Sunday, May 3, 2009

Commencement speaker announced

It's official: Roger Williams University has chosen a commencement speaker that may have many students, faculty, and relatives asking "who?"

Educator and author Joan Countryman will speak before nearly 1,000 undergraduates at this year's graduation ceremony, according to an announcement on the school's web page posted sometime over the past few days.

Before her work as interim head of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa from 2006-07, Countryman ran a private school in RI. She is currently retired and sits on the board of trustees at Sarah Lawrence University. She will be one of four people receiving honorary degrees at the commencement, along with RI senator Jack Reed, businessman Ibrahim Arikan, and RWU board member Jerrold Lavine.

The Chief Justice of Puerto Rico's Supreme court, Federico Hernández Denton, will speak at the Law School graduation where he, attorney Louise Durfee , and US magistrate Jacob Hagopian will also receive honorary law degrees.

Past commencement speakers have included the filmmaker Bobby Farrely, first lady Laura Bush, and track star Jackie Joyner-Kersee.