Commencement 2022: URI’s 136th Commencement: By the numbers

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 16, 2022 – An estimated 15,000 people will converge in Kingston on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 20 through 22 for the University of Rhode Island’s 136th Commencement Ceremonies. As family, friends and loved ones gather on URI’s Kingston Campus to celebrate the achievements of the approximately 3,265 undergraduate and 804 graduate students who will be awarded their degrees, the University itself will be celebrating a return to tradition. For the first time since prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University will hold its Main Commencement Ceremony on the historic URI Quadrangle. Similarly, URI’s Graduate School Commencement Ceremony will return to the Ryan Center.

This year, the University of Rhode Island will bestow an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree upon Waterfire Founder and Executive Artistic Director Barnaby M. Evans. World renowned ocean explorer and professor of oceanography Robert Ballard, Ph.D. ’75, Hon. ’86, will deliver the undergraduate commencement address from aboard his ship, the E/V Nautilus

Here are some key facts and figures for media covering the events:

Graduate School Commencement Ceremony
Saturday, May 21, 10 a.m.
Ryan Center, 1 Lincoln Almond Plaza
Kingston Campus

Main Commencement Ceremony
Sunday, May 22, 12:30 p.m.

Procession begins at 12:15 p.m., led by URI’s Class of 1970, 1971 and 1972.
URI Quadrangle (Rain site: Ryan Center)
Kingston Campus

How many students will graduate this weekend?
This weekend, we will confer 4,402 (809 graduate and 3,593 undergraduate) degrees upon 4,069 students. (Some students will earn multiple degrees.)

What are their ages?
Students range in age from 20 to 69. URI’s oldest and youngest undergraduate students to receive degrees on Sunday are 64 and 20, respectively. Among graduate students, the youngest student to be awarded a degree on Saturday is 22, while the oldest is 69.

Where are the students from?
Though the majority of our students hail from Rhode Island, URI students come from all over the United States and the globe – representing 41 states and 31 countries.

Approximately, 52% of undergraduate degree recipients are from Rhode Island, 14% are from Massachusetts, 10% are from Connecticut, 8% are from New York and almost 7% are from New Jersey.

Among the graduate degree recipients, close to 60% of graduate students are from Rhode Island, 10% are from Massachusetts, 7% are from Connecticut, 3% percent are from New York and 2% are from New Jersey.

Who are the student speakers?
Brian L. Martin III has been chosen as the undergraduate student commencement speaker.  Martin, of Glocester, is graduating with a double major in secondary education and English and a minor in psychology. He is passionate about inspiring his students and ensuring they have an equal opportunity to succeed.

Afua (Rachel) Ansong, who will receive her doctorate in English and creative writing, has been selected as the graduate student commencement speaker. Originally from Ghana, Ansong emigrated to the United States at age 12 and spent her teen years in the Bronx, New York. In addition to receiving her doctorate, Ansong is also working toward her M.B.A., which she will receive later this summer.

What else can you tell me about the graduating class?
The University is extremely proud to graduate 57 military veterans this year – 32 undergraduates and 25 graduate students.

The class of 2022 also includes 16 sets of twins and one set of triplets.

Consistent with national trends, 57% (1,892) of the undergraduates receiving degrees are women, and 42% (1,366) are men. Similarly, 60% (482) of the graduate students receiving degrees are women and 38% (307) are men. Twenty-two students did not identify gender preferences.

How is this URI’s 136th commencement?
Many wonder how this could be the University’s 136th Commencement when we are 130 years old. According to our history, from 1943 through 1948, two ceremonies were held each year to accommodate the war veterans. Ceremonies were held in June and January or February. In 1944, there were three ceremonies — held in January, May and September.

What else can you tell me about this year’s commencement?
The Main Commencement returns to the Quadrangle for the first time since 2019. In a pandemic driven oddity, URI held nine separate college commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2021 in May of last year at Meade Stadium, and then in October 2021, during Alumni and Family Weekend, the University held ceremonies for the Class of 2020 in the Ryan Center.

Can I watch the ceremony online?
If you can’t be here in person for the undergraduate ceremony, you can watch it online at: The webcast will begin at 11:45 a.m. Sunday and will end at the conclusion of the formal ceremony on the quadrangle. URI’s graduate commencement and individual college commencements can also be found at:

What happens if it rains Sunday?
On Sunday, if the rain plan is activated, the main commencement ceremony will be held at the Ryan Center. The decision will be made by 7 a.m. and information will be posted on the URI homepage,, and the University’s social channels @UniversityofRI.

Special Instructions for media:

Members of the media should check in at the URI Department of Communications and Marketing located on the second floor of the Alumni Center, 73 Upper College Road, after 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 22 to pick up a media pass. The pass allows you access to podium guests, provides for seating at the press table, access to a/v hookups and other materials as needed.

In the event of rain, media should go directly to the Ryan Center’s main entrance and present press credentials, including a business card and photo ID. Media will then be escorted to room 117 for a URI media pass and seating instructions. Parking will be available in the lot opposite Meade Stadium. Staff from our office will be at the Ryan Center. If you have any questions, you can reach the Department of Communications and Marketing staff on that day by calling Dawn Bergantino at 401-874-4147 or 202-270-3211.