R.I. Businessman Tim Hebert Tells Advanced Degree Grads to be Bold and Brave

Hebert received an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree.

Hebert received an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree.


Oscar “Tim” Hebert, CEO of the Warwick-based IT company Atrion, is regularly heralded as one of Rhode Island’s best businessmen, but having a highly public profile wasn’t something that came to him naturally.

Hebert told graduates at Rhode Island College’s advanced degree commencement that he had to overcome many things – no access to higher education, a fear of public speaking and dyslexia among them – to achieve his success.

To do this, he said, he needed to be brave.

“My belief in being brave has led me toward a life of taking risks, being willing to make mistakes, facing my self-limiting beliefs and overcoming natural fear,” Hebert said. “Success in life favors the bold. Whether starting a new business, climbing mountains or giving this commencement speech, I know I can always be brave.”

Hebert addressed 351 advanced degree recipients in a personal and moving address. RIC conferred on Hebert an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree in recognition of his support of the Rhode Island economy and his commitment to the Rhode Island STEM Center and STEM initiatives.

RIC President Nancy Carriuolo praised Hebert for giving so much of his time to state initiatives including as president and chairman of the Tech Collective and as a board member of CommerceRI and the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.

“We honor you for using your considerable expertise and influence to support and elevate the technical education of our state’s young people,” Carriuolo said.

Hebert told graduates that when his mother had him, she was just 15 and unprepared for motherhood. His mother, he said, learned to be a good mom and became his teacher, coach and mentor, exposing him early on to “incredible knowledge and grand ideals.”

For his first kindergarten show and tell, Hebert recited the Declaration of Independence.

“My mother was a leader in my life and she left her fingerprints on the man I have become,” Hebert said. “From her, I learned that being a leader is a choice. Most importantly, I learned that greatness…is measured by the positive impact that you can have on the lives of those around you. My entire life has been dedicated to trying to be a great leader and to having a positive impact.”

RIC also conferred an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree on Peter Arpin of the Arpin International Group and Renewable Now, and an Honorary Doctor of Health degree on Dr. Charles McDonald, founding chair of Brown University medical school's Department of Dermatology.

Arpin was honored for upholding the legacy of his family business, by being the fourth generation to lead the Arpin Group. Carrioulo also applauded Arpin’s work with Arpin Renewable, which works on low-carbon growth research and development initiatives.

McDonald was lauded for his work in training hundreds of medical students and dermatology residents, establishing a lasting impact on the scope and quality of health care in Rhode Island. Carriuolo also pointed to McDonald's “impressive” commitment to public service, including with the State Board of Education, the Providence Public Library and the Providence Health Centers.