Convocation Ceremony Welcomes Class of 2026 and Transfer Students

Joining the RWU community are 1,063 new first-year students and 104 new transfer students.

By Melanie Thibeault
Students hold the Class of 2026 banner and lead the procession to Convocation.

BRISTOL, R.I. – Celebrated in person for the first time since 2019, this year’s Convocation welcomed the 1,167 incoming undergraduate students, with messages of encouragement and support from across the Roger Williams University community.

On Friday, donned in blue Hawk T-shirts, students processed to the athletic field for the formal ceremony, which welcomes new students and their families as members of the RWU community.

“We are a close family at Roger Williams,” President Ioannis Miaoulis said. “We want every Roger Williams member to feel like a part of our family.”

This fall, RWU welcomes 1,063 new first-year students, a 4.2 percent increase from last fall’s class as well as 104 new transfer students, a 36.8 percent bump from this time last year. 

As part of the ceremony, all incoming first-year and transfer students took the traditional Academic Integrity Pledge in front of the RWU community. 

Among Miaoulis’ advice for the incoming students: develop connections with faculty, take part in research and community engagement projects, and form lifelong friendships.

Amy Tiberio, Vice President for Enrollment Management, introduced the entering class of new first-year and transfer students, who hail from 623 different public and private high schools and transfer institutions and from 35 states and 36 different countries. Of these students, 83 percent are from out-of-state, and 17 percent identify as students of color.

In addition to being one of the most academically talented classes RWU has ever had, this new group of students is comprised of a student who owns their own graphic design and photography company, someone who started an independent sneaker selling business, a trained EMT and firefighter, a person who started a foundation to support children battling cancer, someone who works on coral reef restoration, and many children and siblings of RWU alumni, she said.

“I can only touch on the talents and experiences you are bringing to us. Individually each of you will make us a better institution, and collectively, you are an amazing class,” Tiberio said. “We cannot wait to see how you will challenge us and help us grow.”

In his opening remarks, Vice President of Student Life John King encouraged new students to reach out at any time to the dedicated faculty, staff, and student leaders who will serve as mentors.

“Learning is central to all we do as a university and while we learn together ... we are in the process of building community and caring about each other," he said. “The call to community requires all of us to listen and understand each other, to welcome and embrace all expressions of diversity and identity, and to respect and value the dignity of each individual and their experiences.”

New students processing across the quad to Convocation.

Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer Stephanie Akunvabey shared words from Professor Charlotte Carrington-Farmer regarding the history of our namesake Roger Williams and the town of Bristol, as well as encouragement to learn more about the thriving Indigenous communities in and around Rhode Island. 

“Don’t be afraid to use your knowledge to bring change to the world,” she told students. “Use your four years here to immerse yourself in your college, town, and state communities, and I hope along the way you use your education for good." 

In her address, Provost Margaret Everett noted that Convocation is not only an important transition for students but also for their families. “It’s a transition for parents as well, and we are really challenged to hold on and let go in new ways,” she said. As someone with college-aged children, “what I can say with a little experience is that it gets easier and more joyful.”

Delivering the Family Address, K. Babu Krishnamurthy P’22, ’23, an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, assured parents that their children are in good hands at RWU, commending the University’s response to the pandemic.

The success that RWU had with keeping the campus open and students safe was unparalleled. It was a tremendous commitment by the entire Roger community,” Krishnamurthy said. “As you are sitting here, wondering if your children will be OK, let me reassure you, thanks to the people on this stage and many behind the scenes, your students will be fine.

Student Body President Michael Arel ’24 encouraged new students to be engaged and take advantage of opportunities on campus.

He added, “Each and every one of you has your own unique story to share.”

Convocation 2022