URI welcomes accomplished, collaborative leader for the College of Arts & Sciences

Experienced, innovative dean to lead URI's largest academic college.

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Jeannette E. Riley
Jeannette E. Riley, Dean
College of Arts & Sciences

KINGSTON, R.I. — The University of Rhode Island has appointed Dr. Jeannette E. Riley of Providence, to be the dean of its largest academic college, the College of Arts and Sciences. Riley is currently dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. She is expected to begin her duties at URI this month.

“Dr. Riley is an accomplished, collaborative leader in higher education who understands the core values of a liberal arts education and will work with faculty to ensure a compelling vision for the 21st century for the college’s academic and research programs,” said Donald H. DeHayes, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “During her tenure as dean at UMass Dartmouth and in her numerous roles years earlier, she fostered growth and development of a thriving college. Faculty research, scholarship, and creative work grew substantially under her leadership and she established a transparent budget process to align funding allocations with college and university strategic plans and priorities.

“She is a talented and experienced academic leader and I am confident that her unique strengths and collaborative style will generate a new energy and vitality for the future of the College of Arts and Sciences,” said DeHayes.

Riley has been with the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, College of Arts and Sciences since 2002. She became dean of that college in 2014 after serving as interim dean for two years. She started her UMass Dartmouth career as an assistant professor of English and Women’s Studies and since that time she has led or chaired a number of programs, among them the Department of English, the Women’s Studies Program, and the Liberal Arts Program, as well as led UMass Dartmouth initiatives in faculty development and online learning. Earlier in her academic career, she was a faculty member with Kent State University and served as a teaching assistant at the University of New Mexico.

“I am excited to be joining URI’s College of Arts and Sciences and building upon the strong foundation of existing academic programs, Centers, and Institutes to continue the college’s trajectory of excellence and innovation,” said Dr. Riley. “I am particularly looking forward to developing new programs that cut across traditional lines to create innovative student learning experiences that prepare students to lead in our global economy.”

As a scholar, Riley’s research and teaching focuses on post-1945 American literature, contemporary women’s literature, and feminist theory. She is the author of Understanding Adrienne Rich and has been published in numerous refereed journals. She earned her Ph.D. in Contemporary American & British literature and literary theory from the University of New Mexico and her Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in English from University of New Hampshire, and Colby College, respectively.

Riley will succeed Winifred “Winnie” Brownell of North Kingstown, who was named dean of the College in 1999. Provost DeHayes said: “I would especially like to thank our retiring Dean, Winnie Brownell, for her decades of leadership and extraordinary commitment and support for the College and the entire University. In fact, this thank you is really on behalf of the thousands of students, now alumni and the entire University community whose lives have been improved by the College and Winnie’s deep understanding, passion and lifelong commitment to the arts and sciences.”

URI’s College of Arts and Sciences offers 21st century liberal arts education and research programs, including programs in the visual and performing arts, design, social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, and mathematics, and the Harrington School of Communication and Media.