Rhode Island School of Design



illustrations by Karen Ko BFA 18 IL
Artboard 1

Saturday, June 2 | 10:30 am

Rhode Island Convention Center
One Sabin Street
Providence, RI

Family members and friends are invited to join the entire RISD community in celebrating the Class of 2018 at this joyous event.

Bookmark this page for more in the coming weeks about this year’s ceremony, related events and other helpful information.

Plan ahead









A series of social gatherings to celebrate the collective success of the Class of 2018




Graduate hooding ceremony + special receptions




Commencement 2018

Doors open at 9:30 am. Admission is free but tickets are required to enter. Students may reserve up to six tickets for their families in early spring. Event seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The ceremony generally runs until approximately 1 pm and is immediately followed by an alumni toast outside the convention hall.

Asset 1

Graduating students

More than 650 of you—464 undergraduates and 208 graduate students—are expected to accept degrees at our exceptionally festive and colorful ceremony. With that in mind, please feel free to embellish your cap and gown however you’d like or wear whatever feels most appropriate for celebrating this major milestone.

Tickets + seating

Students who ordered tickets will be able to pick them up on May 21–25 and May 29–31 between 9 am–4 pm at the Career Center (123 Dyer Street, second floor).

Seating is open and available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you or your guests have accessibility concerns for your family, contact us at commencement@risd.edu.

Caps + gowns

Caps and gowns will be available for pickup at the RISD Store on May 29–31 between 8:30 am–6:30 pm, and on June 1 between 8:30–10 am for graduate students and 8:30 am–3 pm for seniors. You’re encouraged to embellish your Commencement regalia with bold, creative decorations of your very own.

If you have questions about your cap and gown, email risdstore@risd.edu.

Rehearsal + student lineup

Rehearsal for Commencement is Friday, June 1 in the Convention Center at 9:45 am. All graduating students who wish to participate in the ceremony must attend rehearsal in order to ensure that everything goes smoothly on Saturday. After rehearsal students will receive their design diploma and many also pick up their RISD alumni card.

On the day of Commencement students need to arrive at the Dunkin Donuts Center at 9:15 am in order to line up for the ceremony.

Diploma pickup

Every graduating student receives an academic diploma designed by the late John Howard Benson, a distinguished sculptor and calligrapher who taught at RISD from 1931-56. Each spring Experimental and Foundation Studies faculty member Alba Corrado BFA 60 PT handwrites the names in calligraphy on each graduate’s diploma.At the commencement ceremony, you will be handed a scroll of paper in lieu of your official Benson Diploma, which will be available for pickup immediately following the ceremony until 2 pm at the registrar's table in Exhibition Hall D and at the Registrar’s Office on June 4–6 during regular business hours.

Class of 2018 Senior Gift

The senior gift this year is the Class of 2018 Scholarship Fund. By contributing to this important piece of the graduating class' legacy, you will help make another RISD student's life a little bit easier next year.

If you wish to help grow this scholarship fund, make a gift of whatever dollar amount is meaningful to you by visiting support.risd.edu. No matter the size, every contribution makes a difference and increases the financial impact the scholarship will have on the life of a current RISD student.


Each year graduating seniors create an original design for the RISD Yearbook. If you pre-ordered a yearbook, you will receive an email your copy arrives in May.

Please email csi@risd.edu with any questions.

Commencement @ risd:store

risd:store offers a variety of diploma and picture frames, ornaments, jewelry and other accessories to commemorate your achievement. You may also visit the store's commencement page to order personalized announcements, thank you cards and other custom items.

Class rings

RISD does not offer an official class ring, but several alternative options are available at RISD WORKS.

Undergraduate + graduate student speakers

Each year two students—one undergraduate and one graduate—share their message with the RISD community by delivering speeches at Commencement. To propose a speech, complete the application to speak at Commencement 2018 by April 4 for full consideration.


Running from May 27 through June 1, CommenceFEST is a series of events that brings graduating students together in celebrating one another and the collective success of the Class of 2018. These social gatherings also help students discover resources that will aid them in achieving their goals as RISD's newest alumni.

Brown | RISD Dual Degree Class of 2018

In concluding their unique academic experience, all Brown | RISD Dual Degree graduates give capstone presentations demonstrating the connections they've made between different fields of study and how the pursuit of a dual degree has advanced their work and learning.

