This semester, the University of Rhode Island welcomed Dr. Jeannette Riley to the administration as the new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Riley spent the past five years working at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and is a joint professor in English and gender and women’s studies, working in post 1945 American Literature with an emphasis on women writers and feminist theory.
“I sort of have this theory,” Riley said. “That every five to seven years there should be a change in Deans. It’s good for the institution and good for bringing in new ideas… I had done a lot of great things with the college and brought it to a certain level.”
When searching for a new position, Riley said she was drawn to our university. “URI has been on an upward trajectory in the last ten years in terms of its programs, quality of its students and not only what it’s doing for just the state but also in terms of being a nationally recognized research university,” said Riley.
Riley received a joint appointment with URI and is tenured as a faculty member. “I will be teaching GWS in the spring,” said Riley, “I hope to teach once a year to be able to engage with the students.”
Riley likes to teach courses at the undergraduate level because it exposes her to wide range of students. She will have a spring section of GWS 150 and says throughout her time here would like to alternate between ENG and GWS lower-level courses.
When addressing allegations of budget cuts in specific departments, Riley explained that the college had been undergoing deficits.
“It’s completely fixable,” said Riley. “But it did require us to make some adjustments to budget allocation at the start of the year as a way of ensuring the College has the resources it needs.”
“I pulled back from every department 10 percent,” said Riley, “which in the grand scheme of things is a very small amount.”
Riley hopes to make future improvements to the budgeting process. “In the future I will be working with the Chairs of each department to set the budget,” Riley said. “It is my goal—as they know—to free up funding so that we can invest in programs, student programming and events, as well as faculty research.”
More than anything, Riley says she is “trying to create ways to strengthen what the college does, and sometimes to strengthen you have to centralize your budget to use the resources more efficiently across the College as a whole.”