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Monday, June 24, 2019

URI gets its own board, thanks to Sosnowski

Proposal for separate URI board included in budget bill

Image result for sue sosnowski and URIThe budget bill passed by the House of Representatives includes the creation of a Board of Trustees for the University of Rhode Island.

The provision, initially proposed in separate legislation (2019-H 6180, 2019-S 0942) sponsored by House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello and Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski, would move the state’s sole university out from under the auspices of the Council on Post-Secondary Education, which also oversees Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island.

URI President David M. Dooley testified in support of that bill, saying URI needs its own board to ensure that decisions affecting it are made with an eye toward its mission and to provide greater agility in hiring and making other decisions.

The move was recommended by the New England Commission of Higher Education when it reaccredited the university last year, saying URI’s needs as a research institution and economic driver for the state are unique among the state’s public institutions of higher learning, and that the board has a potential conflict of interest with the university in its efforts to unify services at the state’s three public higher education institutions.

“URI is our state’s flagship university. We should give it the structures it needs to support its development. A dedicated board of trustees is typical among universities, and provides institutions with flexible, responsive governance. This is a move that would help URI grow and improve, and I’m proud to help bring it about,” said Speaker Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston).

Senator Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham), whose district includes URI’s Kingston campus, said, “URI is a world-class university, and needs to be positioned to be competitive with its peers. Greater self-governance means it can ensure that all decisions affecting it are made with its specific mission and purposes in mind, and will help ensure that those decisions are effective in moving the university forward.”

The legislation establishes a 17-member board of trustees with staggered terms. Initially, the members would be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. As the initial terms expire, nine members would continue to be appointed in that manner, and the other eight would be appointed by the board itself.

The budget bill (2019-H 5151Aaa) passed the House of Representatives today, and now goes to the Senate.