Dr. Robert Ballard

Dr. Ballard is Director of Center for Ocean Exploration at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography, President of the Ocean Exploration Trust, and Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society.

Among the most accomplished of the world’s deep-sea explorers, Dr. Ballard is best known for his historic discovery of the RMS TITANIC as well as the German battleship BISMARCK, sunk in World War II, and the passenger liner LUSITANIA, sunk by a German torpedo during World War I. During his long career, he has conducted more than 150 deep-sea expeditions using the latest in exploration technology, and he is a pioneer in the early use of deep-diving submarines. He is the author of the bestselling books on his discovery on the TITANIC and the BISMARCK, and the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Explorer’s Club’s Explorer’s Medal, the National Geographic Society’s Hubbard Medal, the Lindbergh Award, and the National Humanities Medal. In 2003 President W. Bush presented him with the National Endowment for the Humanities Medal in the Oval Office of the White House.

In 2008, Dr. Ballard secured the E/V Nautilus, one of two of America’s ships of exploration funded by NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Nautilus is connected by way of a high bandwidth satellite link to the University of Rhode Island’s Inner Space Center, making it possible for scientists to participate in real-time exploration and support a variety of educational outreach.

The Honorable Bruce Selya

Born and bred in Providence and educated across the border at Harvard University, Bruce M. Selya was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to become United States District Judge for the District of Rhode Island in 1982.

Selya became the first person of the Jewish faith to ascend to the federal bench in Rhode Island. Four years later, Selya was nominated by President Reagan to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. His judicial activities have included service as Presiding Judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review and as a member of the seven-judge nationals Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.

After over 1,250 published opinions for the court, Judge Selya took senior status on December 31, 2006, but continues to hear cases regularly in the First Circuit as well as on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review.

Throughout his career, Judge Selya has been committed to his Rhode Island community. He has had a longstanding relationship with Rhode Island Hospital and was the founding chairman of the Lifespan healthcare system. When Selya stepped down as board chairman, Lifespan created the Bruce M. Selya Research Institute to honor Selya’s devotion to excellence in healthcare. Judge Selya also was a leader in the transformation of Bryant College to Bryant University.

Jim Taricani

Jim Taricani spent 32 years covering Rhode Island news as an award-winning investigative reporter from WJAR-TV, NBC 10.

Taricani covered the New England mafia for more than 25 years and specializes in government corruption in his investigative work. In 2004, Taricani was sentenced by a federal judge to six months home confinement for refusing to disclose a confidential source. After completing his sentence, he was nationally recognized as an advocate for the passage of a federal shield law for journalists.

Taricani won numerous Emmy awards, along with an Edward R. Murrow award for investigative journalism. He also received the prestigious Yankee Quill Award from the New England Newspaper Association in 2007. This award is rarely given to a broadcast reporter. He also received the Freedom of the Press Award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association, and a Freedom of Press Award from the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press. National appearances included NBC’s Nightly News, Today, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Court T.V., CNN, and CNBC.

Taricani passed away in 2019 at the age of 69.