PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — In any year, Brown University’s three-day Commencement and Reunion Weekend welcomes tens of thousands of graduates, guests, alumni and other community members to Providence for a mix of solemn ceremony and spirited celebration.
This year’s festivities — from Friday, May 27, through Sunday, May 29 — arrive with a new twist: Not only will Brown celebrate its Class of 2022 graduates, the University will also welcome back to campus members of the Class of 2020, whose graduates missed their in-person Commencement experience due the COVID-19 pandemic and will return for their own dedicated ceremonies.
Brown President Christina H. Paxson will preside over an Undergraduate Class of 2020 Commencement Ceremony on Saturday to celebrate those recent graduates, as well as the University’s 254th Commencement on Sunday, which will honor the Class of 2022. Student speakers will address their classmates in longstanding Brown tradition, and three honorary degree recipients — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Dr. Seth Berkley of the Vaccine Alliance, and recording artist Shaggy — will deliver remarks at prominent weekend events.
Brown Commencements have been major events for University guests and Providence residents since the 18th century. Multiple weekend events are open to the public and many of the most prominent events will be streamed live on the web — an abbreviated summary of the weekend follows, and additional information and updates are available on Brown’s Commencement and Reunion websites.
Graduates and attendees can also download the BrownU mobile app to find information on the go during Commencement Weekend, including events, campus maps, dining and parking options, the location of water stations and restrooms, and more. Users can log in with a Brown ID or as a guest.
News Media Access and Credentials
University-issued media credentials are required for access to the weekend’s events, including the procession route, the Van Wickle Gates and the University Ceremony on Sunday, May 29, when most honorary degrees will be awarded and Speaker Pelosi will deliver a Commencement oration. Media credentials will be reserved exclusively for journalists working on assignment for credentialed professional news organizations. Space is limited and the University may limit the total number of credentials awarded.
Members of the media must request credentials by 12:00 noon EDT on Wednesday, May 25. Please email [email protected] and include the professional news organization’s name along with the journalist’s name, telephone number and email address. For requests that are granted, credentials will be made available for pickup on the Brown campus in advance of the weekend.
Since its founding in 1764, Brown has selected members of the graduating class to speak during its Commencement ceremonies. With the return of the Class of 2020 this year, the weekend includes even more student speakers than usual:
- Mira Nikolova and Abdullah Shihipar, who respectively earned a Ph.D. and master’s from Brown in 2020, will return to campus to address their fellow alumni during a dedicated Graduate Class of 2020 Commencement Ceremony on Saturday.
- Two years later than planned, Brown alumni Sydney Lo and Dhruv Singh will deliver Commencement speeches during the Undergraduate Class of 2020 Commencement Ceremony on Saturday.
- Class of 2022 medical school graduate Adriel Barrios-Anderson, who served as a student orator upon earning his bachelor’s degree from Brown in 2017, will address his peers at the Warren Alpert Medical School Commencement Ceremony on Sunday.
- Class of 2022 graduates Jiuyang Bai and Amelia Spalter will address their peers in separate Ph.D. and master’s ceremonies, respectively, on Sunday.
- Senior orators Kaitlan Bui, Alexandra Ali Martínez and Michelle Liu will address their fellow Class of 2022 graduates during the University Ceremony on Sunday.
Honorary degrees are awarded by the Board of Fellows of the Brown Corporation and conferred by the University president — in English and in Latin. The University will honor nine candidates who have achieved great distinction in their fields:
- Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott — Physician and public health leader
- Dr. Seth Berkley — Physician and public health leader
- Guido Imbens — Nobel Laureate and economist
- Stanley Nelson — Oscar-nominated filmmaker
- Nancy Pelosi — Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
- Shaggy — Reggae icon and U.S. Marine
- Alice and Thomas Tisch — Brown leaders and benefactors
- Zeynep Tüfekçi — Technology scholar and educator
Shaggy will receive his degree during the Undergraduate Class of 2020 Commencement Ceremony on Saturday. All other recipients will receive their degrees during the Class of 2022 University Ceremony on Sunday.
