Dr. Winifred Brownell is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Rhode Island. Prior to her appointment as Dean in 1999, Dr. Brownell served for 3 years as Interim Dean of Arts and Sciences, 5 years as Associate Dean, and over 20 years as a professor of Communication Studies at URI. In 1977-78, she coordinated the College of Human Science and Services at URI, and in 1978-79, she served as an ACE Fellow in academic administration at the University of Utah. In 1979, she became the first URI scholar to visit the People’s Republic of China to begin dialogues with an interdisciplinary team of scholars on faculty and student exchanges with key universities.
A former resident of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and California, she received her Ph.D. in Communication from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Dean Brownell manages a College of 22 departments as well as several research centers, research-business partnerships, outreach programs, and performing and visual arts series. The College offers over 40 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and serves over 4,500 majors and over 15,000 students. The College jointly offers the International Engineering Programs with the College of Engineering as well as joint programs with Business, Education, Textiles, and Pharmacy.
In 1988, Dr. Brownell received the URI Foundation Teaching Excellence Award; in 1996, she received the Association of Academic and Professional Women Woman of the Year award; in 1999, she received the Lambda Pi Eta Richard E. Bailey Service Award for Excellence in the Art of Human Communication; in 2003, she received the Multicultural Center Administrative Excellence Award; and in 2006 received the Rhode Island International Film Festival Producer’s Circle Award.
Her publications include articles in Communication Monographs, Communication Quarterly, Personnel Journal, Communication Research Reports, The Encyclopedia of Aging, and The Gerontologist. Dr. Brownell has received over $3,850,000 in grant funding for creative, research and construction projects, and she has attracted over $30,000,000 in individual, corporate, and foundation awards, gifts, and pledges to URI. In 1974-75 she coordinated the URI Honors Colloquium on “Aging, Dying and Death.” In 1996, she co-coordinated the acclaimed John Hazen White Sr. Honors Colloquium on “Mortal Questions.”
Her research interests include new communication technologies, international communication, images of aging in the media, and aging and communication. In 2009, she helped to launch The Harrington School of Communication and Media at URI.