There won’t be any tickets to the 53rd Community College of Rhode Island commencement exercises on Friday, May 17. None are being printed because, for the first time, there’s no question there will be enough seats for the graduates to invite parents, siblings, cousins and their friends.
This year, commencement ceremonies will be held at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence. Doors open at 3 p.m. The commencement procession starts at 4:15, said Patrick Stone, the college’s director of information.
Stone said the decision to move the ceremony to the Dunk was based on the limitations the college faced if they were held at either the Lincoln or Warwick campus field houses. The Knight Campus field house has been used for the last several years, but with a capacity of 2,700, CCRI had to limit the number of guests each of the graduates could invite.
With the Dunk, said Stone, those restrictions have been lifted. The Dunk has seating for 12,400.
But while CCRI use of the Dunk has solved one problem, it has put a crimp into the plans of Warwick schools. Ever since the Warwick Musical Theater closed – now the site of a Lowe’s – Warwick high school graduations have been held at CCRI. That has worked fairly well, as the staging, most of the seating and the sound system used by the college simply stays in place for the Warwick graduations. Warwick schools even followed the college to the Lincoln campus the few times the college held commencement there.
“It fell through the cracks,” Catherine Bonang of the Warwick superintendent’s office says of CCRI’s decision to use the Dunk. Warwick learned of the decision in January.
Warwick graduations will still be held at the CCRI Knight Campus. The Toll Gate graduation will be held June 5 with Pilgrim the following day. Both ceremonies will start at 6 p.m.
Putting together the Warwick graduations is going to take some doing and money. Bonang said Warwick would be responsible for paying CCRI setup crews as well as renting audio equipment and chairs. She estimated the cost of the setup at $10,000.
As for the CCRI ceremony, Stone said the governor, state office holders and the congressional delegation have been invited and that he expected the ceremony would not differ dramatically from prior commencements with CCRI President Meghan Hughes delivering remarks as well as students. He said the program hasn’t been finalized.
Parking, which was free at the CCRI campuses, may be more of an issue in Providence. Stone pointed out that parking is available at Providence Place Mall, the Rhode Island Convention Center and private lots.
In preparation for commencement, CCRI will hold a “grad fest” this Wednesday from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Knight Campus. Soon-to-be graduates will have the opportunity to obtain graduation information, complete forms and get their caps and gowns. Stone said the career center would be open as well as college personnel to assist those students seeking to transfer to another institution after having earned an associate degree.