Actress Viola Davis to receive honorary degree from URI

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Viola Davis, the Central Falls native who has achieved international stardom and accolades as an actress, will receive an honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Rhode Island during its commencement ceremony on May 18 at the Ryan Center.

Davis will be part of URI’s weekendlong festivities honoring more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students in multiple ceremonies within the home of the university’s basketball programs from May 17-19.

URI says Davis is one of only 19 individuals to have won an Emmy, a Grammy Award, an Oscar and a Tony Award for her acting career.

Davis, URI says, also founded JuVee Productions with her husband, Julius Tennon. The production company creates scripted and non-scripted television, film, documentary, theater and digital immersive content for global audiences. Davis also received an honorary degree from her alma mater, Rhode Island College.

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URI will also present best-selling author Deborah Goodrich Royce and Charles M. “Chuck’ Royce, chair and portfolio manager of Royce and Associates LLP, with honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters during the commencement proceedings.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.