University basks in aftermath of successful, beautiful commencement weekend

KINGSTON, R.I., May 25, 2022 – The words used to describe the University of Rhode Island’s 2022 Commencement matched the brilliant, sunny skies and the beauty of the Kingston Campus in full bloom.

Awesome, terrific, joyful, efficient and smooth were among the descriptions used by the graduates, families, friends, URI administrators, faculty, and staff to describe the three days of ceremonies, May 20 through 22, on URI’s historic quadrangle, the Ryan Center, and Keaney Gymnasium.

Smiles, laughter, hugs, and hearty congratulations were everywhere as the University conferred degrees on 4,069 graduates.

There were a few big firsts for this year’s ceremonies:

  • URI President Marc Parlange presided over his first commencement on the quadrangle and attended nearly all of the separate college ceremonies at the Ryan Center, Keaney Gym and quadrangle.
  • The president took his first golf cart rides around campus, joking that he wondered if they could go a little faster.
  • It was the first time since World War II that three commencement ceremonies were held in a single year at URI: the Class of 2021, with all nine ceremonies held at Meade Stadium in May 2021; the Class of 2020 ceremonies held in the Ryan Center last fall; and this year’s main ceremony returning to the quadrangle for the first time since 2019.
  • It was the first time that the University livestreamed all of the college ceremonies from three different locations. Three college ceremonies were held Friday, and three on Saturday at the Ryan Center. Two were held at Keaney Gym on Sunday and one was held Sunday on the quadrangle after the main ceremony ended.
  • Over two days and six college ceremonies, the Ryan Center welcomed a total of 14,000 visitors.
  • And Professor Robert Ballard, ’75, P.hD., Hon. ’86, discover of the Titanic, gave the keynote address virtually from his research vessel, the E/V Nautilus.

“What a weekend! It was an honor to recognize all our students during the commencement ceremonies these past few days,” Parlange said in a message to the community. “I can safely say that the energy and Rhody pride were just as high as the temperatures on Sunday! Many of you are departing our campuses for the summer, for your next adventure, or for a well-deserved break, but before you go, I just want to share a note of thanks.

“Thank you to everyone. From our incredible Commencement Committee and events management team, to our facilities crews and those working around the clock to ensure the ceremonies ran, well, like clockwork–your hard work was apparent and appreciated. To our deans, faculty, and staff who have supported our graduates and who led the ceremonies, thank you for your enthusiasm and encouragement. To members of the Board of Trustees and the alumni community, thank you for empowering and inspiring our graduates. And to parents, friends, and family, thank you for being an integral part of this journey. It is events like commencement that make me so proud to be a member of the Rhody community, where we can come together and celebrate our achievements and each other.”

On Wednesday, the president thanked the URI Commencement Committee during a morning debriefing session, saying that there were all kinds of special moments.

“We heard great feedback from students, families, and alumni (members of the classes of 1970, 1971, and 1972), who celebrated their time at URI along with the current graduates. It was not always easy, but it was smooth, smooth, smooth,” Parlange said. “Again, congratulations to everyone on the committee for organizing a wonderful commencement weekend.”

Shana Greene, director of University Events and chair of the Commencement Committee had high praise for the committee.

“Everyone worked so hard to make our students and families feel so comfortable,” Greene said. “Our staff was ready to help people stay cool, find water and just offer friendly greetings to our thousands of guests. Few know how much work goes on behind the scenes for such a celebration, but I do and I am extremely proud of all of your efforts and the efforts of your teams.”

She also paused to honor Neil Ulricksen, property control and supply officer, who is known for his dedicated years of service to the University and Commencement Committee, as well as his booming voice and laugh.

“Neil is retiring this spring and we want to wish him well and thank him for his spirited support of commencement. If we needed something, Neil was always ready to help,” Greene said as she presented him with a University memento.