The Brown University News Bureau
Distributed May 7, 1996
Contact: Mark Nickel
A 1996 Commencement Overview
Brown University to hold 228th Commencement Monday, May 27, 1996
Chief Marshal Barbara Leonard '46 will lead more than 5,000 people down
College Hill on Monday, May 27, forming one of the nation's largest and most
colorful academic pageants. The Commencement procession and 228th academic
exercises cap a four-day Commencement/Reunion Weekend at Brown. (A schedule of
events is attached.)
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Bagpipers, highland drummers, marching bands and more
than 5,000 graduates, alumni, faculty, parent educators and University guests
will march down College Hill in a mile-long procession that announces Brown
University's 228th Commencement exercises Monday, May 27, 1996.
The ceremonial Van Wickle Gates, which opened inward to admit the Class of
1996 four years ago, will swing outward for the graduates' symbolic march into
the world outside campus. Chief marshal for the procession, one of the largest
and most colorful academic pageants in the nation, will be Barbara Leonard '46,
trustee emerita of Brown and former Rhode Island secretary of state.
Leonard will be assisted by Deputy Chief Marshals Dick and Nan Tracy, two
longtime supporters of the University from the Class of 1946 and parents of
four Brown graduates.
President Vartan Gregorian, presiding at his eighth Brown Commencement, will
deliver formal Latin salutations to more than 1,400 baccalaureate candidates
and nearly 400 recipients of advanced degrees. He will also confer nine
honorary degrees on distinguished guests during University ceremonies on The College Green.
Three separate convocations will precede the University ceremonies.
Medical students will gather at 8:45 in the First Unitarian Church for their degree
ceremonies and administration of the Physician's Oath by Dean of Medicine and
Biological Sciences Donald J. Marsh, M.D. Graduate students will assemble for
open-air ceremonies at 9:15 a.m. on Lincoln Field (behind Sayles Hall), where
Dean of the Graduate School and Research Kathryn Spoehr will preside over her
third Commencement exercises. (In case of rain, the
convocation will be held in the Pizzitola Sports Center.) Undergraduates will
march to the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church in America, site of
Brown Commencements since 1775, for the symbolic awarding of the baccalaureate
degree, beginning at 10:15 a.m.
Because the graduating class fills the Meeting House of the First Baptist
Church to capacity, parents and friends of the graduates who gather on The
College Green traditionally listen to a broadcast of the undergraduate
ceremony. This year, the University will also provide a video simulcast on a
14-by-22-foot video projection screen. The video unit will arrive on The
College Green in time to provide parents and guests with a simulcast of the
Baccalaureate Service Sunday afternoon and will be available in Meehan Auditorium in case of rain on Monday.
By approximately 11:45 Monday morning, all three groups will have returned
from their separate convocations for the University ceremony on The College
Green. At that ceremony, Gregorian will confer all degrees, grant ad
eundem degrees, present special awards and honors, and confer
honorary degrees. The University sets up 16,000 folding chairs for graduates and their
guests, but Commencement is usually a standing-room-only event. Flags from more
than 50 nations, representing the homelands of the Class of 1996, will be flown
during the University ceremony.
By long tradition, Brown does not invite a "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:
- His Highness the Aga Khan, leader of the world's Shia Imami Ismaili
Muslims, will present this year's
baccalaureate address at 1:30 p.m. Sunday,
May 26, in the First Baptist Meeting House;
- Dr. Vivian Pinn, the National Institutes of Health assistant director for
research on women's health, will address the M.D. graduating class during
ceremonies beginning at 8:45 Monday morning in the First Unitarian Church;
- Dr. Timothy Flanigan, assistant professor of medicine at Brown, has been
chosen by the M.D. graduating class as faculty speaker for the
medical school convocation
in the First Unitarian Church;
- Alexes Hazen, a member of the M.D. Class of 1996, has been chosen by
fellow students to deliver a commencement address in the First Unitarian Church;
- Stanley Katz, president of the American Council of Learned Societies and
senior fellow at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School, will address
candidates for advanced degrees during the
Graduate School's convocation on
Lincoln Field, beginning at 9:15 Monday morning;
- Andrea Anderson from Mount Vernon, N.Y., and Michael Palmer from Los
Angeles, two members of the baccalaureate Class of 1996, have been chosen by
their classmates as
student orators for the College convocation in the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church in America, beginning at 10:15 Monday
Receiving an undergraduate degree at Brown will be a three-step process on
Monday morning. During ceremonies at the Meeting House of the First Baptist
Church in America, President Gregorian will present candidates for the
bachelor's degree to members of the Corporation, who will authorize him to
confer the degrees. During ceremonies on The College Green, Gregorian will
confer all the degrees symbolically by presenting the degree to one
representative of each degree. He will also exhort the graduates in Latin.
