Commencement & Reunions 2011

May 26th, 2011

If there was a theme to Brown’s 243rd Commencement, it was empathy, the ability to put yourself inside the skin of someone else. “If you lack empathy,” President Simmons told the members of the class of 2011 inside the First Baptist Church in America on Sunday morning, “you will find yourself lacking a fundamental necessity for leading a life of usefulness and reputation.”

Experiencing empathy can be painful, she said, and it can be embarrassing, but without it the graduates will have neither the will nor the ability to work with others to solve problems. And what’s the alternative to empathy, Simmons asked? “A world in which every person, every culture is out for itself.” Work every day, she urged the graduates, to strengthen the ability to empathize with others.


Senior Portraits

Ellen Duong ’11  Best of Both Worlds



Victoria Giordani ’11  Two Countries, One People



Jay Parker ’63  The Senior Senior



Minoo Ramanathan ’11  Family Medicine 



Matt Severson ’11  A Boy, A Cow, and a Dream



Paris Waterman '11  Game Changer




Slide Shows

Commencement Procession




Commencement Ceremony




Field Day





Honorary Degrees








Pomp & Circumstance

Honorary Degrees  An overview of this year's honorary degree recipients, a slide show of them receiving their degrees, and Arianna Huffington writes a blog post about getting a degree from Brown.

Commencement  Watch our slide show of highlights from the Commencement procession and ceremony. Watch a video of the entire ceremony. 

Baccalaureate  Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth ’77 gave this year's Baccalaureate Address, which he titled "Finding Your Way When There Are No Rules.” Watch a video of his talk or of the entire ceremony.

Graduate School Ceremony  The hidden connection between window washing and learning

Medical School Ceremony  One hundred newly minted doctors get two prescriptions for success.


The Student Orators

Elyse VyVy Trinh  "An Education In Altruism" 

Jacob Combs  "What I Learned From The Big Bad Woolf" 


Commencement Forum Highlights

BAM Forum The BAM asked a promiment publisher, a literary agent, and first-time author to dicuss the future of books and reading at the magazine's second annual Commencement forum, "Read a Book Lately?: The Future of the Book in an Age of eReaders and iPads." Read a brief summary of the dicussion and view a video of the forum. 

The Human Exploration of Space  Brown's contribution to the Apollo 15 mission to the moon.

The President's Hour  Ruth Simmons talks about reducing student debt and takes questions from alumni.

The Idea of America  Gordon Wood, Alva O. Way University Professor and professor of history emeritus, on the connection between the birth of American and this year's Arab Spring

Award Winning Theater: Brown Playwrights and their Work  Two of America's best playwrights talk about what got them into the biz.

The World and Women  In a Stephen A. Ogden Jr. ’60 Memorial Lecture, Nicholas D. Kristof, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and an op-ed columnist for the New York Times, talks about the status of women around the world.

How I Got My Real Name on My Diploma An alumnus looks back sixty years and remembers an encounter with an obstinate dean.

HIV at 30: Lessons Learned, Challenges for the Future Sandra Nusinoff Lehrman '69, '76 MD discusses the history of the pandemic and the future of treatment and prevention.

Childhood Obesity: Social, Economic and Medical Implications of the Pandemic Naomi D. Neufeld '69, '71 MSS, '75 RES talks about childhood obesity and its impact on the future of medical care and society.

Reunions & Events

Facing Reunion Fears An alumna steels herself to face her 30th reunion.

Field Day  See our slide show of highlights and read reminiscences from the field.

25th  View our slide show of the 25th Reunion.

50th  The 50th Reunion events can be seen here.

Parties  See our coverage of the Brown Daily Herald reunion, Unity Funk Night, Multicultural Alumni Committee reception, Swearer Center, 9/11 Memorial in this slide show.

Reunion Reports from Our Readers Get the lowdown on the 20th25th35th , and 45th reunions. 

On Open Letter to the Class of 2011 An alumnus recalls his Commencement speech back in 1976 and sees parallels to this year's graduating class.

Want still more reunion coverage? Check out the alumni relations site.


Photos & Video Memories From Our Readers

We asked alumni, families, and students to send us their pictures of from Commencement and Reunions. Here's what you sent us. 

The alumni relations office set up a video booth to ask alumni to talk about their memories of Brown. Here's what they heard.

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Related Issue
July/August 2011