URI has a profound impact in Rhode Island and beyond. And as our incredible 2023 grads step into their next chapters, that impact will increase with their contributions.
As we closed another academic year, capped by a truly memorable Commencement in May, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride in all that we accomplished. And while Commencement, for many, marks the end of a journey, it is, by definition, a beginning. After shaking the hands of thousands of our graduates as they eagerly crossed the stage to collect their diplomas, I am confident that, while they may be departing our campuses, URI has prepared them for bright futures.
This July, I will mark two years of serving as president of URI—two transformative years that have been filled with growth, change, excitement, and deep gratitude for our community. We have achieved so much together, and as our campuses shift to summer activities, I reflect on this past year, marked with milestones and much to celebrate: a record number of applications; an inauguration; a successful $100 million bond campaign for the Narragansett Bay Campus (thank you Rhode Islanders); the launch of a 10-year strategic plan; the appointment of Provost Barbara Wolfe; new academic programming and formal collaborations; athletic championships; historic levels of financial aid offered to our students; a State of the University address; millions secured in federal funding for research; unparalleled giving by donors and friends; and renewed commitment and investment by the state in Rhode Island’s flagship university. URI has and always will be in service to all Rhode Islanders, and just as we are changing lives every day in many ways across our campuses, it is our staff, faculty, students, and alumni who impart real change in their own communities and beyond.
The features in this issue share some of the ways URI is broadening and deepening our impact. “Rhode Island’s Water Warriors” profiles URI’s water outreach programs, including Watershed Watch, which rely on a robust network of volunteers and work together to keep the state’s waterways and watersheds clean and healthy. “For the Love of Honey” documents chemistry professor Matt Kiesewetter and entomology professor Steve Alm’s work in developing better honeybee protections. “Summer on the Wild Side: Studying Whale Sharks with Wetherbee” showcases the important programming by assistant professor of biological sciences Brad Wetherbee, whose passion for shark research draws everyone from Mary and me to underrepresented high school students to his boat to learn about these notorious sea creatures. Finally, there is the story of Abby Rodman ’84 and Julie Howard ’86, who host a podcast focused on navigating midlife with truth and sanity.
URI—thank you—it has been a tremendous and rewarding journey so far! And to our newest alumni from the Class of 2023, welcome to the next chapter!
Marc B. Parlange
President, University of Rhode Island