KINGSTON, R.I. – May 29, 2014 – The University of Rhode Island has appointed Ashaway, R.I. resident Kimberly Washor the first director of URI’s new Center for Career and Experiential Learning.
Washor now heads a center that for the first time integrates the missions of the previous Office of Experiential Learning and Community Engagement with the Office of Career Services and Employer Relations. The center will provide leadership in all aspects of career and experiential education, including support for faculty, students, alumni, and employers. It will also foster state, public and private industry partnerships related to employment, internships, and career development.
Jayne Richmond, dean of URI’s University College for Academic Success, made the announcement recently after the completion of a national search.
Washor, previously the URI director of Experiential Learning and Community Engagement, holds her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from URI and has been employed at the University since 1996.
She is also a liaison to the Governor’s Workforce Board, Department of Labor and Training, Rhode Island Student Loan Authority and URI Business Engagement Center.
In making the announcement, Richmond said, “Kim has been a driving force in the internship office since 2003, building it from a local internship program into one with more than 20,000 local and national opportunities for URI students. In her previous role, she developed a structure of liaisons who worked directly with the degree-granting colleges to ensure that opportunities for experiential learning were increased.”
Washor has been an important participant in the development of bRIdge.jobs, a new program of the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority and its College Planning Center of Rhode Island, which focuses on connecting employers and students in Rhode Island. The agency has joined with the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Board of Education and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce to bring together academia, business and community.
“Ms. Washor has continuously demonstrated exemplary leadership as part of the very successful bRIdge.jobs initiative,” said Charles P. Kelley, executive director of the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority. He counted among her accomplishments with the group: Completion of a manual for employers on how to develop and run a successful internship program; success in getting all 11 Rhode Island higher education institutions to approve and adopt the manual; and the launch of a successful internship seminar program in conjunction with the South County Chamber of Commerce, which just completed the last of eight seminars for employers around the state.
Job one for Washor in her new post will be to infuse the URI freshman experience with career preparation that will include early exposure to internships and other experiences outside the classroom.
“My goal is to provide a thread of career education throughout the curriculum so students are able to actualize what it is they hope to become based on a greater understanding of who they truly are,” Washor said.
Another priority will be to improve the University’s ability to gather job placement and graduate school acceptance data six months after students earn their bachelor’s degrees from URI. For more than 10 years in the internship program, Washor and her team have been using surveys to successfully capture detailed information from students and employers about the level of growth achieved by students, how supervisors interact with interns and how to improve the program for employers and interns. Now the challenge is to use similar tools to capture job placement information.
“We are in need of the data from the graduate survey to know how the learning experiences at URI influenced student career choices,” Washor said.