Congratulations to the graduates and families of the Class of 2017!

Click here for a photo gallery of the Commencement event.

This website should be your source for the most up-to-date information on all things Commencement related. We suggest you check this site regularly as we will continue to update it as information becomes available and the day draws closer. As always, should you need assistance or have concerns, please contact the Commencement Office in the Department of Conferences at 401-254-3067. 

The 2017 Commencement Exercises will be held on Saturday, May 20 for undergraduate and graduate students. The processional leading into the ceremony will step off at 9 a.m. with the ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. We encourage all guests to be seated by 9 a.m. to ensure the processional can move into the tent and guests get to see the full processional.  

Key Dates for Commencement Related Activities

Graduates are invited to a reception hosted by President & Mrs. Farish on Wednesday, May 17 from 5:30-7:30pm in GHH. Dress is business casual and graduates must RSVP to or call 254-3154. Due to space limitations, this event is for graduates only.

Graduates will participate in Commencement Rehearsal on Thursday, May 18 at 12:00 p.m. in the Fieldhouse. Graduates will be briefed on the  ceremony and enjoy some time with each other before the big day! Free food, music and give-aways!

Saturday, May 20 is COMMENCEMENT DAY! Graduates must be in the Fieldhouse for 8:15 a.m. to check in and line up. Graduates must be on time as the processional (of which graduates are a part) begins at approximately 9:00 a.m. Graduates who are receiving tassels or cords from their respective honor societies and other organizations should make sure they have them prior to that morning. The only tassels given out on the morning of Commencement will be for high honors (summa cum laude -- 3.8 GPA, magna cum laude -- 3.6 GPA, and cum laude -- 3.4 GPA). Those graduates receiving high honors will have the honor listed on the name card they pick up when they enter the Fieldhouse. These honors are based on fall semester cumulative averages. Students must have completed at least 54 credits at RWU to be eligible to receive these honors. 

There will be a live stream of the Commencement Exercises at Ustream works well from both PCs and Macs, and will also work for mobile devices.


NBC 10 anchor Patrice Wood will deliver the commencement address at the Roger Williams University graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 20.

Wood, who has been delivering the news at Channel 10 (WJAR) in Rhode Island for more than 37 years, will be joined at the graduation ceremony by her husband, Paul Pabis, who is receiving a master’s degree in leadership from RWU, and by her daughter, Stephanie, who is receiving a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from RWU. Wood will receive an honorary degree in communications.

The university also will confer an honorary degree to Dr. Pablo Rodriguez, chair of the Women & Infants Health Care Alliance, president and CEO of Women’s Care, former medical director of Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island, and a clinical associate professor at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School.

Some 1,022 undergraduate and graduate students will take part in the 2017 Commencement exercises at the Bristol campus at One Old Ferry Road. The processional will enter a tent on RWU’s main athletic field at 9:30 a.m., and the ceremony will begin at 10 a.m.

“Many universities honor certain individuals at their commencement ceremonies by inviting them to deliver an address to the graduates or by awarding them an honorary degree — and Roger Williams University is no exception to this tradition,” RWU President Donald J. Farish said. “We think it is particularly important to recognize those who have contributed to the public good and who reflect our institutional mission of ‘strengthening society.’ This year, we honor two such individuals, well-known to many Rhode Islanders, whose life work reflects a deep and abiding commitment to making Rhode Island a better place: Patrice Wood and Dr. Pablo Rodriguez.”

Wood’s first name is Holly (yes, Holly Wood); her middle name is Patrice. She grew up on a farm in Rockford, Ohio, where she and her two sisters worked, taking care pigs and horses, driving tractors and pulling weeds out of soybean fields. Her father was a farmer and her mother was a newspaper reporter.

Following in her mother’s footsteps, Wood studied journalism, receiving a bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University. She worked as a news anchor/reporter for WDHO-TV in Toledo, Ohio, and held several news positions with WBGU-TV in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Wood joined NBC 10 in 1980. In addition to anchoring the 5, 6 and 11 o’clock news, she’s also known for her weekly “Tuesday's Child” reports, which feature children in state care who need permanent homes. Those reports have resulted in numerous children being matched with adoptive families. She has received many volunteer and professional awards, including the prestigious Silver Circle award from the New England Association of Television Arts and Sciences and the Congressional Angels in Adoption Award.

Rodriguez is a well-known community leader and active participant in civic and charitable organizations, both locally and nationally. He is past chair of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, the Rhode Island Foundation, the International Institute of RI, the Rhode Island Latino Political Action Committee, RI Project AIDS and the Democracy Compact. He led a $1.5 million capital campaign to benefit Progreso Latino, the leading social service agency for new immigrants. He was involved in the Health Care Reform Commission, which was in charge of drafting the RIte Care legislation in Rhode Island. And he was chair of the Minority Health Advisory Committee and the Minority AIDS Taskforce.

Rodriguez has received many awards for his community involvement, including the Community Service Award from the American Medical Association in 1994 and Planned Parenthood of RI in 1996. The John Hope Settlement House gave him their highest honor, the Paris Vaughn Sterett Award for community service, and the Ministers Alliance gave him with the Martin Luther King Service Award. Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza has called him the inspiring force behind the creation of the Latino Policy Institute at RWU, which Elorza co-founded. Also, he is a host of radio and television programs. He co-founded and serves as chairman and CEO of 1290-AM, Latino Public Radio.