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Welcome to URI’s newest Big Thinkers

The University made a number of key appointments this past year.


Lori E. Ciccomascolo

Interim Dean of the College of Human Science and Services

In July, Lori E. Ciccomascolo accepted an appointment to serve as the interim dean of the University’s second-largest college, with more than 2,400 undergraduate and 400 graduate students in six departments. She joined the kinesiology department faculty in 2002 and has served as that department’s graduate director as well as the College’s interim associate dean. She was nominated for this latest post by several colleagues and appointed by Provost Donald H. DeHayes.

“I am deeply invested in this College and the success of its faculty and students,” Ciccomascolo said. “HSS is the best-kept secret at URI and beyond. We have high-quality faculty doing cutting-edge research. One of my most important goals is to improve the visibility and status of the College.” HSS has attracted millions in federal grants to improve gerontological care, science and math education in elementary and high schools, and use of technology to enhance the K–12 classroom experience. The College is also home to some of the nation’s leading textile chemistry research.

“Dean Ciccomascolo is a highly valued and respected member of the College and the greater URI community. Her long service to the College and deep understanding of its mission will serve students and faculty well,” DeHayes said.


Bruce H. Corliss

Dean, Graduate School of Oceanography

After an international search, Bruce H. Corliss, M.S. ’74, Ph.D. ’78 began leading the academic, research, and outreach activities of URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography in September. To return here to his alma mater, where he earned two graduate degrees in oceanography, Corliss left his position as director of the Duke/University of North Carolina Oceanographic Consortium, which comprises five universities that operate the R/V Cape Hatteras research vessel.

“GSO has an outstanding record of accomplishment in oceanography and marine science based on contributions by its faculty, students, and staff over the last 50 years,” Corliss said. “I look forward to working with the GSO community to continue this tradition.”

Corliss also chairs the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System, an organization of 61 academic institutions and national laboratories that work together to coordinate the activities of U.S. oceanographic research ships. In this capacity, he hosted a workshop on Greening the Academic Fleet to help make existing and future research vessels more environmentally sustainable. He also developed a speaker series for undergraduate colleges serving minority students, with the aim of recruiting students of color into the ocean sciences.


Carnell Jones Jr.

Director of Enrollment Services

In August, following a national search, we welcomed Carnell Jones Jr. as director of Enrollment Services, where he is overseeing registration, records, billing, and financial aid services for more than 16,000 full-time undergraduate and graduate students, as well as thousands of part-time students. Prior to joining the University of Rhode Island, Jones served as registrar for the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, where he managed enrollment, registration, grade reporting, veteran affairs, and related matters for the school’s population of about 10,000 students.

“This is a critical position that affects the services and support of our students, faculty, and staff. I am confident that Dr. Jones’s 15 years of experience and strong focus on customer service will support our efforts to enhance our one-stop office,” said Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Dean Libutti.

“URI is a major player in a major area, and it’s a place where I’m looking forward to applying my energy and skills and really rolling up my sleeves. I’m very excited to join the University of Rhode Island,” Jones said.


Mary C. Sullivan

Interim Dean of the College of Nursing

Mary C. Sullivan, Ph.D. ’94, internationally renowned for her research on premature infants’ development, joined the University’s leadership team in September as interim dean of the College of Nursing. She has served as the director of graduate education in the College of Nursing and is a respected instructor who has overseen the longest-running U.S. study of premature infants from birth into adulthood. She is also a research scientist at Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island and an adjunct professor of pediatrics at the Alpert Medical School at Brown University.

“Mary is an accomplished nurse-scientist and scholar and a highly valued and respected member of the College and greater URI communities. I have no doubt that she will provide effective leadership and ensure that the College continues to move forward,” said Provost Donald H. DeHayes. DeHayes has asked Sullivan to explore innovations, directions, and opportunities that will advance the position of both URI and the College of Nursing.

“I am fortunate to be leading the College as it welcomes the most academically talented and diverse freshman class in its history,” Sullivan said. “Given the critical importance of nurses in the role of health care reform, and the College’s efforts to improve the health of patients in numerous settings, URI will remain a leader locally and globally.”


Naomi R. Thompson

Associate Vice President for Community, Equity, and Diversity

Following a national search, attorney Naomi R. Thompson became the University’s first associate vice president for Community, Equity, and Diversity. Thompson will lead the University’s efforts to integrate diversity, equity, and community into its core mission, vision, and strategy. Before joining URI, she was the associate director of the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity at Northeastern University, where she structured a framework to address important diversity management needs, developed innovative models and programs to drive an effective diversity strategy, and implemented comprehensive recruiting, training, and talent management initiatives to improve the quality and diversity of new hires.

“As we’ve outlined in our transformational goals, building a community in which every member is welcomed, supported, and valued is essential to our identity and mission,” said President David M. Dooley. “I am confident that Ms. Thompson’s years of experience, organizational leadership, and passion for these issues will help us advance this core principal University-wide.”

“I am humbled and honored to have this wonderful opportunity,” Thompson said before assuming her new role in August. “I’m very excited by the University’s leadership, direction, and strategic plan. Even the evolution of this position itself … demonstrates an institutional commitment to equity, diversity, and social justice. Now I look forward to getting to work.”

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