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Distributed May 1, 2006
Contact Molly de Ramel

Commencement/Reunion Overview
Brown University to Hold 238th Commencement on Sunday, May 28

Chief Marshal Roger L. Hale will lead more than 6,000 people down College Hill on Sunday, May 28, 2006, in one of the nation’s largest and most colorful academic pageants. The procession and academic exercises will cap a three-day Commencement/Reunion Weekend on the Brown campus. Brown University’s 238th Commencement will follow a new plan, for the first time in the history of the University. Due in part to the large size of the Class of 2006, graduates will assemble in front of the First Baptist Church in America, rather than inside.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — On Sunday morning, May 28, 2006, Commencement Chief Marshal Roger L. Hale, a 1956 graduate and father of three Brown alumni, will lead thousands of graduates, alumni, faculty and University guests in a march down College Hill. The mile-long procession, accompanied by an entourage of bagpipers, highland drummers, television cameras and the Brown Band, will mark the beginning of Brown University’s 238th Commencement exercises and the conclusion of Brown’s three-day Commencement/Reunion Weekend.

[For additional information, visit the Commencement and Reunion Web sites.]

President Ruth J. Simmons, her party, members of the Brown Corporation, invited guests, faculty, alumni, and the graduating classes of the College, the Graduate School and the Medical School will march through the ceremonial Van Wickle Gates, which opened inward to admit the Class of 2006 four years ago, and now open outward for the graduates’ symbolic march into the world beyond Brown.

After thousands march through the gates, Brown’s Sunday-morning Commencement exercises include three separate convocations prior to the all-University exercises back on The College Green.

  • Graduate students will gather at 11:10 a.m. on Lincoln Field, where Sheila Bonde, Ph.D.,will preside over her first Commencement as dean of the Graduate School.
  • Medical students will gather at 11:15 a.m. in the First Unitarian Church for their degree ceremonies and administration of the Physician’s Oath by Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences Eli Y. Adashi, M.D., who will be presiding over his second Commencement as dean.
  • Undergraduates will congregate by 12:10 p.m. on the grounds of the First Baptist Church in America. Since 1776 some segment of all but two Commencements has been celebrated inside this venue. However, the large size of the Class of 2006 and the tighter regulations of gatherings in Rhode Island, necessitated the relocation.

A short ceremony for graduating seniors will begin at the Church. A student will perform the national anthem, and the University chaplain will deliver the invocation. Representatives of the senior class will then enter the First Baptist Church and bring out the Manning Chair, which is the ceremonial chair used by the president for Commencement. The president will conduct the conferral of the baccalaureate degrees in Latin from the Manning Chair.

These ceremonial events, which will be approximately 10 minutes in length, will be simulcast with closed captioning to The College Green via two large video screens. The University provides 12,000 folding chairs for graduates and their guests.

Following the conferral of the degrees at the church, the president and the senior class will recess from the church grounds and return to The College Green. Then, at 12:50 p.m. the Senior Orations will begin.

The University Ceremony

By approximately 1:15 p.m., more than 10,000 people will have found their way to The College Green for the University’s Commencement exercises and the ritual presentation of symbolic degrees by the president. In all, President Simmons will deliver formal Latin salutations to nearly 1,600 baccalaureate candidates, 600 candidates for advanced degrees and eight candidates for honorary degrees. Flags from more than 70 nations, from Cape Verde to Qatar, representing the homelands of the Class of 2006, will be flown during the University ceremony.

The University Ceremony on The College Green involves students from all three schools. During the University ceremony the following events take place:

  • the presentation by the president of symbolic degrees to one graduating student in each degree category (baccalaureate, master’s, medical doctor, and doctor of philosophy);
  • the conferring of masters of arts degrees ad eundum to those full-time faculty who have been appointed or promoted to the ranks of professor, associate professor or senior lecturer who hold no other Brown degree and who have been at the University or at an affiliated hospital for at least one academic year;
  • the conferring and awarding of honorary degrees and the reading of the honorary degree citations;
  • the acknowledgement of faculty who have earned teaching awards and/or been appointed to endowed and named professorship as well as parents and family members;
  • the presentation of other awards or honors, including the Rosenberger Medal, the highest honor the faculty can bestow.


