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Print Editions Saturday September 30th, 2023

Commerce Sec. Gina Raimondo among six honorary degree candidates for Commencement 2023

Brown to confer four Doctorates of Humane Letters, two Doctorates of Laws

<p>Gina Raimondo is currently serving as U.S. Secretary of Commerce, a role which she took on after being the first woman governor of Rhode Island.</p><p>Courtesy of Brown University</p>

Gina Raimondo is currently serving as U.S. Secretary of Commerce, a role which she took on after being the first woman governor of Rhode Island.

Courtesy of Brown University

Six distinguished leaders and scholars are slated to receive honorary doctorates during Commencement this year: Douglas W. Diamond ’75, Elaine G. Luria, Bernicestine Elizabeth McLeod Bailey ’68 P’99 P’03, Kevin Mundt ’76 P’11, Ruth Oppenheim and Gina Raimondo.

Honorary doctorates will be conferred May 28 at the University Ceremony by President Christina Paxson P’19 P’MD’20 on behalf of the Brown Corporation’s Board of Fellows, according to a University press release. While awardees attend the ceremony, they do not give speeches — the University typically reserves that responsibility for members of the graduating class.

Raimondo, the 40th U.S. Secretary of Commerce, was the first woman to serve as governor of Rhode Island. After growing up in Smithfield and attending Harvard, Oxford University and Yale, Raimondo’s early career involved work in venture capital, founding Point Judith Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm, in 2001. Raimondo was elected general treasurer of Rhode Island in 2010 and governor in 2015. 

During her time in office, Raimondo focused on creating economic opportunities for Rhode Islanders, the press release said. She was appointed by President Joe Biden to serve as secretary of commerce starting March 3, 2021 and is focused on improving job prospects and pay, empowering entrepreneurs and supporting American workers and businesses in the global economy. 


Currently a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Diamond won the 2022 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. His scholarship on banks and financial crises paved the way for modern financial oversight and expanded public understanding of how liquidity impacts banks and customers, according to the press release. Diamond was president of the Western Finance Association from 2001 to 2002, president of the American Finance Association in 2003 and previously an instructor at both Yale and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management. He is a Doctorate of Humane Letters candidate.

Luria served as U.S. representative for Virginia’s second district from 2019 to 2023 and is an accomplished U.S. Navy veteran. Serving in the Navy for two decades, Luria was a nuclear-trained surface warfare officer on six ships with six deployments to the Middle East and Western Pacific. She retired at the rank of commander in 2017. In Congress, Luria served as vice chair of the House Armed Services Committee, was a member of the House’s committees on homeland security and veterans’ affairs and served on the House Select Committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. She has advocated for improvements to veteran health — including by championing the 2022 PACT Act, which sought to expand healthcare for veterans exposed to toxic substances — and helped pass bipartisan legislation for advanced nuclear technology. Luria is a Doctorate of Laws candidate.

From her work in information technology to her leadership at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women, McLeod Bailey’s legacy is wide-ranging. After working as an IBM systems engineer, she established McLeod Associates, a minority-owned consulting firm. McLeod Bailey is board chair of the Mary and Eliza Freeman Center for History and Community and a longtime advocate for diversity and inclusion. She is a founding member of Westport, Connecticut’s diversity committee and founding chair of the Pembroke Center Advisory Council’s Archives Committee, which focuses on highlighting gender history. McLeod Bailey is a former Brown trustee, honorary lifetime member of the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity and recipient of the Brown Bear Award, the highest volunteer honor of the Brown Alumni Association. McLeod Bailey is a Doctorate of Humane Letters candidate. 

Beyond his experience as managing director at Vestar Capital Partners and his work overseeing consumer product and distribution-based business investments, Mundt has served on more than 25 corporate boards and was a Brown trustee from 2011 to 2017. In his time at Brown as an undergraduate, Mundt played on the football team and served as captain of the track team, earning All-Ivy and All-East honors and later winning the Ivy Football Association Alumni Award in 2023. His leadership in athletics later brought him to roles as director of the Brown University Sports Foundation and chairman of the President’s Advisory Council on Athletics. Mundt also supports academic and medical philanthropy in the Greater Boston area, according to the press release, and has been involved with boards and councils for Mass General Brigham and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Mundt is a Doctorate of Humane Letters candidate.

A survivor of the Holocaust, Oppenheim is an author, activist and strong supporter of Holocaust education. Her family escaped Nazi Germany in 1940 and settled in New York, where she learned English and became valedictorian of her junior high and high school classes. Oppenheim served as office manager for the University’s English department from 1973 to 1988 and for the Dean of the College office from 1988 to 1994. She has written numerous articles on Holocaust education and published “Beyond Survival,” a memoir, in 2016. She has also interviewed survivors for the Institute for Visual History and Education, was the keynote speaker at the U.S. Naval War College’s inaugural Genocide Studies Conference in 2018 and lectures for the Sandra Bornstein Holocaust Education Center in Providence. Oppenheim is a Doctorate of Humane Letters candidate.


Rhea Rasquinha

Rhea Rasquinha is a Metro section editor covering the College Hill, Fox Point & the Jewelry District and Brown & Beyond beats. She also serves as an illustrator. She is a sophomore from New York studying Biomedical Engineering and loves dark chocolate and penguins. 

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