New Board of Trustees to help boost URI’s efforts to be more ‘nimble, strategic, innovative’

General Assembly, governor approve 17-member oversight board

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862 |

KINGSTON, R.I. — July 11, 2019 — Recognizing that the University of Rhode Island has become a renowned global research and teaching institution that recruits faculty, staff and students from around the world and educates more than 18,000 students each year, the Rhode Island General Assembly and Gov. Gina Raimondo will establish a Board of Trustees to govern the University.

The new 17-member governing board was part of the state budget, which was signed into law by Raimondo July 5. The board will give the University more autonomy to develop education and research initiatives that are consistent with a public flagship research institution.

The state’s action, which takes effect, Feb. 1, 2020, means that URI will no longer be governed by the Rhode Island Council on Postsecondary Education, which will continue to oversee Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island.

Instead, the University will join its peer and competitor institutions that have governing bodies solely dedicated to the success of their missions and that focus on higher education trends and best practices for their public research universities.

“This is a vital step as we continue to build on the University’s reputation as a global leader in research and teaching,” URI President David M. Dooley said. “As members of the URI community, we should all be grateful to our state representatives, senators and governor for their hard work on this legislation. Their support means that the University will have the tools necessary to offer its faculty outstanding research spaces and opportunities, and our students an education that will prepare them for the jobs of the future anywhere in the world, all while strengthening URI’s position as an economic engine for the people of Rhode Island.”

Dooley added that having its own separate board will give the University the ability to gain approval more quickly for new academic programs in response to critical societal issues and market demands, make funding and financial aid decisions in a timely manner to address enrollment and personnel needs and streamline the purchasing process so research and other projects can meet their benchmarks and deadlines.

The bill that became part of the approved budget acknowledges that the aspirations of high school graduates and their families require continuous innovation and transformation of the University and its academic programs.

“The University of Rhode Island would benefit from having a Board of Trustees entirely committed to exploring opportunities, addressing challenges and creating new economic opportunities and partnerships for the University,” the budget said.

The board will oversee employment, and the University’s property, purchases and procurement. The University president will report to the Board of Trustees.

Initially, the governor will appoint the 17 members, with the advice and consent of the Rhode Island Senate. The URI president will name one faculty member and one full-time student to serve in non-voting, ex-officio capacities. The chair of the Board of Education and the chair of the Council on Postsecondary Education will also serve as non-voting, ex-officio members.

Six of the members initially appointed will serve terms of three years; seven members initially appointed will serve terms of two years, including the member appointed from the list submitted by the speaker of the House of Representatives and the member appointed by the president of the Senate; and four members initially appointed will serve one year.