URI president announces plans to step down

Posted on
KINGSTON, R.I. — September 15, 2008 — University of Rhode Island President Robert L. Carothers formally announced today that he would end his 18-year tenure at the University as of June 30, 2009. Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education Chair Frank Caprio joined him in making the announcement.

“It has been a great honor to serve a great university, a feisty and creative institution which, as William Faulkner put it, has not only survived but has prevailed,” said Carothers to a standing-room only crowd. “Despite being under-funded since 1892, the University of Rhode Island is always thinking big and the results show.

“It is time, in my view, to bring new energy and a new perspective to the very significant challenges ahead,” he said. “The additions to our senior staff last year give me great comfort in turning this institution over to a terrific senior leadership team. Now of course, our commissioner for higher education, Jack Warner, and the chair of the Board of Governors, Frank Caprio, now have the challenge of keeping the momentum going and of searching for, courting and eventually securing the next leader of this University.”

“The average tenure of a college or university president is about eight years,” said Caprio. “Here in Rhode Island, we have been blessed to have a president who has led our state university – and led it very well – for 18 years. President Carothers’ tenure has been marked by a number of significant achievements that have made URI a better place during his time here,” he said and briefly outlined some of the highlights of Carothers’ tenure.

CVS/Caremark Corporation Chairman and CEO Thomas M. Ryan was named to chair the search committee for the University’s 11th president.

“As a proud alumnus of URI, as a great supporter of the University, and as a good friend – thank you for all that you have done and continue to do to help make URI the great and wonderful place that it truly is,” said Ryan, who graduated from URI’s College of Pharmacy in 1975. “I am honored and pleased to serve as chair of the search committee for the next president of the University of Rhode Island.”

Ryan announced that the search committee is representative of the University community and the State of Rhode Island. It includes several members of the Board of Governors including Tom Rockett, consultant and freelance author who retired from URI in 2000 as vice provost and a member of the Board’s Academic & Student Affairs, and Government Relations Committees; Brenda Dann-Messier the president of Dorcas Place Adult and Family Learning Center, an adult literacy center located in Providence and chair of the board’s Academic and Student Affairs Committee; and Dan Ryan, CPA a principal with the Providence-based accounting firm Kahn Litwin Renza & Co., Ltd. and a member of the board’s Personnel, Finance & Management committees. Board of Governors Chair Frank Caprio will serve as an ex-officio member.

Faculty representatives are Celest A. Martin, associate professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing; Jim Miller, professor of Ocean Engineering; Wendy Roworth, professor of Art & Art History and Frank Annunziato, executive director of the URI chapter of the American Association of University Professors. Brandon Brown will serve as URI’s student representative.

Winnie Brownell, URI Dean of Arts and Sciences, and Thorr Bjorn, URI director of athletics will represent the administration. Domingo Morel, academic advisor for the University’s Talent Development Program, will represent the staff; Michael Fascitelli, a prominent URI alumnus, will represent the alumni and the URI Foundation; and Saul Kaplan, executive director of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, will represent the larger Rhode Island community.

“President Carothers has done a wonderful job building and shaping our state university into a model of excellence on many different fronts,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Jack R. Warner. “URI’s academic reputation is at an all-time high, the University’s renewed commitment to academic research is attracting more outside and federal funding, and the face of the campus is changing significantly as new, state-of-the-art buildings are constructed and come on-line. But there are many challenges ahead as well including how best to move the University forward in a period of declining state support.”

Carothers became URI’s 10th president in 1991. Since then, he has made improvements in the University’s structure, infrastructure, and curriculum. As a result, the University has become known as a preeminent public institution for higher education. During his tenure, the university has increased enrollment by about 33 percent; gained support to invest nearly $700 million in buildings and improvements at all four of its campuses; increased the diversity among students, faculty and staff; become recognized as a “College with a Conscience;” enhanced its levels of alumni and private support; and increased the University’s endowment funds almost 800 percent, from $12 million to about $95 million.

Prior to his arrival at URI, Carothers was chancellor of the Minnesota State University System, which included seven universities and 64,000 students. Before becoming chancellor, Carothers served as president of Southwest State University. He has the unique distinction of being a poet, lawyer, scholar, and administrator.

Read the remarks made by President Carothers.

In the News

Search begins for new URI president – Providence Journal, RI – Sept. 16, 2008

Ryan to lead search for new URI president – Providence Business News, RI – Sept. 16, 2008

URI President Robert L. Carothers -9/16 John DePetro’s PODCast, WPRO News Talk 630AM

CVS chief to lead search for new URI president NBC 10 WJAR, Sept. 15, 2008

Carothers to step down after nearly two decades as URI president
Providence Journal, RI – Sep 14, 2008

The University of Rhode Island is known locally and worldwide for its innovative, big ideas, adaptive intelligence and breakthrough solutions to today’s puzzling problems. URI’s pioneering research extends the University’s influence well beyond its coastal borders, while its unique interdisciplinary courses provide its 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students with global opportunities in an intimate environment.