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Left to right, Joe-Silem Enlet, Amelia Moore, Melva Treviño Peña, Kendall Moore, Wanda Hopkins, and Alex DeCiccio. Photo: Courtesy Alex DeCiccio

From the Editor

In February, I had the privilege of attending a Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) presentation, “Oceans Tell Stories Through People,” conceived and designed by Professor Kendall Moore (journalism and film media) and Alex DeCiccio ’10, from GSO’s Inner Space Center (ISC). They, with the ISC’s Ryan Campos and Patrick Flanagan, crafted a moving multimedia presentation of four stories with a common thread—being in respectful and reciprocal relationship with the ocean.

Here at URI, we know we are connected to the ocean. But how are we connected? How do we explain our relationship? For some of us, it can be explained by sharing stories—stories the ocean tells through us.

Through Joe-Silem Enlet, the ocean tells a story of sharing and oneness. A marine affairs Ph.D. student and former diplomat, he grew up in Micronesia, where, when they fish, he said, the day’s catch is divided among the village. When someone dies, the waterfront adjacent to the family’s land is off limits for fishing for a time, to let the land and water rest and restore itself. When it reopens, it teems with life. “The ocean,” he said, “is not other. It is us.”

The first person of color hired as a full-time, tenure-track faculty member in marine affairs, assistant professor Amelia Moore worries that the ocean is taught and studied from too narrow a perspective, one that obscures the voices and histories of many. Through her, the sea tells a history and shares memories—of the triangle trade and the Middle Passage—and of those who drowned on voyages they did not choose to take.

Melva Treviño Peña, assistant professor of fisheries, animal and veterinary sciences, has done research in communities in Ecuador that rely on mangroves, which have been compromised by shrimp aquaculture. There, people love the mangroves, which provide for them, and, in turn, feel duty-bound to care for the mangroves. Through her, the ocean recounts a story of reciprocity, which is spiritual and emotional in nature, not simply transactional.

And through Wanda Hopkins ’20, a URI staff member and graduate student in URI’s English department, the sea tells a story of wisdom. She is a Narragansett Indian tribal elder who spoke about the importance of coastal waters to the Narragansett nation. Thousands of years of oral history, data collection, and relationship-based science have been passed down through tribal elders, Hopkins said, adding, “One day, Western science will catch up with our knowledge.”

Western science does have to catch up, and so do we. As author Robin Wall Kimmerer reminds us in Braiding Sweetgrass, “All flourishing is mutual.” The storytellers who spoke in “Oceans Tell Stories Through People” know that to be true.

As we think about our reliance on and relationship with the ocean, there is wisdom in these stories that can help us get it right.

—Barbara Caron, Editor-in-Chief

From URI Magazine Readers

Our Forgotten Foremothers of Sport?

Although I enthusiastically celebrate (the reinstatement of ) women’s lacrosse at URI, the article, “Women’s Varsity Lacrosse Coming to URI” (fall 2022), got it plain wrong. It stated, “Jenna Slowey has been named the first head coach in Rhode Island women’s lacrosse history.” Women competed in URI varsity women’s lacrosse, division I, decades ago. Coaches Beth Bricker and Alison Walsh come to mind as head coaches in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

URI competed within the USWLA (U.S. Women’s Lacrosse Association) and AIAW (Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) seasons prior to becoming part of the NCAA in the 80s. Even before Title IX, women varsity lacrosse players were lacing up and proudly representing URI while competing in the highest collegiate division. Several URI Women were top players in the country and were named to play on the U.S. Women’s Lacrosse Squad. Those women represented the U.S. in national and international competitions under the direction of U.S. Coach Jackie Pitts. It’s a real shame that those dedicated student-athletes, who represented URI so dutifully, are not known or recognized by URI.

And I would note that the NCAA way back was when women were “semi-seen,” almost begrudgingly… it was male, male, male—all male. It seems to prove again that the only time women athletes (and coaches) are legitimized is when they participate within a deeply rooted male institution (as if they weren’t real athletes until the NCAA “let” them in). Just can’t seem to shake the patriarchy!

Best wishes to Coach Jenna Slowey and the URI women’s varsity lacrosse team.

Go Rhody!

—Tracy Andrews-Mellouise ’81, ’82, former URI varsity student-athlete (lacrosse, volleyball, and field hockey)

Memories of Muhammad Ali’s 1971 Visit

The fall 2022 Famous Footsteps story, “1971: The Greatest Comes to Kingston,” struck a nostalgic note for many readers who fondly recalled Muhammad Ali’s visit to URI.

David Quaglieri received this autographed photo of Muhammad Ali when he attended Ali’s press conference in Keaney Gym in April 1971.
David Quaglieri received this autographed photo of Muhammad Ali when he attended Ali’s press conference in Keaney Gym in April 1971. Photo: Courtesy David Quaglieri

“The Purpose of Life” and being remembered as more than a boxer was Ali’s delivery that night. I was 13 years old, there with my big brother. We got an autographed photo at the end that Ali signed with, as he called it, “a real ink pen!” I recall, also, an audience member asking what he would do if a person tried to pick a fight with him in the street. He said, “First of all, he would have to be CRAZY!” He was more than a boxer.

—David Quaglieri

I was there at Keaney that night, but thanks for clearing up my memory as I remembered his visit being prior to the Frazier fight as opposed to after the fight. I saw the fight on closed circuit in Providence.

—Arnie “Tokyo” Rosenthal ’73

Ali’s tour bus (he hated to fly) stopped in front of the student union the afternoon before his speech at Keaney Gym. He gets out of the bus and chats us up. We are sit- ting on the wall drinking coffee and skipping class. We were shocked and excited to see him. He was funny and charismatic. Somebody (not me) brought up the Frazier fight and he faked throwing left jabs at the offender. It was a great spontaneous moment. After about 10 minutes he was off to wherever.

—Tom Gunning ’74

I had the opportunity to spend the day with Ali and bring him to the ACI, where he spoke to the inmates. As the Supreme Court reviewed his case, he was concerned about prison life. On the way back to campus, he was driving the bus and stopped to pick up children hitchhiking on I-95. He wanted to take them to their house in Coventry, which would have made him late for the URI talk. We negotiated a safe place to drop them off.

—Kenneth Levy ’71

The “Why” Questions are Important

“The Intention of One Line of Dialogue” (fall 2022) is a solid, affecting student profile. Thank you for sharing this. And to Mr. Robles I say, I hope you continue on, and all your tasks run true. I absolutely agree that the “Why” questions are the most valuable ones, and I’m heartened that you have focused on these questions in your life. After reading your profile, I, too, feel renewed.

—Howard Dooley, project administrator, Rhode Island EPSCoR

Recovering Erased Histories

I attended an online course on the history of the University taught by the professors mentioned in “A Walk Through Time” (fall 2022). It was eye opening, and I am so glad to see a set of courses being introduced into the curriculum. I would love to see how it is received by students and how it progresses and grows. My best wishes to the instructors and a big thank you for starting this.

—Lakshman Srinivasan, M.S. ’83


I love the fall 2022 issue.

—John Skaradowski ’71

Congrats for the continuing, consistent quality and appearance/format of the magazine. It’s a pleasure to anticipate and read … and share.

—Gene Knott, professor emeritus of human development and family studies

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