Rhode Island School of Design to Celebrate 2024 Commencement on June 1

May 24, 2024

MacArthur Fellow Nicholas W. Benson and curator Marva Griffin Wilshire will receive honorary degrees; Dorothy W. Ford will be awarded the President’s Medal of Honor

PROVIDENCE, RI – April 25, 2024 – On Saturday, June 1, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) will award degrees to 522 undergraduate and 253 graduate students at its 141st Commencement ceremony. Commencement 2024 will take place at 9 am ET at the Amica Mutual Pavilion in downtown Providence followed by a community reception in Market Square to toast the Class of 2024. For more information on RISD’s 2024 Commencement and to view the ceremony streaming live on June 1, visit risd.edu/commencement.  

Engraver Nicholas W. Benson and curator and SaloneSatellite founder Marva Griffin Wilshire will receive honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees. In addition, Dorothy W. Ford will be awarded the President’s Medal of Honor.

Reunion Weekend will be held May 30–June 2 in conjunction with Commencement Weekend. Reunion activities celebrate all things RISD while bringing the alumni community together and welcoming its newest members, the Class of 2024. Public events include the RISD Craft art sale and WaterFire lighting on June 1. Details are available at alumni.risd.edu/reunions.

Nicholas W. Benson | honorary degree recipient

Nicholas W. Benson is owner of the John Stevens Shop in Newport, RI, which was founded in 1705 and specializes in the design and carving of lettering in stone. He studied calligraphy and letterform design at the School of Design in Basel, Switzerland before taking over ownership and management of the shop in 1993. He has designed and carved inscriptions on many civic memorials, including the National World War II Memorial, the National Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the National Eisenhower Memorial. He has also designed and carved inscriptions for many notable universities, including Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Brown and Dartmouth, as well as private commissions for prominent institutions and families. The grandson of late RISD professor John Howard Benson (designer of RISD’s seal), he received the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship in 2007 and was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2010. He lives in Jamestown, RI with his wife Alix and their children, Hope and Henry.

Marva Griffin Wilshire | honorary degree recipient
Marva Griffin Wilshire was born in Venezuela and adopted Milan as her home city when she began working in the design and furniture world. Since 1990 she has served as international press director at Salone del Mobile Milano, where she currently serves as ambassador of international relations. In 1998 she founded SaloneSatellite, which in May 2014 received the Compasso d’Oro XXIII Lifetime Achievement Award. She also earned the Ambrogino d’Oro Award for Civic Merit in 2017 and, in 2021, an Honorary Master’s Degree in Product Service System Design from Politecnico di Milano. Since 2001, she has been a member of the Philip Johnson Architecture & Design Committee of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. In 2016, she became ambassador for Italian Design Day, presenting talks in Seoul, Montréal, Miami, Madrid, Buenos Aires, Guatemala City, New Delhi/Mumbai and Johannesburg/Cape Town.

Dorothy W. Ford | President’s Medal of Honor recipient
Dorothy W. Ford served as the coordinator of RISD’s Minority Affairs/Third World Office from 1973–2000. She advocated for students of color and principles of social equity and inclusion long before such ideas were adopted nationwide. Her commitment impacted the lives of generations of RISD students, particularly students of color, allowing them to thrive during and after their years at RISD. Her work built the foundation for RISD’s current Social Equity and Inclusion plan and other initiatives launched to support marginalized students, such as Project Thrive and the RISD First-Generation to College Pre-Orientation Program.

A series of exhibitions leading up to Commencement will highlight new work produced by graduating students. Showcasing the work of grad students across 19 disciplines, Grad Show 2024 will be on view at the Rhode Island Convention Center from May 23–June 1.

The work of seniors receiving undergraduate degrees will be featured by department throughout the spring semester in weekly shows at Woods-Gerry Gallery. Installation and work images are viewable online.

About Rhode Island School of Design
RISD (pronounced “RIZ-dee”) is a creative community founded in 1877 in Providence, Rhode Island. Today, we enroll 2,538 students hailing from 60 countries. Led by a committed faculty, they are engaged in 44 full-time bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and supported by a worldwide network of over 31,000 alumni who demonstrate the vital role artists and designers play in today’s society.

Beyond facts and figures, what is the spirit of this community? Through a cross-disciplinary curriculum of studio-based learning and rigorous study in the liberal arts, RISD students are encouraged to develop their own personal creative processes, but they are united by one guiding principle: in order to create, one must question. In cultivating expansive and elastic thinking, RISD seeks to activate a critical exchange that empowers artists, designers and scholars to generate and challenge the ideas that shape our world. RISD’s mission, at both the college and museum, is not only to educate students and the public in the creation and appreciation of works of art and design, but to transmit that knowledge and make global contributions. Visit risd.edu to learn more.

RISD contact:
Jaime Marland
Senior Director, Public Relations / RISD
401 427-6954