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.


  1. The University should make an attempt to find a speaker that at least five people here actually know who they are. The quality of those chosen to be speaker at such important events as Commencement have severely declined. You would think that RWU would want to have someone speak to the graduating class who they actually know of and will listen to, taking to hear any message that they have. The University seems to be upgrading everything including the lawns and buildings except the caliber of academia presented to the student body. They might as well have hired the custodian at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy because just as many people would know him/her as they do this woman.

  2. The chief justice of Puetro Rico! AMAZING! I hope someone asks him about his controversial ruling on SPF 15 v. SPF 40.

    Too bad Neirsh-bomb got divorced...all I'm sayin'.

  3. she doesn't even have a wikipedia page...

  4. The Chief Justice of Puerto Rico was horrible! Once again, RWU drops the ball!

  5. RWU Law that is...