Tuesday, July 28, 2009
One of the great advantages of URI is that it is a close-knit, caring community in an environment where relationships and personal connections are important. I will always be grateful for the hospitality and generosity of Judge Frank Caprio and Joyce Caprio, Tom and Cathy Ryan, Ed Quinlan and Lisa Pelosi, Al and Gerri Verrecchia, and Victor and Gussie Baxt. I very much appreciate the willingness of our South County representatives Sam Azzinaro, David Caprio, Ken Carter, Rod Driver, Brian Kennedy, Donald Lally, Jr., and Mike Rice to take time out of their busy schedules to meet with me and begin a dialog about how we can work together to enhance URI and its contributions to the state’s vitality. Thanks also to Senator Bill Walaska, Judge Bob Flanders, Jr., and Christine Smith for their enthusiastic interest in working with URI to enhance research and technology transfer at URI.
Last Tuesday evening provided another window on what the University of Rhode Island means to the state. The opening of the Kingston Chamber Music Festival was truly a special, and for me very memorable, occasion. The sense of community so apparent among everyone there, the joy and pride of the volunteers who make this outstanding series possible, and the talent and enthusiasm of the performers was inspiring and uplifting. The creation of moments like that is an important part of the mission of URI. In a world that is simultaneously more integrated (at one level) and factionalized (on another) the arts have a unique capability to bring us together, to illuminate our common humanity, and to create a lasting sense of joy and wonder about the good we can accomplish. The evening began with a delightful dinner at the University Club on campus (a tremendous asset to URI). Thank you, Dean Winnie Brownell, Dick and Ann Beaupre, Jim Hopkins, Susan Hammen-Winn, Enrico Garzilli, Ron Lee and Marie Bender Lee for the warmth of your welcome to the life of the arts at URI. To Rob and Lynn Manning, Ginny Kenney, and many others I met – thank you for your enthusiastic support of the arts at URI.
Finally, I would like to share my admiration for one of URI’s defining attributes – its willingness to honestly and constructively engage the issues our country and our world face concerning diversity. Indeed, this was an important part of the university’s attraction for Lynn and me. Two events stand out from my first days at URI. First, was the celebration of the completion of the summer workshop on peace and non-violence. The commitment of the participants to make a difference, to do good works among us, will extend URI’s impact across the globe for the good of humanity. Second was my meeting with the Equity Council, volunteers all, committed to building a more inclusive, a more welcoming, and a more vibrant community at URI. I believe this is important to providing all our students the kind of education that will help them fulfill their dreams.
There is just something special about coming to work at a place that has the word “Hope” emblazoned on its seal – but more about that in a subsequent post.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
July 1, 2009 did not appear to me to be a significant date at the beginning of the year. Now it is certainly one of the most important days in my life. It is not truly equivalent to November 24, 1978 (marriage to Lynn), or to the days on which Christopher and Samantha were born -- but it must be in the top ten. I am very honored and excited to assume the position of President of the University of Rhode Island. Lynn and I are both deeply appreciative of the warm welcome we received during our visit in June and increasingly eager to join the URI community.
Although I will be assisting in the transition at Montana State University for a few more days, the leadership team at URI has already begun to work with me on our URI priorities. During the next few weeks we will be reviewing the planning and budget development processes (as well as the budget for FY 2011) and assessing the key opportunities and challenges for the University. In addition, the calendar is filling rapidly with events and meetings to help us get to know all of you, plus talking with you about your vision for URI, your aspirations, and expectations.
I will be on campus July 16-23 and then off to Japan to speak at two scientific meetings, engagements that were scheduled several months ago; these will be the first meetings where I will be representing URI. Afterward, I will return to Montana to join Lynn and our new Australian shepherd ("Rhody") for the drive to Kingston.
In the meantime you can reach me by calling the President's Office or by emailing email@example.com.