Individuals with disabilities who require accommodations for Commencement Weekend events should contact the University. Call the Office of University Events at (401) 863-2108 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.

Rain Plan

The Commencement procession will be cancelled only in the event of heavy rain. If heavy rain begins, a yellow pennant will be flown from the flagpole on The College Green, indicating that the rain plan is in effect. In this event, the University ceremony is not held, and the presentation of symbolic baccalaureate degrees and the conferral of honorary degrees will take place in the Pizzitola Sports Center in a version of the College ceremony (which will be simulcast to Salomon Center and Sayles Hall and audiocast to Meehan Auditorium and Manning Chapel for parents and guests). The Graduate and Medical School Ceremonies will be held in their respective locations, which are tented and indoors, respectively. The departmental diploma ceremonies will be held in the assigned rain-plan locations immediately following the College ceremony.


More than 3,500 Brown alumni/ae, friends and family will return to the campus for reunion celebrations surrounding Commencement. Further information on reunion activities is available from the Commencement/Reunion Voice Mail Information Line: (401) 863-7000.

A Synopsis of The Commencement/Reunion Weekend Schedule

Friday, May 26

  • Campus Dance, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on The College Green. At midnight, an informal singing of the Alma Mater will take place on Sayles Hall steps.

Saturday, May 27

  • All-Class Memorial Service, 8:30 a.m. in Sayles Hall, remembers classmates who have died since their classes’ last reunion.
  • Commencement Forums begin at 9 a.m. Fifteen hour-long forums will feature a vast range of topics: from legal defense at Guantanamo Bay, to ancient shipwrecks in Greece.
  • President Ruth J. Simmons will deliver the All-Reunion Presidential Address at 11:45 a.m. on Lincoln Field.
  • The 2006 Baccalaureate Service begins at 3 p.m. in the First Baptist Church in America. The service is preceded by a colorful procession at 2:30 p.m. University of Texas–Brownsville President Juliet V. Garcia will deliver the address, which will be simulcast to The College Green, Sayles and Salomon.
  • The Brown University-sponsored Water Fire begins at sundown along the Providence River. An alumni hospitality tent will host eventgoers at Market Square.

Sunday, May 28

  • Commencement Procession formation begins at 9:30 a.m.
  • Commencement Procession, with its traditional walk through the Van Wickle Gates, steps off at Faunce Arch on The College Green begins at 9:45 a.m.
  • The Graduate School Convocation Ceremony begins at 11:10 a.m. on Lincoln Field, Dean of the Graduate School Sheila Bonde presiding.
  • The Medical School Convocation Ceremony begins at 11:15 a.m. in the First Unitarian Church, Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences Eli Y. Adashi, M.D., presiding.
  • The College Ceremony on First Baptist Church in America grounds begins at 12:10 p.m., President Ruth J. Simmons presiding.
  • Senior Orations are delivered on The College Green, beginning at 12:50 p.m.
  • University Ceremony, including awarding of symbolic and honorary degrees, begins on The College Green at 1:15 p.m., President Ruth J. Simmons presiding.
  • Undergraduates receive their diplomas at departmental ceremonies at various locations, immediately following the conclusion of the University Ceremony.
  • 3:30 p.m. Departmental ceremonies conclude.

Editors: Additional Commencement news will be released during the month of May. Contact Media Relations at (401) 863-2476 or consult the Media Relations Web site for updates [].

University-issued press credentials are recommended for any events that are open to press.

Reporters and photographers may register for credentials with Deborah Goldstein by calling (401) 863-2478 or sending an e-mail to [email protected]. Credentials require the reporter’s name, organization represented, and contact information for both telephone and e-mail. Credentials may be picked up at Media Relations beginning Thursday, May 25.

The Commencement Information Hotline is (401) 863-7000. Please make use of it to order tickets for some events and to secure more specific information about many of the activities planned for Commencement weekend.


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