RIC Confers 1,374 Baccalaureate Degrees at Undergraduate Commencement

Rhode Island storyteller Valerie Tutson.

Rhode Island storyteller Valerie Tutson.


Extolling the benefits of a Rhode Island College education, Class of 2014 President Kevin Martin took his school pride to the stage at the college’s undergraduate commencement last weekend.

Martin, who plans to study law at Marquette University in the fall, said he is confident that RIC has more than prepared his fellow graduates for their future. 

“We aren’t afraid to enter the real world, because we are already in it,” he said, adding that RIC graduates have what it takes to navigate around obstacles and persevere in their dreams. “Employers will hire RIC graduates because we will show up and work hard.”

Martin was one of 1,374 students to receive undergraduate degrees at RIC’s 2014 baccalaureate commencement ceremony.

More than 8,000 people attended the ceremonies, including U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Congressman James R. Langevin and U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline.

Also in attendance were R.I. Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, North Providence Mayor Charles A. Lombardi and R.I. Board of Education Chair Eva-Marie Mancuso.

Due to reports of inclement weather, Rhode Island’s dignitaries did not speak at the ceremony, but many offered their congratulations to the Class of 2014 on social media channels. Congressman and RIC alumnus Langevin (@jimlangevin) tweeted:

"As a ‪@RICNews alum, I hope all today's graduates leave here with the confidence to dream big and turn those dreams into reality."

Commencement speaker and R.I. storyteller Valerie Tutson told graduates to follow their dreams and to live a life of their own crafting.

Tutson, director of FUNDA FEST: A Celebration of Black Storytelling and a founding member of Rhode Island Black Storytellers, relayed a story originating with American folklorist Zora Neale Hurston and advising the audience to “jump at the sun” to overcome obstacles.

RIC President Nancy Carriuolo conferred an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree on Tutson. The president also conferred an Honorary Doctor of Pedagogy degree on Irene Kenny, RIC Class of 1935, and an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree on John Hazen White Jr., CEO and president of Taco, Inc.

A 100-year-old Narragansett resident, Kenny attended RIC when its name was Rhode Island College of Education and when no tuition fees were charged. Kenny helped found the R.I.C.E. student rifle club in the early 1930s. A graduate of Hope High School, Kenny taught elementary school for 40 years in Rhode Island. Her daughter and several grandchildren also became teachers.

President Nancy Carriuolo praised White Jr. for his contributions to Rhode Island as an industry leader and an ardent supporter of workforce development. In 2012, White expanded his company’s employee and client education program by building a state-of-the-art Innovation and Development Center.

During commencement, RIC honored the 50th anniversary of the Class of 1964. As is tradition, the Golden Anniversary Class made a gift to Rhode Island College. Their $102,492 gift includes a $75,000 gift to the Alex and Ani Hall that will be matched by $75,000 from the Carter Foundation.

Before the conclusion of the day’s ceremonies, Class of 2014 members Tyler Indyck and Sarah Pothier serenaded the audience with a rendition of The Beatles’ “In My Life.” Pothier and Indyck were the winners of the Richard Maltby Jr. Award for Musical Theater Excellence from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) Region I competition – Pothier in 2013 and Indyck in 2014.

RIC graduated 574 students with honors: 74 summa cum laude, 168 magna cum laude and 332 cum laude.