URI’s Riley among five new members named to the R.I. Council for the Humanities Board of Directors

KINGSTON, R.I. – April 7, 2021 – Jeannette E. Riley, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University Rhode Island, has been named to the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. Riley joins four other new members on the 19-member board. Their terms began April 1.

“These leaders bring experience in strategic storytelling and branding, higher education, finance, and business development,” the humanities council said in its April 6 press release announcing the new members. “Each is deeply involved in communities across Rhode Island.”

“I’m thrilled to join the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities team and work with them to further their efforts in spreading humanities initiatives across the state,” said Riley. “The humanities expand how we understand history, our own and other cultures, what we value, and who we can become. Most importantly, the humanities develop empathy, creativity, imagination, and civic engagement—all essential attributes for the sustenance of our communities and democracy.”

Prior to joining URI in 2018, Riley was a professor of English and women’s and gender studies at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where she also served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 2012-2017. At URI, she also serves as a professor of English and gender and women’s studies. Her research interests focus on women’s literature with an emphasis on contemporary women writers and feminist theory, and feminist pedagogy and online/blended teaching and learning.

In addition to publications on writers such as Eavan Boland, Toni Morrison and Terry Tempest William, Riley has published extensively on American poet Adrienne Rich and is the author of “Understanding Adrienne Rich,” part of the University of South Carolina’s Understanding Contemporary American Literature series. Her public humanities work includes teaching literature for the Clemente Course in the Humanities in New Bedford (2006-2015) and the Providence Clemente Veterans Initiative (2018-2021), which earned a 2020 Innovation in Humanities award from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.

Riley earned her bachelor’s degree at Colby College, her master’s in English from the University of New Hampshire, and her Ph.D. in English in post-1945 American and British literature and literary theory from the University of New Mexico.

Riley joins new members Jeannine Dingus-Eason, Ph.D., dean of the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development at Rhode Island College; Jorge Mejia, director of finance at the International Charter School in Pawtucket; Doug Popovich, director of Storytelling & Presentations at CVS Health; and Marcia Sousa Da Ponte, a former Vice-Consul of Portugal and currently a member of several Portuguese-American cultural organizations in Rhode Island and member of the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Day of Portugal Committee.

For full biographies of all new members, please go to the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities website.