President’s View: Welcome class of 2018!

prezViewjpgThis fall marks the sixth time Lynn and I have welcomed a new class to URI. As members of the class of 2018 (!) gathered on campus for their orientation, we were just as excited as we were in August 2009, when we greeted members of the class of 2013.

The cycles of university life are predictable in some ways, but surprisingly variable in others. With each new class, new hope arrives on campus. And in Rhode Island, where “Hope” is the state’s motto, we take that seriously.

At URI we have reason for great hope and optimism this fall, in particular. Just speak with Dean of Engineering Ray Wright (and read the article in this issue of QuadAngles) about the $125-million bond that will change not only the physical configuration of the College of Engineering, but also the way engineering is taught. Or travel to the site of the proposed new nursing education center in Providence’s knowledge district, where you can sense hope bursting from the promise of restoring a long-abandoned vacant building that will be transformed into a regional hub for 21st-century nursing education.

All of us at URI are grateful for the support of the Rhode Island General Assembly, the Governor, the Board of Education, the State Properties Committee, and the Providence City Council, without which these two game-changing projects would not be possible. We value our strengthened partnerships with Brown University and Rhode Island College, both of which will share space in the renovated former South Street Power Station, in the heart of what is becoming a medical education corridor in our capital city.

We are also very appreciative of, and encouraged by, the overwhelmingly positive response and support of the local business community for the engineering bond.

At the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce annual Garage event last spring, Textron CEO Scott Donnelly specifically cited the bond as critical to Rhode Island’s investment in technology, products and people. Engineering professionals support key sectors of the state’s economy such as defense, cybersecurity, clean energy, manufacturing, marine technologies, biotechnology, and biomedical engineering.

As the state’s flagship public research university, URI has focused significant resources on Rhode Island’s economic development. Recognizing that a successful Rhode Island translates into a successful URI, we have stayed on a strategic course to help boost the state’s economy, create jobs, and build bridges between academia, industry, and the growing entrepreneurial sector. An economic impact study commissioned by the URI Foundation reinforced our belief that a new College of Engineering will provide exponential returns to the state’s economy.

Dean Wright says he is “running on all cylinders” to see the engineering project through to its completion, and his commitment is inspiring the entire URI community. We hope it will also inspire those of you who live in Rhode Island when you go to the polls on November 4. We urge you to vote yes on Question 4 to give our state a real competitive edge in an area that has the potential to foster an economic renaissance for Rhode Island.

Wishing you a wonderful fall season,


David M. Dooley