URI Professor Brenton DeBoef named dean of the University’s Graduate School

KINGSTON, R.I. – Aug. 3, 2021 – The University of Rhode Island has named Brenton DeBoef, Ph.D., professor of chemistry, dean of the University’s Graduate School, a post he’s held on an interim basis since July 2020.

“Dr. DeBoef has shared a bold vision for graduate education at URI and has the leadership, skill set and passion for graduate education to make that vision a reality,” said Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Donald H. DeHayes. “As a mentor to numerous graduate students, an excellence award recipient in both teaching and research, and through his roles as associate dean and interim dean of the Graduate School, Dr. DeBoef has the demonstrated knowledge, experience, and commitment to advance graduate education and position the institution to become an elite public research university. We are indeed fortunate that Dr. DeBoef will be leading the graduate enterprise at URI into the future.”

“It’s an exciting time to be a part of the Graduate School at URI,” said DeBoef. “We are well-positioned to grow in size and reputation, and I appreciate the strategic focus that the University is placing on our graduate programs. Because graduate education is inherently a life-improving and empowering process, my goal is to increase access so students from diverse backgrounds can pursue master’s and doctoral degrees. I’m passionate about creating environments that are both challenging and supportive to transform students into leaders both as professionals and as citizens.”

DeBoef, who lives in Smithfield, joined the University in 2005 as an assistant professor of chemistry after serving as a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University from 2003 to 2005. At URI, he has also served as director of the Rhode Island Idea Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) Training Core and as associate dean for Academic Affairs of the Graduate School. He has been the recipient of numerous honors, including an early career award from the National Science Foundation (2009), the Pfizer Green Chemistry Award (2011), and research and teaching excellence awards from URI in 2019.

DeBoef’s research group spans the fields of organic and organometallic chemistry, attempting to use these tools to solve medicinal and pharmaceutical problems. He is a frequent speaker at conferences in the U.S. and internationally, and has been published widely, including more than 30 scholarly articles and more than 2,200 research citations.

He holds doctoral and master’s degrees in organic chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and a bachelor’s in chemistry, summa cum laude, from Evangel College, in Springfield, Missouri.

DeBoef was chosen from a field of four finalists after a national search that attracted a strong pool of 45 applicants. The finalists were invited to the URI campus in June and presented to the community during in-person, open community forums.

The dean of the Graduate School serves primarily as the executive officer for Graduate School faculty, the senior administrative officer for the school, and as a member of URI’s Council of Deans.

As dean, DeBoef’s principal duties include providing leadership for graduate education at the University, developing strategic plans for the Graduate School, working collaboratively with deans and faculty to implement graduate education missions, providing guidance and innovation in the development of graduate programs consistent with the mission and strategic plan, and strategically and effectively managing enrollment, yield, and retention in graduate programs.