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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI to confer seven honorary degrees during 119th Commencement ceremonies

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KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 10, 2005 -- One is the president of a University in South Korea and another is the CEO of an Amsterdam-based publishing company that operates in 25 countries. One local man is known for his extraordinary generosity and another is known for his work for the University. One is a Pulitzer-winning playwright and another is a doctor committed to helping senior citizens live happy and healthy lives. Yet another is an award-winning author who will speak at the undergraduate commencement.

All seven individuals will receive honorary degrees from the University of Rhode Island during its 119th Commencement ceremonies.

The two recipients who will receive their honorary degrees during graduate ceremonies on Saturday, May 21 are:

John Aristotle Stoukides, M.D. of Seekonk, Mass. As the director of geriatric services at Roger Williams Medical Center, Stoukides is helping to change the landscape for care of the elderly, striving to keep his patients healthy and actively engaged in life for as long as possible. The doctor is committed to a team-based interdisciplinary practice so that his older patients whose health needs can be complex and challenging get the best possible care.

He is founding faculty member in the Rhode Island Geriatric Education Center and plays a key role in the development of an interdisciplinary curriculum for continuing education programs for health care and human services across the state. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree.

Paula Vogel, the Adele Kellenberg Seaver Professor of Creative Writing at Brown University, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for her play, How I Learned to Drive. The screenplay about a pedophile has been produced all over the world.

Her other plays, The Baltimore Waltz, Hot N Throbbing, Desdemona, The Mineola Twins, The Long Christmas Ride Home, And Baby Makes Seven, and the Oldest Profession, tackled such subjects as AIDS, pornography, prostitution, and gay and lesbian relationships.

Vogel possesses the ability not only to explore such taboo topics, but also make them accessible to a wide audience. Her plays, paved with humor and humanity, entertain audiences while seducing them to travel to a place of thoughtful reflection. She will receive an honorary Doctor of Arts degree.

The five recipients who will receive honorary degrees during undergraduate ceremonies on Sunday, May 22 are:

Bestselling author Ann Hood of Providence, a 1978 URI graduate, who is this yearís commencement speaker. Her eight books include Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine, Ruby, and Do Not Go Gentle: My Search for Miracles in a Cynical Time. Her latest book, An Ornithologistís Guide to Life, was published last year by Norton. Her short stories and essays have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Missouri Review. She has won a Best American Spiritual Writing Award, a Pushcart Prize and the Paul Bowles Prize for Short Fiction. She will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Arts degree.

Nancy McKinstry earned her degree in economics in 1980 and is now CEO and chair of the executive board of Wolters Kluwer, an Amsterdam headquartered publisher and information services company that operates in 25 countries, employs 18,400 people, and earns $4.3 billion in revenue annually.

Before assuming her present position in 2003, she held a succession of management positions at Wolters Kluwer, each with progressively more responsibility, on a steady rise to the top of the corporate ladder.

Despite her busy schedule as head of a global business, McKinstry serves on the Presidentís Advisory Board for URI and on the Deanís Advisory Council for the College of Arts and Sciences. She will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Seoung-Yong Hong of Incheon, South Korea is president of Inha University. During the late 1990s, he was president of the Korea Maritime Institute, an important research institution, which analyzes major marine issues for the Korean government and industry. Recognizing the importance of international collaboration on marine resource economics and related maritime policy research and the University of Rhode Islandís place in it, Hong and the institute formed a close and fruitful relationship with the University.

As president of Inha, Hong helped establish the Global U7 Consortium, which is composed of seven leading institutions worldwide, including URI. The institutions are collaborating in education, research, and capacity building in four key areas: high technology, business, marine affairs, and logistics. Hong serves as the leader of the Council of Presidents for the Consortium. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Mark Ross of Warwick is a member of the founding family of Ross-Simons, a thriving jewelry business. The 1964 URI alumnus has been an active member of the College of Arts and Sciences Deanís Advisory Council. Recognizing the critical importance of the humanities in studentsí preparation for professional careers, Ross was aware that funding sources for faculty and students in the humanities was limited and most research was self-funded. He agreed to co-chair the fundraising efforts for the humanities to fill in those gaps. That effort has already surpassed its original $500,000 goal and has been increased to $1 million. In addition, Ross and his wife, Donna, established a scholarship endowment, which supports at least two students each year. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

John Murphy of East Greenwich is founder and CEO of the Home Loan and Investment Bank, which employs more than 300 people. Born of Irish immigrants, Murphy grew up in the Fox Point section of Providence, the youngest son of a widowed mother and later represented that section on the Providence City Council. He has never forgotten his humble beginnings and quietly supports charities that serve children by providing health services and educational opportunities. He has helped the Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence, St. Joseph Health Services, and St. Jude Hospital, among others. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.