Award winning-professor, devoted volunteer named dean of
URIs College of Human Science and Services
KINGSTON, R.I. -- June 6, 2002 -- For most people, being named "Professor of the Year" by the University of Rhode Island Honors Program and then being elected president of AIDS Care Ocean State would mark a pretty good week.
But the crowning touch during that stretch came when URI Provost M. Beverly Swan named URI Professor of Education W. Lynn McKinney the new dean of URIs College of Human Science and Services after a national search.
"By the morning that Beverly informed me of my selection as dean, I was a little overwhelmed," said the 60-year-old Narragansett resident who has served the University as a teacher or administrator for 30 years.
McKinney, who has served as interim dean of the College since January, will take his new permanent post on June 30 just as the College begins a yearlong 25th anniversary celebration.
Swan praised McKinney for being "an effective visionary, leader, manager and advocate for the people and programs in the College and the University."
With 1,874 students and 55 faculty members, Human Science and Services is the second-largest college at URI. It offers majors in communicative disorders, dental hygiene, education, human development and family studies, human sciences and services, physical education, textile marketing, and textiles, fashion merchandising and design. Its also home to graduate programs in physical therapy, exercise science, education, audiology, college student personnel, human development and family studies, speech-language pathology and audiology, textiles, and marriage and family therapy. The college sponsors a cardiopulmonary laboratory, the Child Development Center, Family Therapy Clinic, Historic Textile and Costume Collection, Physical Therapy Clinic and Speech and Hearing Clinic.
McKinney, who graduated with a bachelors degree in history from Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa and then taught sixth and seventh grades in Illinois and Colorado, has always viewed himself a teacher and an advocate.
A man with a ready smile and an easygoing manner, he earned his masters in education from the University of Denver in 1968, joined the URI education faculty in 1972 and then earned his doctorate in education from the University of Chicago in 1973. He also holds a Certificate in Public Administration from Indiana University.
While acknowledging he will miss the rigors of teaching a full schedule of classes, McKinney plans to continue teaching URI 101, the freshman seminar class that teaches the basics of URI and helps instill an appreciation for community service.
Each year, his URI 101 class plans, prepares, serves and eats a home cooked meal for and with the residents of the Welcome House in Peace Dale. The students purchase the groceries on their own and cook the food at McKinneys home.
He sees such activity as an opportunity to teach students about the needs of the homeless in a way that connects them to real people with real hopes and dreams.
He views his deanship in much the same way, but also worries about budget constraints.
"On the one hand, I am very excited," he said. "I have great colleagues. Theyre imaginative, energetic, and interested in working together on problems and issues. At the same time, these are tough days for the University. Like every other college, we need more faculty than we have. The demands for our programs are enormous."
McKinney is former interim executive director of Rhode Island Project AIDS, former volunteer member of Seniors Helping Others and the Rhode Island Furniture Bank. He was the first man named to the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Because of that service and many other commitments, McKinney is keenly aware of the need for higher education and particularly his College to address the needs of children and their families, especially those on the margins of society.
McKinney wants a much clearer vision for the URI Children, Families and Communities Focus Area, one of four broad fields of study identified by URI President Robert L. Carothers in which URI already excels and in which it can achieve even greater distinction.
He also plans a greater emphasis on private giving to the College.
"We provide great outreach, and community service programs at no or minimal cost to the state and its communities, but need grant support to continue that kind of work, as well as our research," he said.
McKinney is directing a planning process for the College over the next seven months and he expects the bulk of the ideas to come from the management team and the faculty.
When asked why its important to focus attention on the College and its role, McKinney said, "There is an extraordinary array of human need that we confront in this society. As the income and wealth gaps between the richest and poorest continue to grow, we are leaving a group of people, maybe 15 percent, behind. We also focus on kids, all the way from birth on up, and weve got some societal problems we can help solve."
For a digital image of McKinney, please call Dave Lavallee, URI Department of Communications, 874-2116.
For Information: Lynn McKinney 401-874-4014, Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116