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By Lisa Pelosi A warm breeze stirred the robes of the doctoral Class of 2009 of Johnson & Wales University’s School of Education as it proceeded into Beneficent Congregational Church to the music of Giordani’s “Caro Mio Ben.” The serenity and brevity of the 23-minute hooding ceremony provided a welcome finale to the thousands of hours logged by the graduates over the years, in the classroom, the library and hunched over a computer, in pursuit of their doctorate in educational leadership.For the past 10 years, Domenic Vavala, Ph.D., ’03 Hon., president of Constantinian University, has presided over this special occasion, regaling all with the history of the hooding ceremony and the significance of the doctoral gown and soft caps. This year, his role was filled by recently retired vice president of academic affairs and founder of the JWU doctoral program, Clifton Boyle, Ed.D., commanding the pulpit in full academic regalia.
“With Open Arms and Grateful Hearts” embroidered on a banner over his shoulder, Boyle announced the graduates one by one, the title of each one’s dissertation, and name of their advisor, as School of Education Dean Denise DeMagistris ’03 Ed.D., carefully placed the doctoral hood on each graduate.“You are now among the elite leaders in the field of education,” proclaimed Boyle, whose own distinguished career in education spanned more than 45 years.Included in the class was JWU’s own dean of culinary academics, Paul McVety ’79, ’09 Ed.D. With a passion to prepare trained chefs to become better communicators in the classroom, McVety’s future goals include developing national standards for high school culinary arts programs.The celebration of achievement continued into the evening as graduates, guests, families and friends arrived at the Providence Performing Arts Center for the 23rd Commencement of the Alan Shawn Feinstein Graduate School and School of Education. With “Jesus Christ Superstar” and other show tunes blaring from the outdoor PPAC speakers and “Johnson & Wales Graduate School Commencement 2009” in lights on the marquee, the excitement on the sidewalk was similar to that of theater patrons about to see a Tony award-winning play.For the second time that day, McVety and his classmates marched in procession. This time, the 393 doctoral and graduate degree candidates were surrounded by the rousing, majestic orchestral piece, “Olympic Spirit,” as they filed into the seats of the theater. Recently inducted University Provost Veera Gaul, Ph.D., ’91 M.S. had the honor of bearing the JWU mace symbolizing the ideals and values of the school’s educational philosophy. As she joined distinguished members of the university administration and guests on stage, commencement began with the parade of international flags, representing the flavor and diversity of the graduating class and eliciting cheers from the audience.JWU’s global reach — 1,300 students from 96 countries — was reflected as well in the lilting voice of student speaker, Ekaterina Bakueva ’09, of Stavropol, Russia. “I give much thanks to the leadership, faculty and staff of the university for creating this diverse campus. I am sure I can speak for the majority of us when I say that prior to studying at Johnson & Wales University, I only had friends in a handful of countries, but now I have friends from more countries than I can count on all of my fingers and toes!”Bringing local flavor to the ceremonies was honorary degree recipient and keynote speaker, Peter McWalters ’09 Hon., Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Education. “You can’t be a Rhode Islander without engaging with, recognizing, and celebrating the learning and achievement of JWU students and graduates,” he said, advising them to respond to the opportunities and challenges of the times and “create your own future.”Throughout the daylong commencement activities, many of the speakers acknowledged the encouragement of family and friends who supported the graduates through their studies, but Bakueva touched the hearts of all when she concluded in Russian, “Spasibo, Mom.” Thank you.
Alan Shawn Feinstein Graduate School 23rd Graduate Commencement, Providence Performing Arts CenterTotal Degrees Awarded 393Doctor of Education in:Educational Leadership 24Master of Arts in Teaching 47Master of Business Administration 313Master of Education 9Honorary Degree RecipientsDoctor of Education (Commencement Speaker)Peter McWalters, commissioner, Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Providence, R.I.Doctor of Business Administration in Hospitality ManagementRoger J. Dow, president and chief executive officer, U.S. Travel Association, Washington, D.C.