“Since my arrival in 2009, both Bob and Peter have been valued members of my leadership team and have worked tirelessly on behalf of the institution. They are among the University’s most dedicated advocates, supporting the University’s mission and goals with professionalism, integrity and camaraderie,” Dooley said.
“URI is a better place because of their efforts and they will certainly be missed in their current roles, personally and professionally. On behalf of the URI community, I thank them both for their hard work and dedication to make the University an extraordinary place for all of us.”
In his letter to the community, Weygand said he has been considering other opportunities that have been presented to him, including being on the faculty of his alma mater, and he wanted to make the announcement now to allow the president adequate time for a national search.
“I leave my position with a great sense of pride in our team and the satisfaction that we accomplished much during these years,” Weygand said. “The improvements we have made will serve the students and faculty for decades to come. As an alumnus, I am extremely proud of the University of Rhode Island because we dared to Think Big and we accomplished what we said we would do.”
Alfonso said it has been his privilege to serve as the University’s first vice president for Research and Economic Development. He expressed pride in his team and the University’s new Research Foundation, which is working toward the commercialization of URI innovations. Under Alfonso’s stewardship, external grants and contracts to URI for research have increased 40 percent.
Throughout his tenure as vice president, Alfonso has remained current in his research and teaching field of communicative disorders. An accomplished scholar in the field of speech acoustics, perception and speech physiology, Alfonso will assume a tenured faculty position in the Department of Communicative Disorders.
The University will conduct national searches to fill both vice presidential positions, which are part of the president’s leadership team.
Robert A. Weygand
Appointed as vice president in 2004, Weygand has served as the University’s chief financial and business officer during one of the University’s most dynamic periods of growth. The result of his leadership can be seen and felt by everyone as they walk onto the campus — in classrooms, offices, living spaces, labs, roadways, parking lots, and the newly designed green spaces.
He has overseen $500 million in capital development projects that have transformed the campus with the construction of state-of-the-art academic, residential and administrative buildings, including the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences, the new College of Pharmacy, the new Hillside Residence Hall, and the beautifully restored Taft, Lippitt and Edwards halls.
Weygand led efforts to strengthen URI’s financial and administrative functions and spearheaded the development of policies and procedures to ensure best practices across all areas of the institution. With his dedicated staff, he advanced the mission of the University through collaboration and transparency.
Before joining the University, Weygand had a distinguished career in public service. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Second District, from 1997-2001, served as lieutenant governor from 1993-1997, and was a state representative, 84th District, from 1985 to 1993. Throughout his years of service, Weygand supported policies and legislation that promoted high-quality public education systems in the state.
Prior to joining URI, Weygand was president and CEO of the then New England Board of Higher Education, working with presidents, provosts, administrators and chancellors of higher education institutions throughout the region.
Weygand has been a member of the Capital Center Commission, the R.I. Scenic Highway Board, chairman of the R.I. Land Use Commission, chairman and member of the East Providence Planning Board, and director of the East Providence Land Trust. He began his professional career as a landscape architect in 1973 for the R.I. Department of Natural Resources, and later founded his own landscape architectural firms in 1982 and 1987.
In May 2002, Weygand and his wife, Fran, established the Weygand Family Scholarship endowment for non-traditional, Rhode Island students attending URI. The seed money for the scholarship was made available through the remaining balance of a campaign fund, personal contributions, and a deferred gift of life insurance. Weygand was also instrumental in securing $1 million in federal monies in January 2000 toward a new Center for Environmental Studies at URI.
A 1971 URI graduate, Weygand holds four degrees from URI including a Master of Public Administration, Master of Arts in Political Science, Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater.
Peter Alfonso, Ph.D.
Alfonso was appointed as vice provost for research, graduate studies and outreach at the University in March 2006, and was named vice president for research and economic development the following year. In 2007, he helped to gain legislative support to create the URI Research Foundation to optimize the commercialization of intellectual property and create a more flexible research enterprise.
His deep knowledge and understanding of the role research universities play in bolstering a state’s economy through innovation, technologies, and job creation have positioned the University on an aggressive path for growth. In fiscal 2010, URI’s $105 million of funded research generated $174 million in economic output, creating more than 1,740 jobs in Rhode Island and generating $12.4 million in state and local tax revenues.
Alfonso’s team leadership led to significant advances in URI’s research enterprise, including a substantial increase in annual external grant and contract awards from $65 million in 2006 to $105 million in fiscal 2010.
Alfonso also developed research partnerships to strengthen URI’s position as a critical component of the state’s knowledge economy. In 2011, he was named co-chair of the R.I. Science & Technology Advisory Council. He has worked to leverage investments with these partnerships to hire more faculty, enhance opportunities for research and development, and provide a richer student experience that ultimately translates into preparing our state’s and nation’s workforce for the future.
Alfonso came to the University with nearly 30 years of research, teaching and administrative experience. Previously, he served as vice president for research at the University of North Dakota and president of the UND Research Foundation, as associate vice president for research at the University of Tennessee, and as associate vice president for research at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He also holds a number of public and private sector science advocacy positions, including service on the executive committee of the NASULGC Council on Research Policy and Graduate Education, and the board of directors of the EPSCoR/IDeA Foundation.
During his tenure at the University, Alfonso served as a professor of communicative disorders in the URI College of Human Science and Services.
Alfonso earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut, a master’s from Western Michigan University, and a doctorate from Purdue University. He has published more than 130 book chapters, articles and abstracts on speech acoustics, perception and speech physiology. He is a 1990 Fulbright Research Scholar and a fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.