Presentations will be held from 12–4 pm on Tuesday, May 29 and Wednesday, May 30 at the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts' Martinos Auditorium, located on the nearby Brown University campus. All presentations are free and open to families, the Brown and RISD communities and the general public.

Commencement week housing

If you live on campus, your housing will automatically be extended through Commencement week. All graduating students must move out by noon on Sunday, June 3.

If you live off campus and your lease ends on June 1, you can sign up to stay in the first-year quad through Commencement. Housing will be available from June 1 through June 3 and must be reserved by May 1 by completing the Commencement housing form.

All graduating student meal plans will be extended through June 2.

Questions about housing? Contact Residence Life at housing@risd.edu or 401 454-6650.

Artboard 1


If you’re coming to RISD from out of state or out of the country, you’ll need to consider various transportation options from those that are listed below. It’s also important to book a place to stay as early as possible since hotels in and around Providence tend to fill quickly.

For those unfamiliar with campus, RISD is located just off of I‑95 and I‑195 in the College Hill neighborhood of Providence. Our official address is Two College Street.

Information for international families + friends

If you are coming from outside the US and require a visa, you will need an official letter of invitation from RISD. Graduating students should contact the Office of International Student Services (OISS) to initiate the invitation process.

Homesharing + other options

Guests can rent short-term accommodations in Providence through Airbnb, the global hospitality marketplace founded by RISD alumni Brian Chesky 04 ID and Joe Gebbia 05 GD/ID.

For families seeking an affordable space on campus, there will be limited accommodations in traditional-style residence halls. Please email housing@risd.edu for more information.



Providence is about a 15-minute cab ride from Green Airport (PVD) in Warwick, RI. You can find information on flights at pvdairport.com or by calling +1 401 737-8222. Once you are at the airport, you can take the shuttle to your hotel.

If you are flying into Logan International Airport in Boston, MA (BOS), you can find flight information at massport.com/logan-airport and +1 800 23-LOGAN (+1 800 235-6426). Logan is about an hour’s drive from Providence, depending on traffic.


If you are planning to arrive in Providence by train, you can find schedules and fares at amtrak.com or +1 800 USA-RAIL (+1 800 872-7245). Information concerning service between Providence and Boston on the Attleboro/Stoughton Line can be found at mbta.com and +1 617 222-3200.


Peter Pan bus company offers daily express service to Logan Airport in Boston and Green Airport in Warwick, RI, as well as to major metro areas such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. Schedules are available online or by calling +1 401 751-8800.

Greyhound bus schedules and fares are available online or by calling +1 800 229-9424, +1 402 330-8552 (if you’re calling from abroad without toll-free access), +1 800 752-4841 (for assistance for passengers with disabilities) or +1 800 345-3109 (TDD).

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) offers local bus service for easy and inexpensive transportation within Rhode Island, including Providence/Newport ferries.

Rental cars

If you are traveling by plane and need to reserve a rental car, you can find a list of rental services on the Green Airport and Logan Airport websites.

Ridesharing and car-sharing

On-demand transportation is available through Uber and Lyft, and at dozens of zipcar locations on or near campus.

RISD shuttle service

Guests with mobility needs requiring transportation from campus to receptions on Friday, June 1 or the Commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 2 should call RISD Rides at +1 401 427-6915.


Restaurants in Providence feature a wide variety of cuisines and dining experiences, many within a short walk of RISD’s College Hill campus and the downtown area surrounding the Commencement venue. Just a short drive away, the historic Federal Hill and eclectic West End neighborhoods offer even more popular dining options. Tables fill up fast throughout the city during Commencement week, so be sure to plan ahead as soon as possible.

Commencement day

About the ceremony

Doors open at 9:30 am, and we anticipate a crowd of 4,500 people on the day of the event. Guests will need general admission tickets to enter the convention hall. Seating will be available solely on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors will close at 10:15 am for approximately 15 minutes as the stage party and graduating students proceed into the hall. Guests should plan to arrive prior to 10:15 am or prepare to wait until the doors reopen at approximately 10:30 am. See here for a map of student seating and surrounding seating for guests.

The procession, speeches, awards presentations and other pomp and circumstance generally take more than two hours. Even though the Class of 2018 now numbers more than 650, RISD still prefers to read the name of each individual graduate as they walk across the stage. Graduates receive their official diplomas immediately after the ceremony.


