Commencement

Schedule of Events

Commencement at Brown is a time of great ceremony, pageantry and rejoicing, much of it representing traditions that are centuries old.

Friday, April 30

The Baccalaureate Service

Virtual Only

This multi-faith service — which alternates between the celebratory and the solemn in marking a moment of gratitude and thanksgiving for graduating seniors — incorporates many spiritual and cultural traditions.

Presidential Forum: Reflections from Working in Space: A Conversation with President Paxson and Jessica Meir

Virtual Only

Dr. Jessica U. Meir ’99 has dedicated her career to the study of physiology in extreme environments. She earned a doctorate in marine biology in 2009 and has extensively studied the physiology and adaptation of animals and humans in extreme environments. In 2013, NASA selected her to join the Astronaut Corps. She made history during her first mission to the International Space Station as part of the first all-female space walk in October 2019. She and her crewmates contributed to hundreds of research studies and she has seen our planet from a unique perspective. Meir is one of the 18 astronauts selected for Artemis, NASA’s exploration program that will return humans to the Moon. In this forum, Dr. Meir reflects on her latest mission, the future of space exploration and how her time at Brown helped shape her career.

Saturday, May 1

The Warren Alpert Medical School Ceremony

Virtual and In Person

Ruth J. Simmons Quadrangle

Graduates will take the physician’s oath in the medical school’s 47th Commencement ceremony, which is in-person for medical and master's degree candidates only. Families and friends can participate virtually. A livestreamed procession will begin at 9:30 a.m.

Forum: A Discussion on Education Reform with Norman Atkins and Susanna Loeb

Virtual Only

Norman Atkins ’84 P’10 P’14, a 2021 honorary degree recipient, shares his experience at the frontiers of education reform over the past three decades in a conversation with Susanna Loeb, director of the Annenberg Institute at Brown University. A nationally recognized education innovator, Atkins is a founder of North Star Academy, one of New Jersey’s most celebrated charter schools, and Uncommon Schools, among the nation’s highest-performing charter school networks. Atkins is a member of the Charter School Hall of Fame and received the Heinz Award for Improving the Human Condition. He is also the co-founder and former president of Relay GSE, which trains more than 5,000 public school educators annually. Motivated by a lifelong commitment to fighting poverty through education, Atkins leads Together Education, a nonprofit innovation studio that catalyzes enduring, scalable solutions to pressing education challenges.

The Ruth B. Sauber Distinguished Alumni Lecture: Pediatric HIV and COVID: Bending the Curve in Two Epidemics

Virtual Only via Zoom

Dr. Kathleen Ferrer ’95, a hospitalist and HIV medicine specialist at Children's National Hospital, has had a front-row seat to two epidemics. In 2005, she ventured to sub-Saharan Africa to scale up pediatric HIV care, treatment and prevention in Lesotho. Over 15 years later, with lessons learned from her on-the-ground experience, she applied medical, public health, and advocacy principles to address the COVID-19 epidemic in Washington D.C. The Ruth B. Sauber Distinguished Alumni Lecture was established as a tribute to Mrs. Sauber’s uninterrupted 23 years as medical student affairs officer. This endowed lecture serves and fosters a lasting relationship between faculty, alumni and students in the medical school. Mrs. Sauber was the only medical school administrator to have worked with every Brown medical student since the school’s inception in 1972 until her retirement in 1994.

Forum: A Conversation with Agricultural Ecologist David Lobell and Professor James Kellner

Virtual Only

In a conversation with Brown ecologist James Kellner, 2021 honorary degree recipient David Lobell ’00 discusses his career working on environmental and food issues, the role that Brown played in his life, and his advice for graduating seniors. As an agricultural ecologist, Lobell conducts environmental research focused on food security, generating and applying unique datasets to investigate the impact of climate change on crop production in rural areas across the globe. A professor in Stanford University’s Department of Earth System Science, he has served in a variety of roles at Stanford since 2008, including his current service as director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment. Kellner, an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, is a fellow at the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society (IBES).

The Frank and Joan Rothman Lecture: On Growing Older: Aging, Caregiving and Grandparenting

Virtual Only via Zoom

Americans who reach age 65 can expect to live, on average, another 20 years. Despite stereotypes about later life, held not least by older adults themselves, it’s a time that can bring discoveries and pleasures, as well as challenges. Paula Span, a veteran journalist at The New York Times and an adjunct professor at the Columbia Journalism School, will talk about preparing to meet them. The Frank and Joan Rothman Lecture was established in 1995 by President Vartan Gregorian to recognize the career-long contributions to Brown University made by Frank Rothman (who stepped down as provost that year) and his wife, Joan. This year, the lectureship will bring to Brown a scholar to present work on contributions to our understanding of how individuals can enhance their own health — an area of particular interest to Joan.

The Graduate School Ceremony

Virtual and In Person

College Green

Master’s and doctoral students will be symbolically hooded in this year’s Graduate School ceremony, which is in-person for doctoral and master's degree candidates only. Families and friends can participate virtually.

Sunday, May 2

The College Ceremony (morning)

Virtual and In Person

College Green

Students will be conferred their baccalaureate degrees in the College ceremony, which is in-person for graduating seniors only. Families and friends can participate virtually. Students will receive an invitation to register for either the morning or afternoon ceremony.

The College Ceremony (afternoon)

Virtual and In Person

College Green

Students will be conferred their baccalaureate degrees in the College ceremony, which is in-person for graduating seniors only. Families and friends can participate virtually. Students will receive an invitation to register for either the morning or afternoon ceremony.

flourish

All events will be planned and held in a manner that is healthy and safe, including being fully compliant with the University’s COVID-19 Campus Safety Policy and the rules and regulations governing events promulgated by the State of Rhode Island.