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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Nixon to Retire as Sea Grant Director after 16 Years

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. -- January 28, 2000 -- On February 1, 2000, Professor Scott W. Nixon will retire as Director of the Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program. Nixon has served as Sea Grant director since 1986. During that time he has built the program from $2.5 million annually to its current $3.4 million level, making Rhode Island Sea Grant the fifth largest Sea Grant Program in the nation-not bad for the smallest state in the union.

When asked what he liked best about being Sea Grant Director, Nixon replied, "I enjoy being able to make things happen. A new faculty member comes in with an interesting new idea, and I can offer him or her some seed money to try it out."

"Scott has been an exceptional leader of the university's Sea Grant program during this time," said Margaret Leinen, past vice provost for marine programs at URI and dean of the Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO). "He has been extraordinarily successful in developing efforts that attracted competitive funds to the program and has developed a reputation for the Rhode Island program as a leader in competitive opportunities within Sea Grant."

Over the past 16 years, Rhode Island Sea Grant has made major accomplishments in maintaining the quality of the coastal environment and achieving sustainable seafood production. Under Nixon's leadership, the program supported, and continues to support, research and outreach activities that improve water quality and coastal ecosystem health, promote sustainable coastal development, and reduce the risk of coastal hazards.

The program also focuses on activities that support technological innovation in the commercial fisheries, improve fisheries management, advance aquacultural science, and assure seafood quality and safety. In November 1998, the Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program underwent a comprehensive NOAA-sponsored review. It was one of the only programs to receive an outstanding ranking in all categories of review, and left some in the National Sea Grant Office to call the Rhode Island program "the quintessential Sea Grant Program."

"Sea Grant was first translated from concept to reality some 30 years ago by John Knauss at the University of Rhode Island. Under the able direction of Scott Nixon, Rhode Island Sea Grant has turned that reality into a myriad of contributions to the well being of the citizens of Rhode Island and the Nation," said Ronald Baird, National Sea Grant College Program director. "We will miss Scott's able leadership and scientific knowledge that has served Sea Grant so well. It is my distinct pleasure on behalf of the National Sea Grant College Program to express our thanks and appreciation to Scott for his tireless efforts on behalf of Sea Grant."

"Scott Nixon has been the inspiration and determination behind the success of Rhode Island's marine community for nearly two decades," said Robert Carothers, URI president. "He has brought imagination along with science to the challenge of sustaining our most precious assets-the Bay and the many tributaries that feed into it. All of us in Rhode Island, and especially at the university, are grateful for his vision and leadership and thankful that he will continue as a valued member of our faculty."

"We will all miss having Scott at the helm of Sea Grant," said Leinen. "He leaves a legacy of outstanding science, social science, and humanities programs as well as broad outreach efforts that have left their mark on our state's management of marine resources, have developed wise public stewardship of marine resources, and have developed a broad appreciation for the role of Narragansett Bay and our coastal waters in the history, culture, and economy of Rhode Island."

Nixon will continue as an active member of the GSO faculty. He is looking forward to focussing his efforts on his internationally known research program and to academic pursuits in teaching and advising graduate students in oceanography.

A search for a new Sea Grant director has begun. Ames Colt, Sea Grant assistant director for programs, will serve as interim director. Sea Grant is a unique partnership with public and private sectors combining research, outreach, and education for public service. This national network meets changing environmental and economic needs of people in our coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes regions.


For More Information: Malia Schwartz, (401) 874-6936,


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