April 04, 2017

Dr. Roy Peter Clark ’70 to present address at PC’s commencement

The College will present honorary degrees to six distinguished individuals during the 2017 Commencement Exercises on May 21.


Dr. Roy Peter Clark ’70, an author or editor of 18 books who has taught writing to writers for nearly 40 years as senior scholar at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, will present the Commencement Address at Providence College’s Ninety-Ninth Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 21, 2017.

The ceremony, which also will highlight the College’s centennial, will begin at 11 a.m. at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence. [More information about Providence College Commencement]

Clark is one of six honorary degree recipients. The others are Barnaby Evans, creator of WaterFire Providence, an award-winning art installation that draws more than 1 million visitors a year; Elizabeth E. Flynn ’82, a former PC trustee with 30 years of senior-level business experience in banking, insurance, and risk management; Rabbi Wayne M. Franklin, senior rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Providence and a national figure in interfaith dialogue; Dr. Richard J. Grace ’62, professor emeritus of history, who has taught at Providence College for more than 50 years; and Navyn Salem, the founder and CEO of Edesia, a Rhode Island-based company that is helping to treat malnutrition in the developing world.

Dr. Roy Peter Clark ’70

Dr. Roy Peter Clark ’70

Clark, who will receive an honorary doctor of journalism degree, has been called “America’s writing coach.” For nearly 40 years, he has worked at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, the renowned school for journalists in St. Petersburg, Fla., serving as its first full-time faculty member, dean of the faculty, vice president, and senior scholar. As “a teacher who writes, and a writer who teaches,” he has taught writing to students at every level, from children to authors who won Pulitzer Prizes. His clients have included The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, and USA Today.

A New York City native, Clark was the first in his family to attend college. He studied English as a member of the Liberal Arts Honors Program at PC, graduated summa cum laude, and presented the class oration at commencement. He earned a Ph.D. in medieval literature from Stony Brook University in 1974 and was an assistant professor of English at Auburn University before becoming writing coach at the St. Petersburg Times in 1977.

Clark is the author or editor of 18 books, including Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer (Little, Brown and Company, 2006), which has consistently ranked as one of the top books about writing sold in the United States.

Clark and his wife, Karen Major Clark, met when he was a student at PC and she worked in the Alumni Development Office. They have three daughters and reside in St. Petersburg.

Barnaby Evans

Barnaby Evans

Evans, who will receive an honorary doctor of fine arts degree, is the creator, founder, and artistic director of WaterFire Providence, an art installation that lights up the three rivers of downtown Providence on weekend nights from March to November.

Evans is a native of Berkeley, Calif., who graduated in 1975 from Brown University. While studying biology and environmental science, he also developed a love for photography and an appreciation for Providence architecture.

WaterFire began as First Fire in 1994, an event Evans created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of First Night Providence. It was followed in 1996 by Second Fire, which he created for an arts festival and sculpture conference. With volunteers and community support, WaterFire has been an ongoing installation since 1997. Bonfires are lit at sundown on more than 80 wood-filled braziers floating on the rivers. Visitors can stroll the waterfront while listening to instrumental music, or enjoy a gondola ride.

Evans has brought WaterFire to Houston, Texas; Kansas City, Mo.; Columbus, Ohio; Tacoma, Wash.; and Singapore, and is engaged in projects in Venice, Berlin, and Rome. Among many honors, he received the Distinguished Service to the Arts Award from the National Governors Association in 2010. He is a photographer whose work is included in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Bibliothéque National, Paris; and the Musée d’art et d’historie, Fribourg, Switzerland.

Elizabeth E. Flynn ’82

Elizabeth E. Flynn ’82

Flynn, who will receive an honorary doctor of business administration degree, graduated summa cum laude from PC with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1982 and went on to earn an MBA from New York University in 1987. She has more than 30 years of experience in banking, insurance, and risk management at some of the world’s top companies.

Flynn launched her career with J.P. Morgan Chase in 1982 through the Chase Management Development Program in New York City. She rose to become executive vice president and had a variety of assignments in retail banking, the corporate sector, and technology and operations. From 2008-2010, she was senior vice president at AIG, the multinational insurance corporation. From 2010-2011, she was chief operating officer of Guy Carpenter, a leading global risk and reinsurance specialist, and from 2011-2015, was vice chair of Marsh Inc., the world’s leading risk and insurance services firm, and CEO and president of Marsh U.S. Consumer.

Flynn served as a member of the PC Board of Trustees from 2001-2010 and as a trustee for Providence House in Jamaica, N.Y., a nonprofit that assists homeless women, from 1993-2000. She remains active as a director of Webster Financial Corporation and Webster Bank in Waterbury, Conn., and as a trustee of the Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City.

She resides in New York City with her husband, Andrew Lott, and their two children.

Rabbi Wayne Franklin

Rabbi Wayne Franklin

Rabbi Franklin, who will receive an honorary doctor of divinity degree, is senior rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Providence, the second-largest Conservative synagogue in New England, and a leader in interfaith dialogue in the nation.

