I take very seriously any breaches of University or Board of Governors (BOG) policies, procedures and regulations – whether intentional or unintentional, before my tenure or since I came to Rhode Island. I strive to hold myself and all members of the University community to the highest professional standards. The work of URI is too important for all of us here at URI not to expect that of our community. And, we must continue to be transparent, forthcoming, and accountable regarding our finances, administrative relationships, policies, and activities. To that end, I have decided to take the following steps:
• I have decided to retain an outside consultant to conduct a systematic and comprehensive review of the partnerships, collaborations or relationships that the University has with outside organizations. This assessment will ensure that such partnerships and their associated administrative procedures, including those related to employee status and benefits are consistent with current URI and Office of Higher Education (OHE) policies, as well as applicable best practices in higher education. The University has numerous collaborative relationships with outside organizations as part of its mission to serve students, Rhode Islanders, and the nation. This review can further strengthen those partnerships while providing guidance on future collaborative efforts.
• To avoid any perception of conflict, we will choose a consultant with no affiliation to URI. He/she will be someone with experience with higher education and with the kinds of relationships that develop between universities and external parties. We will adhere to board and URI policies in retaining this consultant. I will announce this individual as soon as he/she is brought on board.
• Obviously, it is in no one’s interest for the University of Rhode Island to cease partnering or collaborating. It is inherent to our mission of service and education and indispensable to our success. Not surprisingly, we are contacted regularly about possible collaborations from organizations ranging from non-profits to major corporations. Therefore, while the review is underway, proposals to establish a collaboration or relationship with an outside entity will go through my office to be shared with the consultant. This process will ensure that appropriate policies and procedures have been followed.
• Additionally, the university will hire outside counsel to assist our current staff attorney with all the work associated with the IIS situation and to represent its interests related to the IIS investigation itself. Counsel will manage, coordinate and provide legal guidance to the University. The BOG will oversee and approve the outside counsel hired. I want to emphasize that we have not been informed of any legal action against URI or its employees, but this step is nevertheless necessary in order to protect the interests of the institution. I will announce the counsel once a decision is made.
• Finally, I remain committed to an independent examination of the University’s relationship and transactions with the Institute for International Sport. As I have stated previously, we will not compromise the ongoing investigation by the State Police. Our own important review will proceed once the work of law enforcement is complete.