URI’s 135th Commencement: By the numbers

Media encouraged to cover Arts and Sciences ceremonies Sunday, May 23, at 10 a.m.

KINGSTON, R.I. — May 13, 2021 — The University of Rhode Island will confer 4,438 degrees (689 graduate and 3,749 undergraduate) academic degrees upon 4,093 students at the University’s commencement ceremonies during the weekend of May 21 through 23. The number of degrees conferred is greater than the number of graduates because many students earn more than one degree.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will not be a large undergraduate commencement on the quadrangle or a large graduate commencement at the Ryan Center.

Instead, all nine college ceremonies will be held at Meade Stadium, home of URI football. Students are allowed to invite two guests. The in-person ceremonies, which will include brief remarks by the respective college deans and ceremonial traditions conducted by President David M. Dooley and Provost Donald H. DeHayes, will be held rain or shine. Each ceremony will be streamed live, and the main commencement ceremonies, including speeches and music, will be pre-recorded and available for viewing commencement weekend and thereafter. To watch each ceremony and the recorded main ceremony online, go to URI Commencement 2021.

Here is the commencement schedule:

Friday, May 21

  • Graduate School, 10 a.m.
  • College of Nursing, 3 p.m.
  • College of Engineering, 6 p.m.

Saturday, May 22

  • College of Health Sciences, 10 a.m.
  • Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Education and Professional Studies, 3 p.m.
  • College of Business, 6 p.m.

Sunday, May 23

  • College of Arts and Sciences, 10 a.m.
  • College of Pharmacy, 3 p.m.
  • College of the Environment and Life Sciences, 6 p.m.

Here is some key information for media interested in covering commencement:

We encourage members of the media to cover the College of Arts and Sciences ceremonies at 10 a.m., Sunday, May 23, since it will be the largest of the nine ceremonies, and URI Communications has worked with the Commencement Committee to provide resources and support. A press table will be located on the field for a great view of the action. Each media outlet is required to provide the names of reporters, photographers and videographers by May 19 to Dave Lavallee, dlavallee@uri.edu, and Nancy Gillespie, ngillespie@uri.edu, URI Department of Marketing and Communications. Members of the media will have to check in prior to the event at the faculty/staff entrance at the south (Keaney Gymnasium) end of Meade Stadium, pick up media passes and be escorted into the stadium. High-heeled shoes are not permitted on the artificial surface. Masks will be required. Parking will be available in the Boss Arena lot. If you have any questions, please call Lavallee at 401-874-5862 or 401-465-4291.

Where are the graduates from?

Our graduating students represent 25 countries and 35 states. About 54 percent (1,830) of the undergraduates and 61 percent (421) of those from the graduate school are from Rhode Island. After Rhode Island, the top states represented in the Class of 2021 are Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.

How old are they? 

The oldest graduate student is 68 and the youngest is 22. The oldest undergraduate student is 67, and the youngest is 17. And, if you think you’re seeing double, that’s because there are 14 sets of twins in the undergraduate class of 2021.

How many veterans?

Today, we are proud to have 27 veterans–15 undergraduate and 12 graduate students–in our class. The University salutes all of them for their service and congratulates them on earning their degrees.

What are the percentages of women and men in the graduating class?

Reflecting a national trend, 60 percent of the Class of 2021 (2,040 undergraduates and 386 graduate students) is made up of women and 40 percent (1,365 undergraduates and 286 graduate students) is made up of men.

Who are the honorary degree recipients and main commencement speaker?

Mona Hanna-Attisha, M.D., M.P.H., the Michigan doctor who was responsible for uncovering the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, which began in 2014, will be awarded an honorary degree and give the keynote address.

Honorary degrees will also be presented to:  Col. William P. Babcock, ‘68, M.A. ‘72, U.S. Army, retired, recipient of the Silver Star, the Combat Infantry Badge, two Bronze Star medals, Purple Heart, Air Medal, and the Rhode Island Cross; Linda S. Birnbaum, Ph.D., the former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, and the National Toxicology Program; and Navyn Salem, founder and CEO of Edesia, a U.S. nonprofit, social enterprise, with a mission to treat and prevent malnutrition in developing countries worldwide will. 

Who are the student commencement speakers:

Undergraduate speaker

Edhaya Thennarasu of Chennai, India

Graduate speaker

Frank Martinez of Las Tunas, Cuba