Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Over the last week I have attended three separate groundbreaking ceremonies. Separately and collectively these events illustrate both key attributes of the University of Rhode Island and our progress towards achieving our goals.

The first event was the celebration of the beginning of the construction process for our new dormitory. This state-of-the-art facility will house 429 freshmen and sophomores. It will feature study spaces and informal gathering spaces, together with the residence rooms, and will create a terrific center for the integration of living and learning at URI. This facility is an important step in building community at our university – by providing more and better spaces for students to live and learn together. All of us look forward its opening in the fall of 2012.

On Monday I attended the groundbreaking ceremony for new research and office space at Alexion Pharmaceuticals in Smithfield. Alexion and URI are developing a strong partnership, to the benefit of our students and to Alexion’s success. Together we can help build the Rhode Island economy while providing a richer education for our students and the kind of staff that Alexion needs. It is a partnership worth celebrating and cultivating, and I was pleased to be there representing URI.

The third event was last Saturday, where students, faculty, and staff from the University of Rhode Island joined folks from South County and across the state to celebrate the start of the construction of four houses for Habitat for Humanity. This was a terrific event that exemplified our shared commitment to community, to assisting those in need, and to being a supportive neighbor.

It is simply inspiring to experience the excitement for this project and to see the depth and breadth of URI’s involvement in making these homes, this new part of our neighborhood, a reality to celebrate for years to come. A lot of URI students have been a part of making this happen: Karin Mellin, Kari Lukovics, Carissa Johnson, Scott Andrews, and Darthula Hansford are working with Habitat for Humanity (Scott is President of the URI chapter and Darthula is the liaison between South County Habitat for Humanity and the URI chapter). Many of our Greek organizations, the volleyball team, and other student groups have helped raise money for the house that our URI community will build.

Here is a picture from the Habitat ground breaking featuring several of the students and others from URI. I hope to see you at the site in the fall!