Wednesday, June 3, 2015


The University of Rhode Island’s 2015 Commencement was a tremendous success – the weather was perfect, the speakers inspiring, and joy and pride evident everywhere on campus.  All of us who participated in the ceremonies and celebrations benefitted from the dedicated and practically tireless efforts of the staff, faculty, and administrators who planned and executed all the events so wonderfully.
One of the many special moments of the weekend were the announcements and presentations of those members of the university who had received awards for excellence.  Students, faculty, staff and administrators were recognized for their significant and substantial contributions to the success of the University of Rhode Island and to the good of the URI community.  You can read about their amazing individual, and collaborative, contributions here: 
Whether it’s overseeing the enormous and critical facilities and grounds operations of the university, supporting one of URI’s largest departments, brilliantly teaching generations of students, or establishing oneself as an innovative, wide-ranging author/scholar, the URI Foundation’s Excellence Award winners have benefitted us all.  In addition, the research and intellectual property award winners selected by the URI Research Foundation span the breadth of the university’s scholarship, and all of them have significantly advanced our knowledge and understanding of the world.
These research and scholarship awards remind me, yet again, of the intelligence, creativity, and energy of our students.  I frequently read criticisms of students today that characterize them, inconsistently, as uninterested, unmotivated, or foolish on one hand, or altogether too focused on careers, jobs or money on the other.  These strike me as gratuitous over-generalizations, and I seldom encounter either kind of student at the University of Rhode Island. To the contrary, my overwhelming impression of students here is that they are motivated, hard working, engaged, and passionate about their studies and about making a difference. URI undergraduates are increasingly engaged in research and creative work alongside graduate students and faculty.  Whether in the humanities, social sciences, or science and engineering, our graduate and undergraduate students are producing research and scholarship at a high level.
At gatherings attended by the awardees, it was readily apparent that they were not only proud of their own work, but also of each other and the institution in which they worked. I think this both reflects the growing sense of community at the University of Rhode Island, and contributes to it. We are increasingly a community of scholars, striving for excellence in all areas of inquiry and creative work represented by our faculty and students. Check out the most recent issue of our publication Momentum: Research and Innovation online at, or pick up a copy at the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.  I think you’ll enjoy reading about all the truly excellent work underway at URI