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President's Office at The University of Rhode Island


Birthdate: September 3, 1942
B.A., English, Edinboro University, PA, 1965
Ph.D., Kent State University, 1969
J.D., McDowell School of Law, University of Akron, 1980

President Carothers at the Narragansett Bay Campus

President Southwest State University (Minnesota), 1983-86
Chancellor, Minnesota State University system, 1986-91
President, University of Rhode Island, 1991-present

Since Robert L. Carothers moved to Rhode Island from Minnesota in 1991 to become the 10th president of the University of Rhode Island, he has initiated a series of progressive changes to the University 's structure, infrastructure, and curriculum.

During his tenure, the University has increased enrollment of the best and brightest students in the state and region, improved its physical campus environment, increased the diversity among students, faculty and staff, and enhanced its levels of alumni, corporate, and state support. He has also forged links with universities and agencies around the world to foster collaborations in the academic, business and public policy arenas.

For all of his achievements at URI and his career as an innovator in higher education, the president received the 2008 Eleanor M. McMahon Award for Lifetime Achievement from The New England Board of Higher Education.

In April 2007, President Carothers began his three-year term as chairman of the Council of Presidents of the Global U8 Consortium, a group of eight universities from around the world formed to address emerging issues confronting the global community.

Established in 2003, the Global U8 Consortium merges expertise from the eight member institutions to develop a joint education system, conduct collaborative research, and build administrative capacity on such topics as global logistics, marine affairs, advanced technologies and business administration. In addition to URI, Consortium members are Inha University (Korea), the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (Australia), Xiamen University (China), Meiji University (Japan), University of Le Havre (France), University of Haifa (Israel), and University of Washington.

Building the University 's endowment has also been a priority. When he arrived in Kingston, the University 's endowment was $12 million and now endowment funds total $95 million, due in great measure to the president 's commitment to a comprehensive development strategy that put in place staff and resources to raise funds from alumni, friends of the University, corporations and foundations. In 1992, the president launched the University 's first capital campaign with a goal of $50 million. When the campaign ended, it had raised $15 million more than the goal. Now, the University is in the midst of its second comprehensive campaign, which has its public kickoff in October. Already, about half of the $100 million goal has been raised during the leadership gift phase. A direct benefit of the president 's focus on building private giving capacity has been an invigorated and more actively engaged alumni.

President Carothers' determination to transform the University has led to positive national recognition for URI in the academic, student affairs, outreach, and athletic arenas.

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.

URI was featured in The Princeton Review 's Colleges With A Conscience: 81 Great Schools with Outstanding Community Involvement (Random House), which was published in June 2005.

Such a designation is related to President Carothers ' new vision for student education that shifts students from being passive listeners to active learners and that develops in the students a concern for their neighbor, whether across the street or across an ocean, as a top priority of URI 's curriculum and Student Life programs. This new culture includes clearly defined expectations that echo Dr. Carothers ' "no tolerance" policy toward violence and drug and alcohol abuse.

Most recently, President Carothers was selected the 2007 recipient of the Jeanne Clery Campus Safety Award for his efforts to reduce student alcohol abuse. Presented by Connie and Howard Clery, co-founders of Security On Campus, Inc., the award honors those who have taken extraordinary actions to make students safe.

He has been a national leader in developing learning communities, small cohorts of students in specific majors who are able to collaborate on their coursework and research. This year, 100 percent of the nearly 3,200 freshmen (the largest freshman class in URI 's 115-year history) are in learning communities and 40 percent are in living-learning communities, students who share academic disciplines and live in common residence hall space. Overall, total enrollment has grown from 14,319 in 1998 to 15,395 in 2007. And thanks to President Carothers, URI is in demand. More than 14,000 students applied to URI for the 2007-2008 academic year, a 6 percent increase over last year.

In concert with his vision, 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. The program now disburses more than $6 million annually. As a result, the average SAT score for incoming freshman has risen nearly 160 points since 1991.

Dr. Carothers has been a pioneer among public universities in providing talented students with the tools to win prestigious awards, opening an Honors Scholarship Office in 1996. In March 2005, the University was named a 2004 Truman Foundation Honor Institution, the first public university in New England to receive the honor and one of three selected nationally. URI, which has had 12 Truman Scholarship winners, was selected for encouraging talented students to pursue careers in public service and for helping students win Truman Scholarships, including three in the past five years. In addition to the Truman awards, URI students have won a variety of national scholarships including the Udall, Goldwater, National Security Education Fellowships, the Madison, and the Fulbright. A URI student-athlete also became the first in University history to earn an NCAA Post Graduate Scholarship in early 2005. A recent alumna became the University 's first Rhodes Scholar, the first woman at a four-year public institution in New England to earn the coveted honor.

While building a stronger student body, President Carothers has also been building the University 's physical plant. During his 18-year tenure, he has overseen more than $700 million in new construction and renovation and rehabilitation of existing structures. Among the newest additions to the Kingston campus are the $4.7 million Alumni Center, the transformed home of the business college, Ballentine Hall, $10.9 million; Green Hall, $6.25 million; the Ryan Center, $54 million and the Boss Arena, $12 million.

During the spring of 2005, Dr. Carothers helped launch $120 million in projects for a new dining hall, new suite- and apartment-style undergraduate housing, residence hall renovations and 1,483 new parking spaces for students. The three new residence halls and new dining hall opened officially in August 2007 to rave reviews from students, parents and staff. All four facilities are nationally certified for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance "green" buildings.

Currently, the University has a wide-ranging capital improvement program totaling $290 million in active projects. Construction on the $60 million Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences is well under way, as is design for the new $75 million home for the College of Pharmacy. The two facilities will help position the state as a leader in biomedical and biotechnical research and economic development.

The tremendous growth in the strength and number of the student body, the major overhaul and expansion of academic, athletic and student-centered facilities, and a growing research enterprise have all come as state support for URI 's operating budget continues to wane. Over the past seven years, URI has received a net reduction in state support for operations. Still, with President Carothers ' leadership, the University has found innovative ways to be a national leader in critical areas of higher education.

While leading the physical transformation of the campus, he has continued to pay close attention to the status of women and minorities, issues surrounding substance abuse and the development of future leaders in higher education.

Dr. Carothers established the first President 's Commission on the Status of Women in December 1999, and implemented a series of steps intended to advance the progress of women at URI.

In 2002, he completed three years of service on the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 's Committee on Campus Drinking, which culminated with the publication of a research agenda for the nation. He was one of only six university presidents to serve on the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Prevention Presidential Leadership Group. Dr. Carothers has also been an outspoken advocate of Rhode Island legislation that lowered the legal threshold for drunk driving to .08 percent of blood alcohol.

President Carothers is also a mentor to many administrators who aspire to top jobs in higher education. In February 2005, more than 1,000 people gave Dr. Carothers a standing ovation at the annual meeting of the American Council on Education, in Washington, D.C. The applause was prompted by the presentation of the first Council of Fellows Outstanding Mentor Award to President Carothers. Since joining he has mentored nine Fellows, tying a long-held record for the most Fellows during the four decades of the program. The URI President shared the honor with University of Delaware President David Roselle. This was not the first time the two men were honored jointly. Last spring, each administrator received the President 's Leadership Group Award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for establishing some of the country 's most comprehensive alcohol abuse programs on their campuses.

President Carothers is active on the boards of many civic and professional organizations, including the Leadership Council of the American Council on Education, Citizens Bank, The National Conference for Community and Justice, and the Rhode Island Economic Policy Council.

Notices from President Carothers