I am very proud of the activism of University of Rhode Island students, which is making a tremendous, positive impact on our community. Indeed, their impact extends far beyond the borders of Kingston. Here are a couple of amazing (to me, at least) examples.
As America moves further and further into what increasingly appears to be the “crazy season” of a presidential election, I find encouragement and hope in our community’s values and principles, as reflected in these statements. I am convinced that the primary goal of a public research university – the unfettered, honest, and courageous pursuit of knowledge – is more important than ever, at a time when ignorance and the obstinate denial of knowledge seem to be what are, all too often, celebrated and valued.
When we are confronted by the uncertainty and fragility of our lives, fear, resentment, and anger can emerge. Words are more readily misinterpreted, actions misconstrued, and mistrust becomes reflexive. The growing political and social divides in our nation can inflame our discontent and weaken the bonds that hold us together.
The following text is from a talk I gave at the Providence Business News Excellence Awards last night, where I was the keynote speaker. The talk appeared to be well received and some suggested that posting it here would be worthwhile, so here it is.
As important as science and engineering are to URI, the university has a much broader and equally important mission that encompasses the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts. The University of Rhode Island is concerned with educating our students to become the well-informed, thoughtful citizens they need to be amidst the substantial challenges of the 21st century.
At times, and all too frequently it seems to me, we are forced to part with members of our community far too early, and far too tragically. So it was again this summer, with the passing of Mario Rousseau – a truly remarkable young man who, through his leadership in BOND and in numerous other ways, had made a significant impact on the lives of many members of the URI community, and on the university as a whole. His life mattered. His life still matters.
I was the commencement speaker for Rocky Hill School in East Greenwich last week. Terrific students, all of whom will be attending college. It was suggested that I post the speech somewhere on the URI website, so here it is.
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.
May 6, 2015 will be a day long remembered and celebrated in the history of the University of Rhode Island. On that day a five-year journey involving advocacy, planning, and construction culminated in the grand opening of the Gender and Sexuality Center at URI. It was a day of hopes fulfilled, of faith realized, and hard work rewarded. It was a day of joy, of celebration, and of community. I believe that everyone who attended was inspired and convinced that the people of the University of Rhode Island, working together, can accomplish great things.