President’s mid-year review highlights accomplishments, future plans

RIC President Nancy Carriuolo addresses attendees of the mid-year review.
RIC President Nancy Carriuolo’s mid-year review opened with a student performance and closed with the words of students describing the positive role the college has played in their lives.

The event was held on Feb. 15 in the Student Union Ballroom.

After RIC junior Naysh Fox sang “Run Away with Me,” Carriuolo ran through a series of completed accomplishments and future projects in the areas of academics, campus facilities, grants, college development and admissions.

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Among recent academic achievements, Carriuolo cited an American Council of Trustees and Alumni survey that rated RIC one of the top two institutions in Rhode Island out of six surveyed, based on the strength of core curriculum requirements.

Asserting, “RIC educators make great leaders,” Carriuolo noted that RIC alums have been selected as 2012 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year, Assistant Principal of the Year, and 2012 Superintendent of the Year.

Last fall, an evaluation team from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), visited RIC to gather information and recommend the accreditation status for the college.

“We had a stellar NEASC review,” Carriuolo said, “with the concerns being ones that we all share – better financial support, improved facilities, and greater emphasis on telling our very good story.”

NEASC’s full report will be released this spring along with the accreditation decision.

The college underwent its first major general education revision since 1992, creating a new program developed by the faculty through a general-education task force. The program consists of 10 four-credit courses with new categories of First Year Seminars, Connections, Advanced Quantitative/Scientific Reasoning, Writing in the Disciplines, and Second Language Proficiency.

Gary Penfield also spoke at the event.
During the fall semester, the faculty also put into place many new academic programs:
• Nurse Practitioner track in the Master of Science in Nursing
• BA in Liberal Studies (under consideration by the Board of Governors)
• Certificate of Continuing Study in Green Enterprise Management
• Greatly enhanced GIS content in the revised Geography major
• Minor in Coaching
• Minor in Behavioral Neuroscience

In addition, a number of new academic initiatives are in development:
• Nurse Anesthetist track in the Master of Science in Nursing
• BS in Health Sciences with tracks in Human Services, Medical Lab Science, Respiratory Therapy, and Dental Hygiene
• BA in American Sign Language Interpretation
• Certificate of Undergraduate Study in Youth Services (hybrid)
• BA in Youth Development
• BA in Urban Studies
• BS in Early Childhood Education
• BS in Community Health and Wellness
• BA in Public Administration
• Renaming of Women’s Studies to Gender and Women’s Studies
• Teach for America Partnership Alternative Certification Program as an individualized master’s

Carriuolo also announced the launch of an online tutoring program this spring to supplement the work of the Office of Academic Support and Information Services (OASIS) program.

Campus Facilities
Many facility projects are underway, with some still ongoing. Among them:
• Recreation Center renovation and modernization
• Yellow Cottage interior construction
• Health and safety improvements, including new fire alarms, sprinklers, emergency generators and ADA renovations at several buildings
• HVAC overhauls for the Fogarty Life Science Building’s Microscope Room, Helen Forman Theatre, and new building air conditioning for Clarke Science Building
• Completion of Art Department temporary classrooms in Building 2
• A new organic chemistry lab for Clarke Science and two new biology research labs in Fogarty Life Science
• Renovations to restrooms at Donovan Dining Center
• Mid-campus telecommunications project

Two projects are set to begin this spring:
• Art Center Renovation
• New cooling towers that will provide new building air conditioning for Gaige and Whipple Hall

Governor Chafee's recently released proposed budget included funding for the joint nursing building ($65.2 million), renovation of Craig Lee Hall and Gaige Hall ($44.7 million), $1 million for infrastructure and $2.7 million to improve building entrances, exits and pathways for persons with disabilities.

Legislative approval will be needed for these projects, as will a bond requiring voter approval.

Grants, development and admissions
Carriuolo highlighted the success of the Office of Research and Grants Administration, which in the first 7 months of this fiscal year received awards totaling over $8.1 million – a 30 percent increase over the same period last year.

One grant – The Learning for Life initiative – will provide over $700,000 in federal funds to support non-traditional students seeking college degrees.

In the area of the development, the 1854 Society was established last fall to recognize 144 supporters of the college whose lifetime giving ranges from $10,000 to over $1 million. Grants secured since the fall include a total of almost $300,000 from the Champlin Foundations, the J.B. Fernandes Memorial Trust and the Rhode Island Foundation.

This spring, the college will re-institute the Gold Key Society, a select group of students who will serve as ambassadors for the college and hosts at major campus events.

Originally established in 1967 and disbanded in 80s, the new society is being organized under the President’s Office, where members will receive specialized training in leadership, protocol, etiquette and professional skills.

Though the enrollment numbers of undergrad and graduate students were down this year, the number of degree-seeking graduate students is up, as is the tally of Metropolitan Tuition Policy (MTP) students, which improves revenue. MTP students live within a 50-mile radius of the college and pay half of the normal cost of out-of-state tuition.

Looking forward, it was announced that admissions applications and admits for fall 2012 are up by about 50 percent, most likely because RIC now uses the common application.

In closing the review, several letters were read by Gary Penfield, vice president for student affairs. One was from Michelle Valletta, a 47-year-old RIC graduate student who is currently pursuing her master’s degree in history. Her letter, addressed to the NEASC accrediting association, closes,

“Rhode Island College is an institution that allows students to evolve with guidance from a passionate and dedicated faculty. As an undergraduate and a graduate student the faculty encourages me to work harder, think deeper, and achieve my personal best. So if you are interested in knowing how Rhode Island College is performing, take my comments as testimony of its accomplishments.”