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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI’s graduate program in labor, human resources

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862


For Immediate Release
For Further Information: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116


KINGSTON, R.I. – October 26, 2009 – The master’s degree in Labor Relations and Human Resources at the University of Rhode Island has earned accreditation from the Society for Human Resource Management.

URI was one of only 44 master’s program in the world and one of only two in New England to earn accreditation from the world’s largest association for human resource management. URI is the only public college or university in New England to earn the designation.

Accreditation means that the University’s master’s program fully aligns with the society’s curriculum guides established in 2005.

“As an accredited school, the University of Rhode Island bears the well-earned hallmark that accompanies rigorous accreditation standards,” said Debra J. Cohen, chief knowledge officer of the Society for Human Resource Management in a letter to the University. “We hope . . . that future students will not only recognize your university because of the quality and thoroughness of its HR degree program, but will potentially seek more information about becoming a degree candidate at your University.”

Nasser Zawia, dean of URI’s graduate school, said, "This is another example of the excellent graduate programs at URI that have received national and international recognition. I would like to congratulate the faculty and students in Labor Relations-Human Resources for their stellar performance."

Richard W. Scholl, professor and director of the Schmidt Labor Research Center, said more and more firms and organizations realize their workers are what give them a competitive advantage.

“Solid human resources management addresses the question, “What kind of people do we hire and how do we keep them committed once they are here’?” Scholl said.

One of the major steps taken by the program was the hiring of Assistant Professor Anthony Wheeler, a human resources specialist. Cooperation between Scholl and College of Business Administration Dean Mark Higgins led to a joint appointment for Wheeler.

Education in human resources management includes the typical transactional functions—payroll and benefits management and compliance—following local, federal and state laws, including fair employment and labor laws. But it also includes performance management— linking employee benefits to the competitive interests of the company; and organizational change—including change management, preparation for a major strategic shift.

Wheeler said leading human resources management theory says, “Employees should be part of the strategy. Many companies think they can solve problems simply by spending money, but not paying attention to employee issues like high turnover is like committing business suicide. Studies show that managers spend 80 percent of their day managing people.

“What this certification says to students is that the education they receive at URI gives them the human resources skills and knowledge that they should possess as human resources professionals.”

In addition to Scholl and Wheeler, other faculty members involved in the program are: Mathew M. Bodah, associate professor of labor relations; Amy Tabor, a lecturer in labor relations; Richard McIntyre, professor of economics and director of the URI Honors Program; Mark Grossman, assistant professor of labor relations and Scott Molloy, professor of labor relations.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) represents more than 250,000 members in more than 140 countries. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India.