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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI appoints airport official to controller's post

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

North Smithfield resident has extensive record in public, private sectors

KINGSTON, R.I. -- June 8, 2004 -- The University of Rhode Island has named Sharon B. Bell, the corporate controller at the Rhode Island Airport Corp. since 1993, to the position of University controller.

URI Vice President for Administration Robert Weygand announced the appointment of Bell today. A resident of North Smithfield, Bell has a three-year contract with the University that will pay her $110,000 annually. Bell starts work at URI on June 21.

“Sharon has wide-ranging experience with state systems and processes, substantial knowledge of state government and regulation and will be a great addition to our management team at URI," Weygand said. "The skills she possesses fit very nicely with the University, and she is ready to lead the controller’s office. We are delighted that she has accepted our offer; she will be a great asset to the University."

Weygand said Bell was controller when the state Division of Airports became a quasi-public corporation, the Rhode Island Airport Corp. "They had to start from scratch, and make the transition from being a state government agency to a corporation, which is no small task. Sharon also played a critical role in a major software conversion, which will benefit us here at URI as we continue to work with our new management software, PeopleSoft."

As URI controller, Bell will be responsible for developing, implementing and maintaining a comprehensive system of internal controls for a $400 million budget and $280 million in assets. The controller oversees the maintenance and upgrade of an integrated financial accounting system and for the continuous refinement of administrative controls to ensure compliance with federal, state and institutional policies, as well as the latest accounting practices.

In her position at the airport corporation, Bell oversees the financial reporting, accounting system, general ledger, budget, accounts receivable, accounts payable, cash management, and fixed assets for an enterprise fund with multiple funds. The corporation has annual operating revenues of $50 million and an annual non-operating budget of about $49 million. It has assets of $400 million 195 employees.

At the airport corporation, she has coordinated year-end audits, complying with General Accepted Accounting Principles and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board. She is skilled in planning and administering corporate budgets and has experience in a collective bargaining environment.

She has consistently met state-imposed deadlines for audited financial statements with no audit adjustments, and she designed the general ledger and financial reporting system when the state agency became a corporation and a subsidiary of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp. in 1993.

A 1986 graduate of Bryant College with a major in accounting, Bell earned the Certified Public Accountant designation in 1988.

"This is an incredible opportunity, and I look forward to the challenges," Bell said. "I am excited about becoming a part of the management team at URI."

While she will miss her team at the airport corporation, Bell said that she is looking forward to working with Weygand and the staff. "I was very impressed when I met with the controller's group (about 25 employees). They are very dedicated, and care about the University."

Bell said she brings to URI an ability to implement new financial modules and make them work, and to work successfully with a team on a variety of challenges. "Also, I have experience accounting for major construction projects that are funded through multiple funding sources, including revenue bonds," Bell added.

For Further Information: Robert Weygand 401-874-2433