URI to hold first Virtual Recognition Weekend to honor graduates

Graduate degrees to be conferred virtually May 16, undergraduate degrees May 17

KINGSTON, R.I. — May 11, 2020 — The University of Rhode Island will hold its first Virtual Recognition Weekend, Saturday, May 16, and Sunday, May 17, to honor the Class of 2020.

President David M. Dooley will address the Class of 2020 and confer degrees to approximately 3,588 undergraduates and 728 graduate students. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo will also celebrate the graduates and their accomplishments in her remarks to the graduates.

The Graduate School Virtual Recognition will be shown Saturday, May 16, at 9 a.m., and the Undergraduate Virtual Recognition will be shown Sunday, May 17, at 12:30 p.m. at uri.edu/commencement/y2020/.

The online events will salute our graduating students with remarks from each college dean, a performance of the “Alma Mater” by Elise Felker ’20, an electronic list of graduates’ names, inspiring words of encouragement from the Class of 1970, and more.

“This has been a challenging time for all of us in Rhode Island, especially for students, and I am proud of the University of Rhode Island’s graduating class’s strong spirit,” Raimondo said. “I am honored to join this celebration of the accomplishments of the class of 2020, whose students have come from across the globe to study in our state. URI’s commitment to research, community service, and academic excellence makes Rhode Island a better place to live.”

Dooley said from the very beginning of the crisis, URI students have proven their mettle as they remained positive and embraced remote learning.

“There are many words to describe the class of 2020, but some of the most appropriate are courageous, loving and innovative,” Dooley said. “Our graduating students exhibited resilience as their University lives were disrupted by the pandemic. They remained committed to their studies and research as we became an institution fully engaged in remote learning. Some entered the nursing and pharmacy professions before they even had their degrees formally conferred. In caring for their wider communities, many graduating students volunteered in innovative ways, all while social distancing, to make face shields, collect masks and personal protective equipment for health care workers, turn sleep apnea machines into ventilators and to help in so many other ways. In short, this community of students has shown us all how to love the stranger, provide help to health care professionals and those in need. Indeed, they have taught us profound lessons, and I congratulate each of them.”

Here are some fun and interesting facts about the Class of 2020. Fourteen sets of twins and 230 veterans will earn degrees during Recognitions Weekend. Among the undergraduates and the graduate students, the oldest students are 66. The youngest student in the undergraduate group is 19 years old, and the youngest in the graduate class is 22. And continuing a trend here at URI and nationally, the total number of women graduates far exceeds the number of men, with 2,481 women earning degrees, compared to 1,822.

Following public health guidelines, URI hopes to hold an in-person celebration for the Class of 2020 graduates at a future date. Plans will be announced well in advance to allow sufficient time for planning.

In the meantime, the University invites students, families, alumni and friends to share their Rhody pride with the world.

To help students, families, faculty and staff celebrate, the University has developed a variety of fun and celebratory tools. See below for a few tips on how to participate:

URI-Branded “Congratulations Class of 2020” Signs

Students, families and friends can download URI-branded signs and print at home or through an online vendor or local printer (24” x 18” lawn signs and 8.5” x 11” poster sizes are available), with the option to personalize.


Graduates may post their favorite pictures now, displaying their Rhody Pride. They may be highlighted during virtual recognition weekend! They should use #URI2020 in their social media posts, to engage with fellow graduates, families, and friends in the virtual celebration.

Instagram Filters

A URI Rhody Grad 2020 Instagram Filter is now available to download through the URI Instagram account, and use when posting to social media.

URI-Branded Zoom Background

Photos of campus are available for any graduate to download and use for their Zoom celebratory gatherings with graduates, family, and friends around the world.

After URI

As graduates begin their journeys from the University to their careers, the University wants to stay in touch. URI is proud of its alumni and wants to know about their professional successes. Graduates are asked to take this brief survey to update us on their plans after graduation and the best way to stay connected with you.