listen to an audio feed of the ceremonies in Meehan
Auditorium, Hope Street at Lloyd Avenue.
More than 3,500 Brown alumni/ae, friends and family will return to the campus
for several days of reunion celebrations which surround Commencement. Further
information on reunion activities is available from the Commencement/Reunion
Voice Mail Information Line: (401) 863-7000.
The Commencement/Reunion Weekend schedule
Friday, May 23
- Campus Dance, from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. on The College Green, will feature
music by the Duke Belaire Orchestra. Student bands will perform on Lincoln
Field, with jazz near Carrie Tower.
- Senior Sing, a traditional feature at the Campus Dance, takes place at
midnight on the steps of Sayles Hall.
Saturday, May 24
- Commencement Forums begin at 9 a.m. with sessions also scheduled for 10:15
a.m., 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Eighteen hour-long forums will feature
internationally respected authorities on issues from Mars exploration to foreign
affairs, the Lincoln presidency, children’s literature, Internet medicine,
slavery, and Brown alumnus Chuck Colson ’53 on prison ministry.
- Former president of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who will begin a
five-year appointment July 1 as professor-at-large at Brown, will present a
Stephen A. Ogden Jr. ’60 Memorial Lecture on International Affairs. The
lecture, “Toward a New Order: The Influence of Globalization on Democratic Theory,” will begin at 3:45 p.m. in Starr Plaza at the
Watson Institute for International Studies.
- Alumni Field Day runs from noon to 4 p.m. at Aldrich-Dexter Field, featuring
music, games and amusements. (Rain site: Olney-Margolies Athletic Center.)
- The 22nd Annual Dr. Carl
and Dorothy O. Jagolinzer Memorial Recital, featuring outstanding graduating
seniors, begins at 4 p.m. in Grant Recital Hall.
- The 2003 Commencement Dance Concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in Stuart
- The 39th Annual Pops Concert, sponsored by the Brown Club of
Rhode Island and the Pembroke Club of Providence, begins at 8:30 p.m. on The
College Green, featuring Harry Connick Jr. and His Big Band. (Rain site:
Providence Performing Arts Center)
Sunday, May 25
- The All-Reunion Presidential Address will begin at 10 a.m. on Lincoln Field.
Brown President Ruth J. Simmons will speak about the year at Brown and plans for
the University’s future growth and academic enrichment.
- University Chaplain Janet Cooper Nelson will officiate at the All-Class
Memorial Service to celebrate the lives of deceased classmates, 11:15 a.m. in
- The 2003 Baccalaureate Service begins at 1:30 p.m. in the Meeting House of
the First Baptist Church in America. The service is preceded by an academic
procession at 12:45 p.m. Xu Wenli, the Chinese dissident and advocate of
democratic civil liberties, will deliver the Baccalaureate address, “My Journey to Brown: A Personal Odyssey,” with
translation provided by his daughter Xu Jin. Because seating in the Meeting
House is sufficient only for the graduating class, family and friends may watch
a large-screen video simulcast of the service on The College Green.
- From dusk until midnight, the Brown Alumni Association will sponsor
“WaterFire,” the dramatic multimedia fire installation by Barnaby
Evans ’75 in downtown Providence.
Monday, May 26
- The Commencement Procession, with its traditional walk through the Van
Wickle Gates, begins at 8:30 a.m. Candidates for medical degrees march first,
then candidates for graduate degrees, then the undergraduate Class of 2003.
- The Medical School Convocation begins at 8:45 a.m. in the First Unitarian
Church, Interim Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences Richard W. Besdine,
- The Graduate School Convocation begins at 9 a.m. on Lincoln Field (rain
site: Pizzitola Sports Center), Dean of the Graduate School Karen A. Newman
- The Undergraduate Convocation begins at 10:30 a.m. in the Meeting House of
the First Baptist Church in America, President Ruth J. Simmons presiding.
- The University ceremony begins at approximately 11:30 a.m. on The College
Green, President Simmons presiding.
- Undergraduates receive their diplomas at departmental ceremonies at various
locations, beginning at approximately 12:30 p.m.