Gratitude and hope for the coming year

January 26, 2024

To Our URI Community,

As we look to the start of a new semester, I want to take a moment to share my gratitude and my hope for our community in the coming year.

Reflection and Appreciation

Over the past several months, as we have witnessed the unsettling challenges and the unimaginable horrors of global conflict, I remain immensely grateful for our community here at URI. This week, as the Quad, once again, bustled with students, as faculty and staff reconnected, and our campuses filled with life after what was, hopefully, a well-deserved break, I am reminded of our purpose as a university and how fortunate I am to be a part of it. URI is a place where we embrace diverse perspectives and experiences, challenge ourselves to find solutions to some of the most pressing issues of our time, and seek opportunities that empower us to continuously grow and evolve in response to the world around us.

In December, we held our inaugural­ fall commencement ceremony where we conferred more than 400 undergraduate and graduate degrees. Graduates, faculty, alumni, family, and friends joined in a successful and memorable event and though similar to many other recognitions we have had, this was particularly celebratory for many of the students who concluded their studies in the fall and may not have returned for the ceremony in the spring. It was a reminder that we all play an integral role in the life of the University, that our journeys and milestones should be celebrated, and that the impact we have on our community, the communities we interact with, and the communities we return to or make our own is immense. I am grateful to everyone who made this new tradition one to remember.

Looking Ahead

At last spring’s State of the University address, we launched our 10-year strategic plan, FOCUS URI, setting ambitious goals for ourselves in four key areas. We have the blueprint for the next exciting decade of growth and transformation at URI, but our work has only just begun. My hope is that we can embrace opportunities in these key areas, together.

Broaden Our Impact: We will continue to focus on the work we do with the state of Rhode Island, our region, and the world. We will advocate for increased investment by the state in the people and programs that make URI unique, and we will start planning for a general obligation bond campaign, which will support the construction of a biomedical sciences building on the Kingston Campus, building on the momentum for growing life sciences in the state. Additionally, we will break ground on the construction of facilities that support our faculty, staff, and students and exciting research initiatives on our Bay Campus.

Enhance Student Achievement: The health and wellbeing of our community is paramount. We will continue to foster a campus environment that prioritizes mental, emotional, and physical health and, with the recent hiring of our new vice president for community, equity, and diversity, Markeisha Miner, we will focus on initiatives that promote a sense of belonging, inclusivity, and support for one another.

Foster a People-Centered Culture: We will continue to ensure that we foster a culture of collaboration and innovation across our divisions, departments, and colleges, as we welcome three new deans for the Colleges of Health SciencesPharmacy, and Nursing in Patrick Vivier, Kerry LaPlante, and Danny Willis. We will continue to find ways to gather as a community for honors symposiums, research presentations, art exhibits, theater and musical performances, games, meets, and matches, and we will start new traditions in May, as we create a more student-centered and inclusive commencement ceremony.

Power the University of the Future: Ensuring the financial health of our University is crucial for sustaining our mission of excellence in education, research, and service. We have committed to implementing financial practices, specifically an incentive-based budget model, that will improve our resource allocation and help steward us to a more stable foundation for the future. Additionally, I am confident that we will successfully reach our $300 million goal for our capital campaign thanks to the hard work of so many across our campuses and the generosity of many more in our community. These are huge milestones and we will reach them together.

I look forward to seeing you all this semester. I have office hours set aside and I warmly welcome you to sign up. But I also plan to visit club meetings, classrooms, labs, and lectures throughout the semester. One of the University’s greatest assets is its people, and it’s a pleasure to see how each of you contribute to this institution. The start of a new year is filled with possibility, and I wish all of you a rewarding, enjoyable, and successful semester.

Kind regards,
Marc Parlange