Winnie Brownell says this semester will be her last at URI

Winifred Brownell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, decided  she will retire from her position on June 30 of this year.

“I think it’s time to pass the baton to the next generation,” Brownell said. “I just think we’ve accomplished a great deal together and I think it’s time for the next generation to have the opportunity to move the college forward.”

She assured that she is not leaving due to poor health or any other negative reason. Brownell sees the university and college at a good time to make a transition to a new dean and a new generation of ideas.

Adam Roth, interim director of the Harrington School of Communication and Media, said he is not surprised by Brownell’s retirement.

“Dean Brownell has committed her life to URI and has served the University for 46 years,” said Roth. “She has had an incredibly long and illustrious career at URI, first as a star faculty member, then serving in various capacities as an outstanding administrator.”

Over her 46 years at the University of Rhode Island, 18 of which were spent as the dean, Brownell has had a great deal of influence in the College of Arts and Sciences. One of her many legacies includes the creation of the Harrington School of Communication and Media which has just opened its ‘Hub’ in Ranger Hall this past fall.

“I think together as a community we’ve accomplished a great deal,” Brownell said. “Depending upon the new dean and his/her interests and ideas, there will probably be new initiatives that will develop pretty quickly.”

Brownell has conveyed her decision of retirement since this past August while the position has only recently been posted on Human Resource Administration. A national search has begun and applicants will be accepted through mid-March.

While the announcement has been in the making for nearly six months, Roth said it is reasonable that the job posting took so long.

“I don’t think they’ve taken any longer than they usually do,” said Roth. “It takes some time to process all the paperwork and begin to draft the advertisement for the position and then get it posted. The search committee works together to make this happen.”

Included in their application, all applicants must provide a resume, cover letter and references but they also must provide a, “Vision Statement on research, academics, creative arts and outreach.”

When she retires, Brownell is hoping to put forward more effort into the boards and organizations she is a part of including the Rhode Island Historical Society, the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, the Board of the Harrington School of Communication and Media, the Board of the International Engineering Program, and the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

“I like helping others, I particularly like helping young people pursue their dreams,” Brownell said. “Which is why I chose education as a career. So whatever I do I’m sure that’ll be one of the values I continue to work on, helping the next generation to excel.”


Correction: In an article about Dean Winnie Brownell’s retirement, wording in the article made it seem as if the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Associate Dean/Director of the Harrington School were the same position. This is incorrect, they are two independent positions conducting separate searches for candidates at this time. We are sorry for any confusion this mistake has caused.