Date May 15, 2024
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Brown University’s 256th Commencement set for Sunday, May 26

Sunday's procession and University Ceremony on the College Green will cap Brown's three-day celebration of Commencement and Reunion Weekend 2024.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown President Christina H. Paxson will preside over the University’s 256th Commencement on Sunday, May 26, on the College Green. The ceremony concludes Brown’s three-day Commencement and Reunion Weekend 2024, 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, 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 24

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 25

Forums

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 banned books, threats to democracy and gender equity, to the opioid crisis, RNA technology and deep learning from nature and machines. Saturday’s forums begin at 9 and 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Full details and schedules are available on the Commencement website.

Baccalaureate Service   1:00 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 Front Green or via Brown’s Commencement website. This year’s Baccalaureate address will be delivered by Jessica Meir, a NASA astronaut and Brown Class of 1999 graduate, who spent 205 days in space and completed 3,280 orbits of the Earth while serving as a flight engineer onboard the International Space Station in 2019-20, and made history as part of the first all-woman spacewalk. With the Master’s Ceremony moved to Saturday afternoon, the 1 p.m. start time for the Baccalaureate Service is earlier than in years past.

Master’s Ceremony 4:00 p.m. | College Green

For the first time, the Master’s Ceremony will be held on Saturday afternoon on the College Green. Among other benefits, this year’s change in timing and location will enable master’s graduates to participate fully in Sunday morning’s procession, allow students to have degrees conferred in the heart of campus with their names read as they cross the stage, and remove the need to limit the number of guests per graduate.

Shankar Prasad, dean of the School of Professional Studies, will preside, along with other representatives from the School of Professional Studies, Graduate School and School of Public Health. Brown President Christina H. Paxson will offer opening remarks, and more than 1,000 students will receive degrees, marking the University’s largest class of master’s degree graduates to date. The student address will be delivered by Nadia Tsado, who will receive a master of public health. On Sunday, master’s students will participate in the Commencement procession, proceed to a master’s reception at Woods-Gerry House, and then head to the University Ceremony.

Sunday, May 26

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 until 6 p.m. on Monday.

Warren Alpert Medical School Ceremony   10:00 a.m. | First Unitarian Church

Dr. Mukesh K. Jain, senior vice president for health affairs and 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 132 will begin their practices with residency training. Dr. Fred Schiffman, a professor of medicine, will deliver the faculty address, titled “Being There.” Graduate Sudheesha Perera will present the student address, titled “When Do We Become Doctors?”

Doctoral Ceremony 10:30 a.m. | Pembroke Field

Thomas A. Lewis, dean of the Graduate School, will preside, and approximately 250 graduates will receive doctoral degrees. Deanna Stueber, who will earn her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, 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.

College Ceremony   12:15 p.m. | 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 walk back up College Hill to the College Green, where they join family members, friends and guests for the University ceremony, which includes:

Senior Orators

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 2024 were chosen by a committee of students, faculty and administrators to deliver orations at Commencement:

  • Marielle Buxbaum, a double concentrator in literary arts and theatre arts and performance studies
  • Caziah Mayers, a double concentrator in Africana studies and computer science

Honorary Degrees

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 nine candidates who have achieved great distinction in their fields:

  • Tom Geismar — Graphic design pioneer
  • Claudia Goldin — Nobel Laureate and economist
  • Perry Kasper Granoff — Community leader and champion of the arts
  • Joy Harjo — Twenty-third U.S. poet laureate
  • William Kentridge — Artist
  • Pedro Noguera — Scholar of education and equity
  • Sarah Ruhl — Playwright and poet
  • Jerome C. Vascellaro and Mary Elizabeth Vascellaro (joint degree) — Business leader and champion of Brown, and community leader and champion of Brown alumnae, respectively 

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

Brown 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 Wednesday, May 22. 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.