Paid parking is available in a garage attached to the Rhode Island Convention Center. For other options visit parkdowntownprovidence.com. For guests with mobility needs, accessible parking spots are available in the Convention Center garage.

Accessibility + accommodations

The Convention Center is an accessible building, and the ceremony takes place in a single-level convention hall without stairs. Graduating students can let us know about the special seating needs of their families when reserving tickets for Commencement. You may also email us at commencement@risd.edu or call +1 401 454-6776 well in advance for information on entry and seating arrangements.

An ASL translator will be on stage during the Graduate Hooding Ceremony as well as at the ceremony. In addition, Commencement programs will include an insert with ceremony information translated into 20 languages.

Alumni toast

Immediately after the ceremony there will be a brief gathering outside the convention hall to welcome the Class of 2018 into RISD's global community of alumni.

Commencement photographer

GradImages is the official photographer for RISD Commencement. Please go to their preregistration page to receive commencement proofs via email. Proofs may be ready to view and shared electronically as soon as 48 hours after the ceremony. GradImages also mails paper proofs and provides optional text message notifications. GradImages guarantees your privacy and will keep your information confidential.

If you have any questions about ordering photos, please email the GradImages Customer Service Department or call them at +1 800 261-2576.

Artboard 1

The weekend

Graduates, family members and friends begin celebrating with departmental receptions on Friday afternoon, when a Graduate Hooding Ceremony for those earning master’s degrees also takes place. The festivities continue on Saturday morning with the Commencement ceremony itself. Exhibitions of student work offer visitors a view into the amazing output of this year’s graduates, and the RISD Museum welcomes graduating seniors and their families with free admission throughout the weekend.

Friday, June 1

Special ceremonies + departmental receptions​

Throughout the day various divisions and departments host celebratory gatherings and awards presentations open to graduating students, family members and friends.

Computation, Technology and Culture + Drawing Concentrations Reception

Chace Center | Room 506 (5th floor) | 20 North Main Street

History of Art + Visual Culture Concentration Reception

RISD Museum | Danforth Room | 20 North Main Street

History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences Concentration Reception

Fleet Library at RISD | Graham Visual and Material Resource Center, room 204, 2nd floor | 15 Westminster Street

Literary Arts + Studies Concentration Reception

Memorial Hall | The Tap Room | 226 Benefit Street

Film/Animation/Video Senior Festival screenings

RISD Auditorium | 7 Canal Walk

Graduate Hooding Ceremony

First Baptist Church in America | 75 North Main Street

Graduate students will have a special hooding ceremony in the First Baptist Church in America as part of Commencement celebrations. (Students should be seated by 12:45 pm, and doors will open for guests at 1 pm.)

Fine Arts Reception

Woods-Gerry Gallery | 62 Prospect Street

Furniture Design Reception

RISD Museum | Danforth Room | 20 North Main Street

Architecture + Landscape Architecture Reception

Bayard Ewing Building (BEB) | BEB Gallery | 231 South Main Street

Graphic Design Reception

Graphic Design Commons | 31 Canal Walk

Industrial Design Reception

ID Building | 161 South Main Street, 4th floor

Teaching + Learning in Art + Design Reception

TLAD + Project Open Door Studio Lab | 355 South Water Street

Digital + Media Reception

The Eddy | 95 Eddy Street

Saturday, June 2

throughout the weekend

Grad Show 2018

Rhode Island Convention Center | One Sabin Street

a massive public show of work by master’s-degree students from the graduating class, the annual thesis exhibition transforms a 28,000-sf space into a network of smaller galleries, affording students an opportunity to showcase multiple pieces from a final body of work.

Graduate Selections

Sol Koffler Graduate Student Gallery | 169 Weybosset Street

graduate work from the class of 2018

Senior Invitational

Woods-Gerry Gallery | 62 Prospect Street

undergraduate work from the class of 2018

You’re Invited

Chace Center | Gelman Student Gallery | 20 North Main Street

curated by Madeleine Billings 20 PT, Mary Kuan 19 PT and Madison Whittington 19 PT

Artboard 1

Speakers + honorees

David Hanson

commencement speaker / Alumni Award for Artistic Achievement

As founder and CEO of Hanson Robotics, David Hanson 96 FAV has built a worldwide reputation for creating the world’s most humanlike, empathetic robots, endowed with remarkable expressiveness, aesthetics and interactivity. His work in this realm has received widespread media attention and public acclaim.

