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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Chief Justice Williams to speak at URIís 120th Commencement

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Judge is among seven honorary degree recipients

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 26, 2006 -- Frank J. Williams, chief justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, will deliver the University of Rhode Islandís commencement address at the Universityís undergraduate ceremonies on May 21. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

The noted Lincoln scholar cannot promise that his presentation will be as brief as the Gettysburg address (272 words in two and a half minutes), but he says his comments will be succinct. The chief justice notes that this yearís commencement will mark the 66th anniversary of his fatherís graduation from the University in 1940.

Williams was appointed to the Supreme Court by former Gov. Lincoln Almond in 2001 after serving for nearly six years as an associate justice of the Superior Court.

A practicing attorney for more than 25 years, Williams has a long career in public service, serving as a solicitor and arbitrator for a number of Rhode Island towns and communities.

The chief justice was born in Cranston and earned his bachelorís degree in government and history from Boston University in 1962. A captain in the U.S. Army, he served in Vietnam.

A husband and wife are among the other honorary degree recipients. Ken and Sue Kermes of Wakefield, noted community leaders who strongly support, frequently fund, and rarely miss many of the Universityís arts programs will be given honorary degrees.

Other degree recipients are Janet Hirsch of North Kingstown, a URI professor emerita, who taught caring and commitment along with nursing for 27 years, Fred Joyal of Los Angeles í79, chief executive officer of Futuredontics, who helped URI students visualize a career in film by initiating our film festival and an endowment for our new film media major; and Thomas Wroe Jr. of East Dennis, Mass. í72 president of Sensata Technologies Inc., and the driving force behind the Universityís proposed Chinese International Engineering Program; and Dennis Langley of East Greenwich, president and chief executive officer of the Rhode Island affiliate of the National Urban League, which is devoted to empowering Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream.

Photo courtesy of Frank J. Williams