URI appoints veteran professor, administrator to head its College of Business Administration

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Kingston resident assumes Alfred J. Verrecchia-Hasbro Inc.

Leadership Chair in Business

KINGSTON, R.I. – September 12, 2006 – Longtime University of Rhode Island Accounting Professor Mark M. Higgins has been named dean of the University of Rhode Island’s College of Business Administration and the Alfred J. Verrecchia-Hasbro Inc. Leadership Chair in Business.

In making the appointment, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs M. Beverly Swan, said Higgins has shown through his administrative work, teaching and community service that he possesses the intellect, resourcefulness and energy to be successful.

“Mark has a long and productive history at the University,” Swan said. “He is committed to the college, has a vision for the future and will be a strong leader inside and outside of the University. He understands the greater mission of URI and the role it plays in the economic development of the state. His unique perspective will help him lead the college and position it as a leading business school in the region.”

Higgins said he is honored to serve at the helm of the college because he will be working with leading alumni like Alfred J. Verrecchia, president and chief executive officer of Hasbro Inc. and Richard J. Harrington, president and chief executive officer of the Thomson Corp., who have been great supporters of the college. The atrium at the transformed Ballentine Hall is named in Verrecchia’s honor and the large conference room adjacent to the dean’s suite is named the Thomson Boardroom in honor of Harrington’s and his company’s commitment to URI.

“As an accountant, I am thrilled to have been selected for the leadership chair since Al holds his accounting degree from URI, as well as an MBA,” said Higgins. “In fact it was while Al was a student here that he had an internship at Hasbro that led to his great career.

“Al and many others like him, such as Dick Harrington, who leads one of the largest information companies in the world, are great role models for our students. Like them, I have a passion for URI, and I believe strongly in its undergraduate mission and also in our outstanding graduate programs. This is the perfect mix,” said Higgins, who is entering his 19th year at URI.

Higgins succeeds Edward M. Mazze, who served as dean from July 1998 through this summer, and who has joined the faculty.

The new dean said that support from the $1.5 million Verrecchia-Hasbro gift, which established the chair, helps keep URI at the forefront of business education. “Part of the funding supports a dean’s discretionary fund, which allows me to support promising initiatives and programs that help us respond quickly to changing trends.”

Associate dean for undergraduate programs for the past two years and director of the master’s program in accounting for 12 years, Higgins said the business college has an excellent faculty, a world-class business center in Ballentine Hall and outstanding students that have allowed the college to raise standards.

“Last year, we offered three honors classes, but this year we are offering six,” said Higgins, who worked at Ernst & Young in New York from 1981 to 1985. He left the firm as the tax manager.

“Beginning with this freshman class, students who want to be admitted fully into the college must earn a 2.7 grade point average in their business core courses and a 2.5 overall. The previous standard was 2.4 for both categories.”

A certified public accountant, he tells parents and business students that all business classes are offered in state-of-the-art Ballentine Hall, where class sizes range from 35 to 40. “At some of the big state universities some introductory accounting classes have 200 students. We are offering a private school education at public school prices,” said Higgins, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from the University of South Carolina and his doctorate from the University of Tennessee.

“Our accounting program is more than 50 years old, and we have achieved 100 percent job placement since the year 2000.”

Currently the president of the American Taxation Association and a member of the Northeast Region of the American Association of Accounting Hall of Fame, Higgins said all of URI’s business programs graduate students who can compete with any in the country. It is the only business program in the state that offers bachelors’, masters’ and doctoral programs.

Higgins wants to re-energize the international business program through a strong collaboration with URI’s International Engineering Program, and he intends to forge strong links to the colleges of Pharmacy and Environment and Life Sciences so that business students can gain an understanding of the biomedical and biotechnical fields. He also is moving forward with a golf management program, which would be the only one of its kind in the region. The Pennsylvania State University is the closest school to offer such a program.

Higgins’ research has been published widely in professional and academic journals and he is the co-author of the textbook, Concepts in Federal Taxation, which is in its 13th edition. He has also served as a technical tax consultant to The Providence Journal’s Neil Downing, who writes the “Moneyline” column.

A season ticket holder for URI men’s basketball and a supporter of other athletics programs, Mark and his wife Ann are busy in the community with their three children, Will, 18, Dan, 15, and Tommy, 12. He has been a coach with the South County Youth Soccer Club for more than 10 years, as well as a basketball coach in the South Kingstown recreation program. He is a lector at Christ the King Church and has served on its finance committee.

Higgins said he looks forward to building on the exceptional legacy of Mazze and Business Professor Frank S. Budnick who served as dean prior to Mazze’s arrival. “I would like to continue building on the outstanding foundation set by Ed and Frank. Frank was the catalyst behind the transformation of Ballentine Hall and Ed brought it to the finish line.”

URI News Bureau photo taken by Michael Salerno Photography