From the President

From the President

Greetings, URI Alumni and Friends!

I can hardly believe that spring is upon us. Looking around our bustling campuses—faculty and students gathered in conversation, classes on the Quad, flowers emerging from an unseasonably warm winter, and perhaps even a roaming chicken or two—I am reminded how lucky I am to be a part of this vibrant and energizing community. With Commencement around the corner, I can’t help but feel pride in all that we have accomplished together and the bright future we have ahead.

Earlier this year, we officially launched the University’s strategic plan, which will serve as our road map for the next 10 years as we navigate challenges, seize opportunities, distinguish ourselves from our peers, forge exciting new partnerships, and pursue new programming. This plan gives us a renewed sense of purpose, helping us deepen our commitment to our land- and sea-grant missions and cultivate a sense of place with endless opportunities for our community to thrive. We are Rhode Island’s flagship university and, I believe, in the coming years, we will serve as an engine for growth and economic prosperity for the state and all Rhode Islanders. I am inspired daily by the incredible work being done in all areas of the University, work that has broad and life-changing implications not just for those involved but for the greater good—from climate research and community health care to medical discoveries and programs like Talent Development.

The features in this issue give us a glimpse at that important work. In “Making it Hum,” a continuation of the blue economy feature in the fall 2022 issue, we learn about alumni who are advancing the blue economy in areas like aquaculture, defense, marine trades, offshore renewable energy, and ocean advocacy. “The Second-to-Last Lobsterman on Block Island” is the story of URI student Ebben Howarth ’23, a lobsterman living and working in an industry dealing with many challenges, some of which have been taken on by URI researchers. We also meet former URI women’s basketball star, Tracey Hathaway ’86, whose nonprofit organization, athLEDA, helps athletes make the transition from college to professional life; and Cassidy Need ’20, creator of Native Edible Designs, who designs sustainable landscapes that incorporate native and edible plants.

I hope you find the people, places, and ideas in this issue as inspiring as I do—I am certain that we have the right minds and the right resources to help us build a university for the future.

Marc B. Parlange
President, University of Rhode Island


Honey is one of five chickens living in a comfortable coop behind the president’s house on Upper College Road. Mary Parlange is training them with the help of Megan Rossilli, an undergraduate student majoring in animal and veterinary science.

The chickens spent much of the fall wandering the grounds near the president’s house, sometimes showing up for classes at nearby Swan Hall. Now they’re staying closer to home, thanks to a hungry resident hawk. Henrietta (inset, with Mary Parlange) survived an attack, but two of her flock mates weren’t so lucky.

Acknowledging URI’s agricultural roots, Mary Parlange, who has always wanted to have chickens, is happy to be carrying on the tradition established when the State Agricultural School, now the University of Rhode Island, opened in Kingston in 1890.

Henrietta and Honey have recently been joined by Disney (aka Dizzy), Netflix (aka Flix), and Hulu. You can follow them on Instagram: @uri_chickens.