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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI President Robert L. Carothers to receive New England Board of Higher Education lifetime achievement award

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

NEBHE Contact: Charlotte Stratton, 617.357.9620 ext 125



BOSTON, Mass. -- March 11, 2008 -- The New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) announced today that University of Rhode Island President Robert L. Carothers and the Dorcas Place Adult and Family Learning Center will be honored with 2008 New England Higher Education Excellence Awards.

Carothers will receive the Eleanor M. McMahon Award for Lifetime Achievement. The award is named for the late Rhode Island higher education commissioner, scholar and educator.

Dorcas Place, located in Providence, will receive the Rhode Island State Merit Award for its leadership in contributing to the state’s economic growth through the development of a more literate and productive workforce.

NEBHE Interim President and CEO Michael K. Thomas said about the honorees: “President Carothers is one of New England's most respected higher education leaders. He has overseen the transformation of the University of Rhode Island, expanding its physical infrastructure, re-energizing the curriculum, increasing student and faculty diversity and attracting top students. Moreover, he has mentored the next generation of higher education leaders that will extend his influence far into the future. For nearly three decades, Dorcas Place has contributed to the social and economic growth of Rhode Island by providing adult education, advocacy and community programs that have increased literacy and allowed individuals to reach their full potential.”

Each year, NEBHE presents Regional Excellence Awards to individuals and organizations that have shown exceptional leadership on behalf of higher education and the advancement of educational opportunity. The organization also presents State Merit Awards to honor the innovative work of organizations, institutions or individuals in each New England state.

Carothers became the 10th president of the University of Rhode Island in 1991. Since then, he has initiated a series of progressive changes to the university’s structure, infrastructure and curriculum.

Carothers’ vision for student education shifts students from being passive listeners to active learners and develops in the students a concern for their neighbors, whether across the street or across an ocean. The Princeton Review named the university a “college with a conscience” in the spring of 2005. This accomplishment is a direct result of President Carothers’ efforts to establish a university that links classroom learning to community service.

He initiated a Centennial Scholarship program to attract high-achieving students to URI and strengthened programs to assist them once enrolled at the university. The Centennial program rewards students strictly on academic accomplishments and now disburses more than $6 million annually. As a result, the average SAT score for incoming freshman has risen nearly 160 points since 1991.

Carothers has overseen more than $200 million in new construction, renovation and rehabilitation of existing structures. The university currently has a wide-ranging capital improvement program totaling $290 million in active projects.

Dorcas Place is in its 27th year of providing a comprehensive scope of adult education programs for low-income Rhode Islanders. The Dorcas Place mission is to assist low-income adults in realizing their full potential through literacy, employment, advocacy and community involvement. Dorcas Place is a community leader and partner seeking to contribute to the state’s economic growth through the development of a more literate and productive workforce.

Nearly 1,000 students each year are enrolled in: day and evening adult basic education, ESOL and GED classes; college transition programs at two campuses of the Community College of Rhode Island; family literacy and after-school programs to enhance the learning gains of children in local elementary schools; and workforce literacy training, job placement and retention services through the career academy and job center. Dorcas Place provides a learning resource center and computer lab; student case management and support services to improve persistence and reduce barriers to achieving goals; and a clothing collaborative program that provides professional clothing for low-income adults transitioning to college and work.

New service initiatives in 2008 include developmental education institutes for reading and math in collaboration with the Community College of Rhode Island and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and a Rhode Island Welcome Back Center that will provide English language instruction and certification assistance for foreign credentialed immigrant health professionals seeking to practice in Rhode Island.

NEBHE will present the awards at its annual gala, to be held on Friday, March 14th, at Boston’s Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel.

Additional information about NEBHE’s New England Higher Education Excellence Awards is available online at http://www.nebhe.org/excellence2008

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NEBHE is a nonprofit, congressionally authorized agency whose mission is to promote greater educational opportunities and services for the residents of New England. NEBHE programs are principally focused on the relationship between New England higher education and regional economic development.