Wednesday, November 12, 2014

One hundred twenty-five million thanks!

To the overwhelming majority of voters who said yes on 4, the University of Rhode Island says thank you! We are so grateful to the 63.4 percent of Rhode Islanders in 38 cities and towns who approved the $125 million bond for a new College of Engineering.

You have made it possible for us to build a state-of-the-art facility that will transform buildings, classrooms, and laboratories that have not been changed in 50 years. Engineering is a field that generates significant revenue and jobs for the state of Rhode Island – today, the College of Engineering produces $142 million in economic activity for the state. That number will increase thanks to your support.

Throughout the bond campaign, we were gratified to receive the endorsement of major newspapers, chambers of commerce, and professional organizations, as well as Rhode Island’s top engineering businesses, which rely heavily on graduates of URI’s engineering programs to fill highly skilled positions. In fact, more than 4,000 URI engineering graduates work for 750 Rhode Island companies. We are proud of our partnerships with the state’s corporate community, and we are confident that the new engineering complex will only strengthen these important collaborations.

You have given your flagship research institution a tremendous gift in approving this bond. And we do not take your trust in us lightly. We pledge to do our part in revitalizing Rhode Island’s economy. And while it is true that the new College of Engineering will sit on our Kingston campus, it belongs to all of Rhode Island.

Thank you for believing in the power of thinking big. Together we will celebrate a brighter future for Rhode Island as we enter a new era in engineering at URI.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Show Up

It is a truism that “the world is run by those who show up”. At the University of Rhode Island this is not a cliché or a platitude. Currently, shared governance is vibrant and strong at URI, but it can be even better, and we are working to achieve that outcome. The participation of our faculty, staff, and students in setting the priorities and defining the future of the university is critical. So is the input from our alumni and partners. I ask, and hope, that all members of our community will seek out ways, and take advantage of opportunities, to be engaged in setting our course. 
 “Showing up” is essential to democracy. Our votes do matter. It may well be that the decisions and direction of our state and nation would be different had voter turnout in recent primaries and general elections been other than they were. I think that America will be its best when all Americans who are eligible vote. The same is true for Rhode Island. These are unrealistic goals, but certainly we should aim to come as close to achieving them as we can. I believe that our state and our county will make its best choices and decisions when those choices and decisions closely reflect the collective judgment of all Rhode Islanders and all Americans – in all of our diversity. So let’s vote on Tuesday. 
A lot is at stake, in Rhode Island and nationally. A lot is at stake for the University of Rhode Island. An affirmative vote on Question 4, to build new facilities for the College of Engineering at URI, is especially important. The need for new facilities in engineering is critical. The opportunities that will be provided as a result of these new facilities will be truly remarkable – and will benefit the entire campus and every member of our community. Indeed, these facilities will benefit all Rhode Islanders because the invigorated and expanded research and educational activities that result will be a timely and continuing stimulus for economic growth and prosperity in our state. Together, we can create a better future by approving Question 4.