Feinstein College of Education and Professional Studies

80 Washington Street, Providence, RI 02903 – 401.277.5000

Our Professional, Dedicated and Diverse Faculty


Dean Budnick received his Ph.D. from Harvard University’s History of American Civilization program in 2000. He also holds a JD from Columbia Law School. His doctoral dissertation “Directed Verdict: The Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle Trial Discourse” focuses on a 1921 incident in which Arbuckle, then the highest-paid silent screen star, was charged with manslaughter and despite his acquittal was banned from film. This state of events was a product not only of prevailing attitudes towards Hollywood and a new culture of celebrity but also of tabloid journalism, the onset of Prohibition and the emerging, oft-contradictory roles of women. Budnick also is the director of Wetlands Preserved: The Story of an Activist Rock Club, a documentary film that opened nationally and later aired on the Sundance Channel. He is the author of four books, most recently, Ticket Masters: The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped, which explores computerized ticketing and live entertainment from the mid-1960s through the present (with some accounts of ticket scalping on Charles Dickens’ final American speaking tour as well).

Catherine DeCesare received her PhD in US History from Providence College in 2000. She received her M.A. in US History from Fordham University in 1987 and a B.A. in History from Providence College in 1985.  Her dissertation entitled, “Courting Justice: Rhode Island Women and the General Court of Trials, 1671- 1729” focuses upon women’s participation in civil litigation and criminal proceedings in colonial Rhode Island.  She has contributed a chapter on women and the legal culture of colonial Rhode Island in Patrick T. Conley, ed., Liberty and Justice: A History of Law and Lawyers in Rhode Island, 1636- 1998.  She enjoys teaching US History and especially US Women’s History.  In addition to women’s history, other areas of interest include colonial and revolutionary America, legal history and Rhode Island History. She also serves as history coordinator for the Providence Campus and is available to meet with students in room 253.

Burton Edwards received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Pennsylvania in 1990, specializing in Medieval European History. He has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University; Drexel University; Camden County College; Rhode Island College and the Rhode Island School of Design. His research focuses on Biblical commentaries written during the Carolingian Era.  He is an expert in the history of medieval handwriting; the history of the manuscript book and textual transmission.  His teaching interests include the entire span of Western Civilization; Early and Late Medieval History; The History of The Renaissance and the Reformation and the History of the Book from 300 A.D. to 1600. He also works full time at the John Carter Brown Library on the campus of Brown University.

Virginia Laffey received her PhD in U. S. History from Boston University in 2006. Her dissertation, “The Invisible Regiment: The Wives, Mothers and Girlfriends of American Soldiers in Vietnam,” is an oral history that examines the US “home front” during the Vietnam War through the experiences of the women who waited at home. She is a contributing essayist in Congregation and Community, Nancy Tatom Ammerman, principle author. She has participated in several oral history projects, as well as worked in the Providence Public School system as a writer/historian in residence. She teaches at the URI Feinstein Campus where she enjoys exploring topics in recent United States History with the students in her classes. In addition to teaching she volunteers her time at Greenlock Therapeutic Riding Stable as well as serving on the board of a local arts organization , Everett: Company, Stage, School.

Craig Marin earned his Ph.D. in 2007 from the University of Pittsburgh where he was trained as a historian of Early America and the Atlantic World. He is currently working on a book tentatively titled: “Coercion, Cooperation and Conflict Along Charleston’s Waterfront, 1739-1785: Navigating the Social Waters of an Atlantic Port City.” The book examines the complex interactions of black and white, and elite and non-elite actors along Charleston’s waterfront—a dynamic environment that was unique among Atlantic ports in its extreme reliance on slave labor, but typical in its connections to a wider Atlantic market system. Craig has recently contributed a chapter, “Accounting for ‘Wharfage, Porterage, and Pilferage’: Maritime Slaves and Resistance in Charleston, South Carolina,” to Ana Lucia Araujo’s anthology, Paths of the Atlantic Slave Trade: Interactions, Identities, and Images. He has also contributed to The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest: 1500 to the Present, edited by Immanuel Ness, as well as The Encyclopedia of African American History, edited by Joe Trotter. Craig teaches courses covering Early and Nineteenth-Century America, the African American experience, the Atlantic world, and American Maritime history.

Alison Rose received her Ph. D. in Jewish History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1998.  She has an M.A. in History from the University of Washington in Seattle and a B.A. in History from Reed College in Portland, Oregon.  Her research focuses on the images and participation of Viennese Jewish women in turn of the century Viennese culture.   She has published several articles in this area and is currently working on a book on Jewish women in Fin de Siècle Vienna.  She enjoys teaching modern European history courses at URI, including Western Civilization Since 1789, the History of the Holocaust, as well as the capstone in European history.

Robert Widell grew up in Alabama before attending Duke University in North Carolina.  Since that time he has lived for various periods in Atlanta, Birmingham, New Orleans, Boulder, Colorado, and, now, Providence. His interests outside of history include film, running, cooking, and Duke basketball. His current research focuses on black activism in Birmingham, Alabama during the late 1960s and early 1970s.  Based on that research, his current project explores a variety of efforts by that city’s African American community to address such long-standing issues as police brutality, job discrimination, poverty, and health care.  In so doing, the work encourages historians to take an expanded view of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, taking into account locally-based activism that continued into the mid-1970s. At URI, he teaches both United States and African American History, including HIS 150, HIS 340, and HIS 341.

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