Despite the relative quiet of the day and the break between semesters, there is a lot going on at the University of Rhode Island. The university’s leadership team is working systematically with the new and continuing leadership of the state to prepare for the challenges and opportunities of the year ahead.
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This is a joyous time of year for many of us, spending time with our families and friends, and looking forward to the year ahead. But it is important to recognize that this is not true for everyone. For too many among us, the Christmas season is lonely and painful, and the anticipation of a new year does not bring renewed hope but a heightened sense of loss. I am mindful of the many sympathy cards that we have sent to members of the URI community and to others in Rhode Island this year.
I am writing this in China – a country that is impossible to visit without appreciating the value and power of multilingual capability and multicultural understanding. One of the keynote speakers at this year’s annual meeting for Confucius Institutes, Dr. Tu Weiming of the Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies at Beijing University, Research Professor at Harvard University, and a former Professor at Berkeley, emphasized that as our world becomes more complex the ability to understand and accommodate diversity becomes more, not less, important. I agree.
We should not forget those of our friends and neighbors who are facing very real and difficult challenges at this time. These folks need all that we can do to provide assistance now and to create a stronger economy, a more mutually supportive community, and a better society. Let’s keep our eye on those goals.
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.
On Friday afternoon, the University of Rhode Island dedicated the Agnes Doody Auditorium in Swan Hall. The ceremonies were capped by an inspiring “first lecture” by Dr. Doody herself, which kept everyone’s rapt attention while sharing the incredible rewards of teaching at URI, as well as illustrating once again the amazing impact and enduring influence of Dr. Doody. Few people have the pioneering spirit, the drive, the devotion to excellence, and the unfailing commitment to helping others that so epitomizes Dr. Doody’s career.
A lot of things happen to us, as individuals, as a community, and as an institution. Let’s not let those things define us. We can facilitate or create many great things for our community, our state, and our nation. Let’s resolve to have those things define who we are and what the University of Rhode Island stands for.
Over the summer, in just about three months, state-of-the-art instructional technology was installed in fifty-two (52!) classrooms that previously had no modern teaching technology at all. Every one of these classrooms received the latest digital media technology, including HD projectors, blu-ray players, and digital switching controls. Assisted-listening devices were installed in classrooms for 50 or more students.
One of the emerging priorities for the University of Rhode Island is building a strong, vibrant, and supportive community that views diversity as a strength and where equity is a core value. This is reflected many places, including the Academic Plan, in URI’s “Cornerstones”, and in my inaugural remarks. Two events occurred this summer that reinforced my conviction that building a community where all our members are valued and supported is critical to the future of the University.
One of the great treasures at the University of Rhode Island, as well as for the state and the nation, is the Graduate School of Oceanography. Not surprisingly, the GSO had a very busy and productive summer. I would like to highlight a couple of its activities.