I would like to personally thank the people of Rhode Island – those who supported and endorsed Question 2 on November 2, and all those who voted for it. We understand very well the difficult and challenging financial climate for the state and for all of us who live here. One thing is clear: we can succeed in creating a new, vibrant, and sustainable economy for Rhode Island only if we work together. The broad coalition of those who worked on behalf of the new building for the Chemical and Forensic Sciences at URI is a great example of how Rhode Islanders can work together. Business and labor organizations, law enforcement groups, faculty, students, staff, alumni, and many others across the state came together to promote a “yes” vote on Question 2. The University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and higher education officials collaborated very effectively to make the case for investment in a new chemistry building for URI and the renovation of a building for the arts at RIC.
But more importantly, the people of Rhode Island understood the importance of investing in the critical infrastructure required to be competitive in the 21st century. Education in the central disciplines of science and technology, and advanced, innovative research in the chemical sciences is essential to create the knowledge-based economy that is important now and into the foreseeable future. The University of Rhode Island is fully committed to capitalizing on this investment by the people of the state in order to expand the scope and impact of both basic and applied research and development to the benefit of the state.
One aspect of these new facilities warrants particular mention. Providing more opportunities for undergraduate students to become engaged in research, scholarship, and creative work is one of URI’s highest priorities. I am convinced that the learning environment and outcomes provided by student participation in research and creative work is essential to the success and competitiveness of our students in the 21st century. The laboratories and facilities in the new Center for the Chemical and Forensic Sciences will provide outstanding opportunities for students in this regard. Our Chemistry Department has a strong and consistent record of engaging undergraduates in research, and this new building will enable the Department to significantly expand and improve the students’ research experience.