Brownell named dean of URI's
College of Arts and Sciences
KINGSTON, R.I. -- June 29, 1999 -- Kermit the Frog
tells us that it's not easy being green. He might have said it isn't easy
being dean. But then, he never met Dr. Winifred Brownell, affectionately
known as Winnie to her friends and colleagues. She makes her demanding job
as new dean of the University of Rhode Island's College of Arts and Sciences
seem like child's play.
Yet Brownell isn't kidding around when it comes
to what is best for students and faculty in URI's largest and most diverse
College, which has more than 300 full-time employees, 22 departments and
more than 60 undergraduate and graduate programs, research centers and institutes,
concert, performance and fine arts series, and outreach programs. As its
interim dean for the past three years, Brownell has a thorough knowledge
of the College which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.
"People often ask me 'What do you get with
a liberal arts education?' My answer is SUCCESSFUL," says the dean.
"We produce well-educated citizens who are prepared for change."
"Winnie is a strong advocate for the College's
students and faculty and a champion of its programs," said M. Beverly
Swan, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. "I feel privileged
that a national search resulted in the appointment of an individual with
Winnie's talents and dedication. She is both tough and compassionate, a
wonderful leader and a great colleague," said Swan.
Brownell is also aware of limited resources. To
gain flexibility and support for the College, the dean has worked with Robert
Beagle, vice president of University Advancement and his staff -- especially
Thomas Zorabedian --to help raise almost $2-million for the College since
Brownell says that in the past, the University
has often pursued and disseminated knowledge for knowledge's sake. Today,
the University seeks partnerships with business, industry, and the private
sector to increase economic development, support basic research, and enhance
the quality of people's lives.
The dean calls the College "the vibrant heart"
of URI. It offers 40 undergraduates majors and 16 graduate degrees, and
its faculty are involved in the University's four focus areas and each university-funded
Under Brownell's leadership the College has added
majors in public relations, African and African-American studies in collaboration
with Rhode Island College, marine biology, and a graduate program in communication
Plans on the horizon include enhancement of Native
American, African and African-American, Asian, and Latin American studies
and further diversification of the faculty.
An interdisclipinary information resource management
graduate program, a graduate program in forensic science, a bachelor of
arts degree in computer science, a film study major, and programs in Hellenic
studies, justice, law, and society are also being considered. The College
also hopes to launch an arts management program with the College of Business
Like a proud parent, Brownell can cite chapter
and verse the multiple accomplishments of the College's faculty, students,
and staff. "The challenge is to provide a supportive climate where
our talented students, faculty, and staff can excel," she says, adding
that the key to success is to listen with care, to delegate when appropriate
and work collaboratively.
Under Brownell's direction, the College has expanded
its arts programming and has rewarded excellence. For example, last year
she established the versatile Hope and Heritage Fund which is used to support
both faculty and student excellence. To date, more than 100 faculty and
students have received awards from the fund. The dean recently purchased
an ink drawing by Stephen Thompson, a
graduating senior whose art was part of the graduating
seniors juried art show with fund money. She plans to purchase a work each
year from the senior show and hang them in one of the 15 Arts and Sciences
Brownell came to URI as an instructor of what is
now known as communication studies. She has served on more than 60 committees
for the University. For eight years, she served as director of URI's Speech
Communication Center, twice coordinated honors colloquiums, chaired the
Faculty Senate, coordinated the organization of URI's College of Human Science
and Services, and served as a member of the American Association of University
Professors Executive Committee. Her research and publications have addressed
aging and communication, new communication technologies, and communication
Always a good sport for a good cause, Brownell
joined URI Professors Chet Hickox and J. Morton Briggs last year to win
the South County Center for the Arts Spelling Bee.
Brownell lives in North Kingstown with her husband
Gary Brownell, associate executive director, American Mathematical Society
and their two children.
For More Information: Jan Sawyer,