A Warm Big Chill

Lynn and I, along with our daughter Samantha and her guest Stephen, have enjoyed our first Big Chill weekend. It was an extraordinarily attractive series of events. The venues—including the Coast Guard House, Trio, Rosecliff, and the Hyatt Newport—were outstanding. The food and drinks were superb, and the enthusiasm of the staff and volunteers was infectious. John and Gail Palumbo, Jerry Kritz, Mark Davis, the Big Chill Committee, and the Student Alumni Association did a splendid job in every respect. On behalf of the students of URI, who benefit enormously from the scholarships generated by this event, we thank all who participated.

When I think about all the things that make the Big Chill weekend special, my thoughts keep returning to the people. Our alumni—those who volunteer so many hours to make the event successful, and all those who attend and give —are an invaluable resource for the University of Rhode Island. When we look at what makes our alumni so invaluable, we can see many factors. And, in my judgment, one of the most important is their diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. That diversity represents a source of strength for the University.

Creating a community that is diverse, welcoming, and supportive of its members has long been a core value of URI. It is clear that our alumni reflect the University’s long-standing commitment to building an equitable and inclusive community. Your continued engagement, whether through financial support, service on advisory boards, mentoring students, helping to recruit future students, or in a variety of other capacities, sustains all aspects of our mission. Our efforts to build a diverse community and to provide the highest quality education to undergraduate and graduate students, especially benefit from your support.

Many valid rationales have been offered for the value of diversity in American higher education. I do not need to reiterate them here. Let me just point out that both diversity and global education are built into URI’s new academic plan—and for good reason. In the global economy and society of the 21st century, those individuals and those institutions that can readily work across boundaries, that understand and respect the wealth of human perspectives and values, and that can communicate effectively with people of different cultures and experiences, will succeed far beyond those trapped in the patterns and prejudices of the past.

In the months ahead, I will be pursuing ways for us to expand the global experiences we offer students while also pursuing ways to integrate more culturally diverse experiences into our educational offerings. The University of Rhode Island wants its students to fulfill their highest hopes and aspirations, regardless of their identity or background. That is why URI must create a community that is rich in diversity but united around our shared purposes of learning, of discovery, of creating, and of reaching out to make a difference for good.

—David M. Dooley