In addition, Brown will honor the late telecommunications pioneer George H. Billings (1950-2021), a Class of 1972 graduate. On the day of his death, Paxson conferred upon him a Doctor of Humane Letters and presented him a doctoral hood. During Commencement, Billings’ brother, John Billings, will accept a diploma in recognition of the honorary degree.
Orations, Addresses and Forums with Honorary Degree Recipients
A number of this year’s honorary degree recipients will address graduates and guests during weekend events or participate in Commencement Forums:
- Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, will deliver a Commencement oration during the University Ceremony on Sunday.
- Shaggy, a reggae icon and former U.S. Marine, will deliver an honorary degree oration during the Undergraduate Class of 2020 Commencement Ceremony on Saturday.
- Dr. Seth Berkley, a physician and public health leader who earned his bachelor’s degree and M.D. from Brown, will deliver the Baccalaureate address to the undergraduate Class of 2022 on Saturday.
- Honorary degree recipients participating in Saturday’s slate of Commencement Forums include physician and public health leader Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, Nobel Laureate and economist Guido Imbens, and technology scholar and educator Zeynep Tüfekçi.
Key Events — Friday, May 27
Class Reunions, Campus Dance
Brown schedules class reunions and Commencement on the same weekend, allowing alumni to welcome graduating seniors into the fold while also celebrating their lifelong connection to the University. This year, classes ending in 2 or 7, plus recent graduates, are returning. Scheduled activities include receptions, celebrations, forums, an Alumni Field Day and prominent participation in the Commencement procession down College Hill. And, of course, there’s Campus Dance (tickets required). One of Brown’s best-loved traditions, the event is expected to bring more than 15,000 people to dance the night away under a sky lit with paper lanterns. The bash concludes with a festive Senior Sing at midnight on the steps of Sayles Hall.
Saturday, May 28
A Commencement and Reunion Weekend tradition for more than four decades, the forums include lectures, discussions and performances by faculty, alumni and guests who are nationally recognized authorities in their fields — with plenty of opportunity for audience questions and comments. This year’s forums address timely issues on topics that range from tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid crisis, to reflecting on Title IX at 50 years, to new approaches to global security and justice. Honorary degree recipients participating in Saturday’s slate of Commencement Forums include physician and public health leader Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, Nobel Laureate and economist Guido Imbens, and technology scholar and educator Zeynep Tüfekçi. The day’s forums begin at 9 and 11 a.m. and at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Full details and schedules are included on Brown’s Commencement website.
Class of 2020 Procession 9:45 a.m. | The Van Wickle Gates
Members of the Class of 2020 will take part in this Commencement tradition as they march across the College Green, through the Van Wickle Gates, and process to their Commencement ceremonies. Undergraduates will process to the First Baptist Church in America for their ceremony. Graduate students will process to Simmons Quad for their ceremony.
Graduate Class of 2020 Commencement Ceremony 10:15 a.m. | Ruth J. Simmons Quadrangle
Graduate students who completed studies in October 2019, February 2020 and May 2020 will be welcomed back to campus for a ceremony that will include many of the time-honored traditions of Commencement. A procession will precede the ceremony, which will be presided over by Dean of the Graduate School Andrew G. Campbell and Dean of the School of Professional Studies Leah VanWey. Mira Nikolova and Abdullah Shihipar, who respectively earned a Ph.D. and master’s from Brown in 2020, will return to campus to address their fellow alumni. The ceremony will be live-streamed on the web.
Undergraduate Class of 2020 Commencement Ceremony 10:30 a.m. | First Baptist Church
Members of the undergraduate Class of 2020 will assemble at the First Baptist Church in America for a unique ceremony complete with time-honored traditions of Commencement. Paxson will preside over the ceremony, which will include student performances and more, and Brown alumni Sydney Lo and Dhruv Singh will deliver Commencement speeches. Shaggy, a reggae icon and former U.S. Marine, will receive an honorary degree and deliver an honorary degree oration. All guests and family members are invited to watch the ceremony from the College Green, where the event will be simulcast, as space is limited inside the church. The ceremony will also be live-streamed on the web.
