PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown President Christina H. Paxson will preside over the University’s 255th Commencement on Sunday, May 28, on the College Green. The ceremony concludes Brown’s three-day Commencement and Reunion Weekend 2023, which will bring more than 10,000 people to College Hill.
Brown Commencements have been major events for University guests and Providence residents since the 18th century. Many of the weekend’s events are open to the public — a summary follows here, and additional details and updates are available on Brown’s Commencement and Reunion websites.
Many of the weekend’s events — including the Baccalaureate service on Saturday, the procession on Sunday and both the College and University ceremonies on Sunday — will be streamed live on the web.
Graduates and guests can also download the BrownU mobile app to find information on the go during Commencement and Reunion Weekend, including events, campus maps, dining and parking options, locations of water stations and restrooms, and more. Users can log in with a Brown ID or as a guest.
Friday, May 26
Graduating Veterans and ROTC Recognition Ceremony 2:30 p.m. | Metcalf Research Building
Convened by the Office of Military-Affiliated Students, the annual ceremony will celebrate the success of graduating student veterans and the commissioning of graduating ROTC students as they begin their careers as U.S. military officers.
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. Scheduled activities include receptions, forums, Bruno’s Block Party for alumni and families, 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 brings more than 10,000 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 27
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, 16 in total, address timely issues on topics that range from preparing for the next public health catastrophe, to Black legacy and history at Brown, to mental health and gun violence in America. Saturday’s forums begin at 9 and 11 a.m. and at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Full details and schedules are here.
Baccalaureate Service 2:15 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 simulcast for family and friends, who can watch it from the College Green. This year’s Baccalaureate address will be delivered by Carlos Lejnieks, a Brown Class of 2000 graduate who is an accomplished youth development leader and president of the Brown Alumni Association.
Sunday, May 28
Commencement Procession 9:45 a.m. | Faunce Arch, 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. The procession begins at 9:45 a.m. at Faunce Arch. In order to accommodate graduates, families and friends who wish to take photographs, the Van Wickle Gates will remain open on Sunday afternoon and Monday.
Warren Alpert Medical School Ceremony 10:00 a.m. | First Unitarian Church
Dr. Mukesh K. Jain, dean of medicine and biological sciences, will preside over the ceremony 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 134 will begin their practices with residency training. Dr. Steven Rougas, director of the medical school’s doctoring program and an associate professor, will deliver the faculty address, titled “Learners, You May Begin.” Graduate John Johnson will present the student address, titled “Becoming More of Ourselves.”
Doctoral Ceremony 10:30 a.m. | Pembroke Field
Thomas A. Lewis, dean of the Graduate School, will preside, and nearly 250 graduates will receive doctoral degrees. Kathryn Thompson, who will earn her Ph.D. in health services research, will deliver the student address. Highlights of the ceremony also include presentation of the Horace Mann Medal and the Joukowsky Family Foundation Outstanding Dissertation Awards.
Master’s Ceremony 10:30 a.m. | Meehan Auditorium
Shankar Prasad, dean of the School of Professional Studies, will preside, along with representatives of the schools of engineering and public health. Nearly 900 students will receive master’s degrees. [Editor's Note: the number of master's graduates has been updated since original publication.] The student address will be delivered by Hamidou Sylla, who will receive his master of public affairs. Sylla was selected as the speaker by the Graduate Student Council.
College Ceremony 12:15 p.m. | Meeting House of the First Baptist Church in America
The senior class assembles on the lawn of the First Baptist Church in America for the official conferral of undergraduate degrees. President Christina H. Paxson will greet the class, deliver remarks and confer bachelor degrees. The ceremony will be live-streamed 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 for the University ceremony, which includes:
Since its founding in 1764, Brown has selected members of the graduating class to speak during the Commencement ceremony. Two members of the Class of 2023 were chosen by a committee of students, faculty and administrators to deliver orations at Commencement:
- Kailiang Fu, a double concentrator in history and applied math-computer science
- Margherita Micaletti-Hinojal, a double concentrator in political science and philosophy
Honorary degrees are awarded by the Board of Fellows of the Brown Corporation and conferred by the University president on the College Green. The University will honor six candidates who have achieved great distinction in their fields:
- Douglas W. Diamond — Nobel Laureate and economist
- Elaine G. Luria — U.S. Navy veteran and legislative leader
- Bernicestine Elizabeth McLeod Bailey — IT leader and Pembroke Center champion
- Kevin Mundt — Business leader and Brown Athletics champion
- Ruth Oppenheim — Holocaust survivor and educator
- Gina Raimondo — U.S. Secretary of Commerce
Awarding of Diplomas 2:30 | Various locations
Graduating seniors will be celebrated during more than 50 departmental ceremonies immediately following the University ceremony. Location information is available on Brown’s Commencement website.
News Media Access and Credentials
University-issued media credentials are required for journalists seeking access to Sunday’s procession route, Van Wickle Gates and media platform at the University Ceremony. 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 5 p.m. on Thursday, 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.