With a BFA in Film/Animation/Video from RISD and a PhD in interactive arts and engineering from the University of Texas at Dallas, Hanson publishes regularly in materials science, artificial intelligence, cognitive science and robotics journals, and has been featured in numerous popular media outlets including The New York Times, Popular Science, Scientific American, the BBC and CNN. Dubbed a “genius” by both PC Magazine and WIRED, he has earned awards from NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Cooper Hewitt, among many others.

Cai Guo-Qiang

honorary degree recipient

Now based in New York, Chinese-born artist Cai Guo-Qiang works across several disciplines, including drawing, installation, video and performance. He is best known for his signature “explosion events” and paintings made by detonating gunpowder. Through these works the artist says he’s “attempting to achieve a sense of the eternal from the ephemeral.”

Cai’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim, which hosted the 2008 retrospective I Want to Believe. In 2012 he earned the prestigious Praemium Imperiale from the Japan Art Association and was among five artists to receive the first US Department of State Medal of Arts award for his commitment to international cultural exchange. In 2016 Academy Award winner Kevin Macdonald further illuminated Cai’s life and work in the Netflix documentary Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang. The artist is also the father of RISD alumna Wen-You Cai, who graduated in 2012 with a BFA in Sculpture.

Annie Leibovitz

honorary degree recipient

Over the course of her career, Annie Leibovitz has produced a large and distinguished body of work that encompasses some of the most well-known portraits of our time. She began her work as a photojournalist for Rolling Stone in 1970, while she was still a student. By the time she joined the staff of the revived Vanity Fair in 1983, she had established herself as the foremost rock music photographer and an astute documentarian of the social landscape. At Vanity Fair and later at Vogue, her work with actors, directors, writers, musicians, athletes and political and business figures—as well as her fashion photographs—expanded her collective portrait of contemporary life.

Leibovitz has published several books and has exhibited widely. She is a Commandeur in the French government’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and has been designated a Living Legend by the Library of Congress.

Risë Wilson

graduate hooding speaker

For two decades social entrepreneur Risë Wilson has been a powerful voice for the arts as a catalyst for change and community building. Currently the chief program officer for The High Line, a public park and cultural center on Manhattan's West Side, she is known for founding The Laundromat Project in 1998. The New York-based nonprofit stages public arts projects in laundromats throughout Harlem, the South Bronx and other areas of city, inspiring people to not just view art but also “reconsider their own neighborhoods [by] discovering art in unexpected places.”

Wilson's work in arts and culture advocacy extends to previous roles at the Ford Foundation, MoMA and Parsons. She holds a BA from Columbia University, where she was a Kluge Scholar, and an MA from NYU, where she was a MacCracken Fellow.

Emma Werowinski

undergraduate speaker / BFA Textiles 2018

Emma Werowinski 18 TX grew up in the woods in Massachusetts. She enjoys drawing flowcharts, watching C-SPAN, reading government manuals, deciphering organizational power structures and devising ways for artists to work within the US government. At RISD she has served as a Pre-Orientation Service Experience leader, a member of the Social Equity Action Committee and on the leadership team of Global Initiative. Her favorite place to work is at her loom, preferably surrounded by fellow weavers, and in her spare time she can be found sewing jumpsuits from upholstery or chatting with friends on Benefit Street—a mug of tea always in hand.

Biniam Assegid Kebede

graduate speaker / MID Industrial Design 2018

Born and raised in Ethiopia, Biniam Assegid Kebede MID 18 moved from Kenya to the US to continue his education at the college level. Through his favorite class at RISD—Business Principles, taught by Bill Foulkes—he realized that “design is inherently entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship is inherently design.” In his free time Kebede has loved using the digital fabrication tools at Co-Works to make things —like the engagement ring and case he designed and fabricated for his fiancée. After graduation he plans on turning his thesis project Letsqube into an actual product.

Artboard 1


Commencement questions?

please contact Institutional Engagement

RISD's main phone number

Registrar's office

degree requirements / academic status

Diane Walker or Brianna Smith

+1 401 454-6151


Office of International Student Services

Student Financial Services

billing questions / financial matters

Information Technology Services

Artboard 1