The 129th commencement at the University of Rhode Island will take place on May 16 and May 17, 2015. While this is an exciting and significant event for students and families, planning this ceremony requires an incredible amount of dedication and commitment.

“Believe it or not, from the day after our commencement ends [we are planning for next year’s ceremony],” said Michelle Curreri, current President’s Office chief of staff and commencement chairperson from 2001 to 2009.

Curreri and the commencement committee analyze previous ceremonies to see what went well and what could be improved upon, and they work hard to ensure a delightful and positive experience for graduating students and their families.

“This event, the commencement, is the biggest event of the year at the University of Rhode Island,” she said. “The goal of this event is for parents and families and friends to walk away with a very positive impression about the University of Rhode Island. So as a committee, we strive very hard every year to make it better. Everybody leaves with nothing but a smile on their faces. We want to make sure that you always feel good about coming back to URI.”

This year’s commencement will see improvements made based on recommendations from previous ceremonies. “We are actually accommodating disability services,” Curreri said. “We moved the location to within the quad.”

Planning a commencement ceremony requires the work from many levels at the university, and Curreri said that a few hundred people from across the university are involved in this year’s ceremony.

“There are people from all level, from custodial services, to land and ground, to marketing, to alumni,” she said, “To make sure that the walkways are plowed, parking lots are plowed, the flowers are blooming, the lawns are cut, etc.”

Although the planning process is enriching, challenges are still present at various times. Curerri encourages the team to maintain a positive attitude, “I often tell people that, ‘Smile, be calm, there is nothing that cannot be solved.’”

The hard work of the commencement committee has paid off. The ceremony at URI has become exemplary at a national level. Ms. Curerri has been invited to present at the North America Commencement Association. “Our school became a model school,” she said. “It’s been a fabulous experience.”

“I just feel strongly about the importance of making sure that everybody leaves here with a very good feeling about the University of Rhode Island, she added. “It’s a wonderful place. I’ve been here for over 23 years and I thoroughly enjoy it.”