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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Women’s Council established to increase women’s influence at URI

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

KINGSTON, RI -- April 11, 2006 -- A fledgling organization established in 2005 is working to give women a stronger voice at the University of Rhode Island. The Women’s Council for Development was launched as a means of encouraging women to play a more active role in University life and enhance their influence on campus.

“I thought it was a great idea to get women together who were interested in furthering the interests of women at the University, both as students and alumni,” said Janice DiLorenzo, who started the group after discussions with Vice President for University Advancement Robert Beagle and Annual Fund Director Sarah Howard. “Women have as much interest in the economic growth of the University, as well as its social and emotional growth, as men do, but men don’t often see us in this kind of a role.”

The Council meets quarterly and has 33 members, including faculty, staff, students and alumnae. They are seeking additional members who have, as DiLorenzo calls it, the “time, talent and treasure” to contribute to this worthwhile endeavor.

While acknowledging that the Council is still a work in progress, DiLorenzo and Howard said the group already has a number of activities in the works. A women’s leadership event is being planned for early 2007 that will offer a variety of seminars geared to women on such topics as financial planning and balancing work and family. Ultimately the group wants to offer similar services to URI alumnae around the country.

“Women excel at networking, and the Council will provide URI women with great opportunities to connect with other women and reach out to the University community and beyond,” said Howard. “For a number of years, many boards and advisory groups on campus were composed primarily of men, so this is a great way for women to take a leadership role at the University and focus on women’s issues.”

In addition to networking and leadership activities, the group aims to help the University address pressing issues, like increasing student retention. Out-of-state women are the group most likely to leave URI without graduating, so the Women’s Council hopes to help learn why and identify ways to reverse that trend.

The Council is also in the early stages of establishing a scholarship for female students holding leadership positions on campus.
“Janice and Sarah deserve a lot of credit for taking the concept of a council and running with it,” said Beagle. “URI has a women’s alumnae constituency of which we are very proud, and they have a very strong history of supporting the institution. The Council captures this group in an organized way and helps widen their ability to influence the University agenda.

“Nationally, women are increasingly becoming the drivers in philanthropy --giving their own resources, managing the resources of others, and setting philanthropic agendas. Such an active role in philanthropy gives women the ability to help shape the policies and the priorities of both non-profit and for-profit organizations,” he added.

Those interested in contributing to the scholarship or joining the Council should contact Howard at 401-874-2438 or showard@advance.uri.edu.