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Scenes from the University of Rhode Island

University Leadership

The University of Rhode Island is the state's flagship institution of higher education, and its only public university. As such, we are uniquely positioned, ready and able to provide innovative ideas, adaptive intelligence and breakthrough research to enhance the lives of the people in our state, nation, and world.

At URI you'll discover a small, beautiful, student-centered learning environment with the resources, research capabilities, and opportunities of a much larger public institution. In other words, we may be a smaller university, but our thinking is big. At URI, you'll find some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs, innovators, and discoverers on our faculty, in our research enterprise, and in our student body.

Our students come from dozens of countries, and wherever you look, from Argentina to Zimbabwe, URI alumni are making a difference around the world. We are expanding international research and partnerships that will further prepare our graduates to contribute to an increasingly globalized economy and society.

And we are growing a community that embraces equity, diversity, and unity, in which students graduate with the capability to work across cultures, languages, lifestyles and traditions, because they have themselves been valued for both their individuality and the cultures they bring with them.

Administrative Officers


Dr. David M. Dooley became the 11th president of the University of Rhode Island in July 2009. Sixteen years as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Montana State University have well prepared this chemistry researcher to lead the University toward an elevated global presence as a preeminent research institution. He continues his work in the chemistry lab, is a regular wherever students are, and is transforming the future of the University.

Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dr. Donald H. DeHayes came to the University in December 2007 from the University of Vermont, where he raised more than $34 million in private funds as dean of The Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. That experience has transferred beautifully to URI, where he provides leadership, strategic financial management, planning, inspiration and innovation for the University's intellectual enterprise. One of Provost DeHayes' most important accomplishments at URI has been the development of a transformative Academic Plan, which sets strategic direction and critical goals towards superlative learning and discovery at URI.

Vice President for Research & Economic Development

Dr. Gerald Sonnenfeld joined the University of Rhode Island in October 2013. He was formerly the vice president of the Clemson University School of Health Research and chief science officer of the Greenville Health System, Clemson, S.C. Sonnenfeld leads the University's Division of Research and Economic Development, which includes serving as the chief research officer of the University, as a member of the President's leadership team, and chairing the Board of the URI Research Foundation.

Vice President for Administration and Finance

Christina Valentino serves at the University's chief financial and business officer for matters relating to successful operation of the institution. Prior to joining URI, she was the special assistant to the chancellor at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Valentino serves as the University's senior operating officer, overseeing the URI Controller^s Office, Human Resources, Budget and Financial Planning, Internal Audit, Transportation Center, Facilities Services, Property and Support Services, Campus Planning and Design, Capital Projects, Purchasing, Payroll, the W. Alton Jones Campus, the Ryan Center and Boss Arena, and the Public Safety and Risk Management functions.

Vice President for Student Affairs

Dr. Thomas R. Dougan was appointed vice president for student affairs in October 2001 following 17 years of leadership in student life at URI and extensive experience as a student affairs officer at the University of Florida and elsewhere. From housing and dining, to athletics and recreation, to such resources as counseling, career services, health services and the student clubs and activities, he keeps the "small, friendly, student-centered" part of who we are the forefront of our mission.

Associate Vice President for Community, Equity and Diversity

Naomi R. Thompson oversees the Office of Community, Equity and Diversity, serves as a member of the president's executive team, and leads efforts to integrate diversity, equity and community into the University's core mission, vision, and strategy. Her office includes the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, Multicultural Center, Women's Center, and the LGBTQ Center. Prior to joining the University in August 2012, Thompson was associate director of Northeastern's Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, where she has also served as the Title IX and Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator. Thompson earned her law degree from Suffolk University and her bachelor of arts in philosophy and religion from Colgate University. She was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in January 1992 and the U.S. District Court in 1993.