Class of 2022 Baccalaureate Service 2:30 p.m. | Meeting House of the First Baptist Church in America
Brown’s Baccalaureate tradition derives from the immense range of religious, ethnic, geographic, linguistic and musical traditions present within the campus community. The multifaith service incorporates many spiritual and cultural traditions, embraces lively expressions of thanksgiving, harmony and rhythm, and includes music, dance, student performances and spiritual readings. Because the Meeting House can accommodate only the graduating class, the service will be live-streamed on the web and simulcast for family and friends, who can watch it on the College Green. This year’s Baccalaureate address will be delivered by Dr. Seth Berkley, a physician and public health leader who earned his bachelor’s degree and M.D. from Brown, who will receive an honorary degree on Sunday.
Sunday, May 29
Commencement 2022 Procession 9:30 a.m. | The Van Wickle Gates
The University’s ceremonial Van Wickle Gates open for only two reasons: when new students enter campus to begin their studies and when new graduates depart for the world beyond Brown. Graduates process through the gates and onto their respective Commencement ceremonies, and alumni join in the fun. In order to accommodate graduates, families and friends who wish to take photographs, the Van Wickle Gates will remain open throughout the day.
Warren Alpert Medical School Ceremony 10:00 a.m. | First Unitarian Church
Dr. Mukesh K. Jain will preside over his first graduation ceremony as Brown’s dean of medicine and biological sciences and will administer the Physician’s Oath, a version of the Hippocratic Oath prepared by the M.D. Class of 1975, the school’s first graduating class. This year’s graduating class of 148 will continue their training at residency programs across the country. Dr. Allan R. Tunkel, professor of medicine and medical science, will deliver the faculty address, titled “Lessons Learned From My Life as a Physician.” And graduate Adriel Barrios-Anderson will present the student address, titled “Experts in Uncertainty.” The ceremony will be live-streamed on the web.
Doctoral Ceremony 10:30 a.m. | Pembroke Field
Andrew G. Campbell, dean of the Graduate School, will preside, and more than 280 graduates will receive doctoral degrees. Jiuyang Bai, who will earn his Ph.D. in cognitive science, will deliver the student address. Highlights of the ceremony also include presentation of the Horace Mann Medal, established in 2003 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Graduate School and awarded annually to a Brown graduate who has made significant contributions in their field, and the Joukowsky Family Foundation Outstanding Dissertation Awards. Astrophysicist Brian G. Keating, a 2000 Ph.D. graduate of Brown, will receive the Horace Mann Medal and will speak at a 12:30 p.m. Commencement Forum on Saturday. The ceremony will be live-streamed on the web.
Master’s Ceremony 10:30 a.m. | Meehan Auditorium
The Class of 2022 Master’s Commencement Ceremony is led by Dean of the School of Professional Studies Leah VanWey and includes an invocation, welcome, student awards, awarding of more than 800 master’s degrees and a benediction. The student address will be delivered by Amelia Spalter, who will receive her master’s degree in religious studies. Spalter was selected as the speaker by the Graduate Student Council. The ceremony will be live-streamed on the web.
College Ceremony 12:15 p.m. | The First Baptist Church in America
Since 1776, all but three Brown University Commencements have been held at the Meeting House. In 2006, when the graduating senior class had grown too large to be safely accommodated, the students voted to preserve the tradition by holding a portion of the Commencement ceremony on the church grounds. President Christina Paxson will greet the class, deliver remarks and confer bachelor degrees on the church grounds. The ceremony will be live-streamed on the web, and simulcast for family and friends to view via screens on the College Green.
University Ceremony 1:15 p.m. | The College Green
Graduating seniors march back up College Hill to the College Green, where they join family members, friends and guests along with graduate and medical students for the University ceremony. Paxson will preside, and seniors orators Kaitlan Bui, Alexandra Ali Martínez and Michelle Liu will address their fellow graduates. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will deliver a Commencement oration, and honorary and symbolic degrees will be awarded. The ceremony will be live-streamed on the web.
Departmental Ceremonies 2:45 | Various locations
All degrees are symbolically conferred during the University Commencement Ceremony. Separate departmental ceremonies for each academic department follow the main ceremony and provide a more intimate atmosphere for families and College graduates. Many departments also welcome graduate students. Location information by department is listed on the Commencement website.