Individual graduates will receive their actual diplomas during departmental
ceremonies held at various locations on and off campus at the conclusion of the
main ceremony, about 12:30 p.m. A listing of sites for these ceremonies is
included in the Commencement program, distributed on campus Commencement
If Monday is damp or drizzly, outdoor activities will go on as scheduled. If
a full-scale downpour begins, 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. Medical Senior
Citations and Hazeltine Awards will be presented during ceremonies in the First
Unitarian Church and the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church in America
respectively. Guests of undergraduates may view a large-screen video simulcast
of the ceremonies at Meehan Auditorium.
More than 4,000 Brown alumni, alumnae, friends and family will return to the
campus to participate in several days of celebration which surround
Commencement. Further information on reunion activities is available from the
Commencement/Reunion hotline: 401/863-7000.
The Commencement/Reunion Schedule
For directions to the Brown University campus, dial 401/863-1600.
Friday, May 24
- The Brown Bear Buffet, available from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Sharpe
Refectory, gives degree candidates and their families a chance to join alumni
and the Brown bear for a buffet dinner.
- Campus Dance, from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. on The College Green and Lincoln
Field, will feature music by the Duke Belaire Orchestra and two student groups,
Martha and The Tuesday Weld.
- Senior Sing, a traditional feature at the Campus Dance, takes place at
midnight on the steps of Sayles Hall.
- "Black Masque," described as a passion play with music and movement about
dreams deferred, hoped for and fought for, written by the late Professor George
Houston Bass, directed by Brown graduate Benny Sato Ambush, with music by Nancy
Rosenberg, a teaching associate in Brown's music department, will be presented
at 8 p.m. in the George Houston Bass Auditorium of the Rites & Reason
Theatre. The performance marks the 25th anniversary season of Rites &
Saturday, May 25
- Commencement Forums, presentations on a variety of topics by internationally respected speakers, take place all day, from 9:30 a.m. until 5
p.m. Twenty-four forums are scheduled, all open without charge to campus guests
and the general public on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Alumni field day will be held from noon until 4 p.m. in the Wendell R.
Erickson Athletic Complex (Aldrich-Dexter Field).
- "Black Masque," will be performed at 8 p.m. (see listing for Friday, May
- The annual Pops Concert, featuring the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra
in concert with soloist Rita Moreno, will take place from 9 to 11 p.m. on the
Sunday, May 26
- President Gregorian and other officials will discuss Brown's plans for
an expanded veteran's memorial that will honor the University's war dead from World War II, Korea and Vietnam at 9:30 a.m. near Soldiers Arch, Thayer Street at Manning Walkway. The University Hall bell will toll for the University's war dead,
beginning at 9:15.
- "An Hour with the President, a long-standing Commencement tradition,
features informal remarks by President Gregorian, with questions from alumni
and parents. It begins at 10 a.m. in Lincoln Field and will move to Sharpe
Refectory in case of rain.
- The 50th reunion class will hold a memorial service to celebrate the lives
of deceased classmates at 11:15 a.m. in Manning Chapel.
- Baccalaureate Service begins at 1 p.m. in the Meeting House of the First
Baptist Church in America. The service is preceded by an academic procession at
- The President's Reception, held after the baccalaureate service on the
grounds of the president's residence at 55 Power St., allows the president to
personally greet the graduates and their families.
- "Bring a Book To Brown" is a public service project in which returning alumni, parents and guests of the University bring new children's books, appropriate for grades 3 through 6. This year, thousands of books will be
distributed through the "Read to Me" program at Hasbro Children's Hospital.
Singer Carly Simon, a Brown parent, will read to a group of children at 4 p.m.
in the hospital lobby.
- "Black Masque" will be performed at 4 p.m. (see listing for Friday, May
- Concert by the Brown University Chorus, directed by L. Frederick Jodry,
will begin at 8 p.m. in Sayles Hall. The concert proceeds will support the
Chorus on its Iberian Tour.
Monday, May 27
- The Commencement Procession will be led this year by Chief Marshal Barbara
Leonard '46, former Rhode Island secretary of state and Brown trustee emerita.
She will be assisted by Deputy Chief Marshals Nan and Dick Tracy. It will be
more than a mile long, will involve more than 5,000 people, and will begin
forming on The College Green at 7:30 a.m.
Medical School Convocation
will begin at 8:45 in the First Unitarian
Graduate School Convocation
will begin at 9:15 a.m. in Lincoln Field.
- The Undergraduate Ceremony begins at 10:15 a.m. in the Meeting House of
the First Baptist Church in America, site of Brown Commencements since 1775.
- The University ceremony will begin at approximately 11:45 a.m. on The
- Graduating seniors receive their diplomas at departmental ceremonies
immediately following the academic exercises on The College Green.