Rabbi Franklin was born in Wharton, Texas. He received a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1965 from Yeshiva University and a master’s degree in Hebrew letters in 1968 from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where he was ordained a rabbi in 1970. He was awarded an honorary doctor of Hebrew letters from the seminary in 1996.

Before becoming rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in 1981, Rabbi Franklin served as rabbi at Temple B’nai Shalom in Benton Harbor, Mich., from 1970-1975, and at Orange Synagogue Center, now Congregation Or Shalom, in Orange, Conn., from 1975-1981.

Throughout his career, Rabbi Franklin has worked to advance interfaith dialogue. Today, he is secretary-treasurer of the National Council of Synagogues, an interdenominational group of rabbis and Jewish scholars which engages in interfaith dialogue with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Council of Churches, and a group of American Muslims. He is co-founder and co-chair of the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue of Rhode Island and a member of the Rhode Island Board of Rabbis and The Rabbinical Assembly, a professional organization of Conservative rabbis.

Rabbi Franklin and his wife, Dr. Anne Presser Franklin, reside in Providence.

Dr. Richard J. Grace ’62

Dr. Richard J. Grace ’62

Grace, who will receive an honorary doctor of humanities degree, was named professor emeritus of history when he retired from PC in 2014.

With scholarly expertise on Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Britain and the British Empire, Grace began teaching at the College in 1965. He taught in the College’s signature Development of Western Civilization Program from its outset in 1971 and for several summers presented history seminars at the Providence-in-Europe Program in Pietrasanta, Tuscany. He continues to teach a colloquium to students in the Liberal Arts Honors Program, which he joined as a first-year student in 1958 and which he directed from 1970-1987.

Aside from three years spent studying for a Ph.D. at Fordham University, Grace has been at PC for more than half of its history. He has written “From Thee We Learned,” an essay about the College’s history from 1992-2017, for Values That Endure. The book, which is being produced in honor of the College’s centennial, will be published this spring. Additionally, a Chinese language edition of his book, Opium and Empire (McGill-Queens University Press, 2014), will be published by Beijing United Publishing Company this year.

Grace and his wife, Madeleine, reside in Swansea, Mass. Their children are PC alums: Marianne Grace Aguiar ’02, Benjamin Grace ’05, and Elizabeth Grace Heath ’09. Elizabeth and her husband, David L. Heath ’09, are the parents of the Graces’ first grandchild, Samuel.

Navyn Salem

Navyn Salem

Salem, who will receive an honorary doctor of public service degree, is the founder and CEO of Edesia, a Rhode Island-based nonprofit that produces a range of ready-to-use foods to help treat and prevent acute malnutrition in children living in developing countries worldwide.

A native of Connecticut, Salem graduated with a degree in communications from Boston College in 1994 and then worked as a marketing executive. In 2007, during a visit to Tanzania, her father’s native country, she saw how Plumpy’nut — a ready-to-use therapeutic food produced by Nutriset, a French company — was improving child health. Returning to Rhode Island, Salem used a $2 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development and a licensing agreement with Nutriset to open a factory in Providence in 2009. She named the company Edesia, after the Roman goddess of banquets and plenty, and relocated operations to North Kingstown in 2010.

The sweet, peanut-based, fortified pastes that Edesia produces are sold in foil packets. The nutritious pastes have reached nearly 5 million children in 48 countries since production began in 2010.

Salem is a 2014 Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute, a community of entrepreneurial leaders, and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. She was awarded the Roger E. Joseph Prize for contributions to human rights by Hebrew Union College and was named Bryant University’s New England Businesswoman of the Year. She is a trustee of Boston College.

Salem and her husband, Paul Salem, live in Barrington with their four daughters.

Commencement 2017 Events

Transform adversity into opportunity, Clark ’70 advises 2017 graduates

Commencement 2017 Podcast

Thank you videos from the Class of 2017

Commencement Address by Roy Peter Clark ’70 & ’17Hon.

Greetings from the senior class president, Gretchen Barrett ’17

Commencement greetings from the president

Commencement Mass homily by Father Shanley

Commencement greetings from the National Alumni Association president

Honors Program Reception student address: Brian D. Zied ’17

Class Oration by top student Victoria Timmel ’17

Faculty greetings from Dr. Christopher Arroyo

2017 Academic Awards Ceremony livestream

Honors Program Reception student address: Lauren Berolini ’17

Legacy parents congratulate the Class of 2017

Centennial WaterFire: 100 Years of Light with Providence College

Commencement 2017 Livestream

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Nick Sailor ’17 — A believer in caring and sharing

Taylor Gibson ’17: Latin American experiences deepen advocacy for immigrants

The Class of 2017, By the Numbers

Three Providence College students share top rank in Class of 2017

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Episode 7 – Brianna Abbott ’17

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Sean Moore ’17SCE: Army vet, father of four never stopped believing

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Nick Sailor ’17 — A believer in caring and sharing

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