At the third Faculty Senate meeting of the academic year, the University of Rhode Island’s President Marc Parlange spoke about his first semester at the University, the vice provost updated the Senate on current applications for Fall 2022 and an update was given on the general education program.

Faculty Senate President Audrey Cardany opened the meeting by introducing the new Senate coordinator, Lisa Burbanay, to the committee, followed by a brief welcome from Senate Vice President Michael Rice. Following that, Cardany invited Parlange to speak.

Parlange said that during the first three and a half months of his tenure, he has gained a strong sense of the community in Kingston. He noted that his encounters with students, faculty and staff have heightened his experience thus far.

“Every day is a thrill for me,” he said. “I find out all the marvelous things that are going on at URI, and all the hopes and plans, and so it’s just a pleasure.”

According to Parlange, the University serves as an “engine” for the state of Rhode Island, where meaningful engagement and well-rounded support foster better opportunities for students.

He said further expanding URI’s doctorate program can build URI up as an esteemed university. He said that with coastal work as the centerpiece of graduate research, impactful changes will be promoted at URI.

“We have a lot of ambition, and there’s a lot to do,” he said. “Our Ph.D. Programs at the end of the day are the lifeblood of the research of the University. The Ph.D. program is not how the University makes money, but it is how we build our reputation for our academic accomplishments.”

Additionally, the president said URI is currently establishing a steering committee to develop a University-wide five-year strategic plan. Parlange believes that this will increase broad input, engagement and collaboration from a greater part of the community. 

Vice Provost Dean Libutti presented an enrollment management update which disclosed a variety of information concerning applicants and incoming URI students. The University reached a record number of applications in the fall of 2021, according to Libutti, who said that numbers exceeded 20,000. 

According to him, URI’s currently enrolled full-time first-year undergraduate students have an average GPA of 3.58.

Libutti said that while the University still has changes to be made, he is grateful for what he has seen thus far this year.

“We always have to look at the challenges and the improvements we can make to foster students’ success,” Libutti said. 

Rachel DiCioccio, director of the Office of Innovation in General Education, reviewed the 2020-2021 general education program and its accomplishments. She highlighted the inception of multiple newly approved general education courses, including three added Grand Challenge outcomes and eight more D1 outcome credit courses. 

DiCioccio said that the office’s greatest strides this past year were made in the area of program assessment. She said that trained faculty members were used to assess students’ work, therefore influencing the future endeavors of the general education program.

“At the present, my office is packaging the data and working to provide a summary of the results to the Faculty Senate executive committee and general education curriculum committee so that they can then interpret that information and determine program recommendations moving forward,” DiCioccio said. 

This report, according to DiCioccio, will be available this upcoming spring semester and will assist in identifying areas of improvement for the general education program. 

In the meantime, DiCioccio said her team will continue to revamp course offerings and incorporate diversity and inclusion into the curriculum.

At the end of the meeting, DiCioccio recognized Kristine Bovy, Emily Clapham, Doug Reed and Kimberly Page as the annual faculty spotlight recipients. Awards for excellence in general education were also distributed to Bovy and Cheryl Foster. 

The Faculty Senate will meet next on Dec. 9.