Carriuolo updates faculty and staff at RIC Opening Meeting

At this year’s opening meeting on August 26, RIC President Nancy Carriuolo provided faculty and staff with a state-of-the-college message about ongoing educational, technological and structural advances in the face of a struggling economy that continues to stress the college’s bottom line.

In a time when state funding for RIC’s budget has dipped to under 40 percent, and the college continues to receive millions less in state appropriations, Carriuolo noted that the college saved money wherever possible last year, and has begun implementing ways to generate income.

RIC President Nancy Carriuolo, left, and Brenda Dann-Messier at the
Opening Meeting.
“We must be visible, entrepreneurial, convenient, accommodating, and accessible in order to earn the money that we need to be more self-sufficient,” said Carriuolo.

One area that will both save and raise money is through the rental of campus space. Noting that the college can no longer afford to give away meeting space to outside users, Carriuolo said that RIC’s offices, auditoriums and other venues would instead generate revenue.

Last year, the Athletics Department brought in $80,000 worth of rental income using its fields and facilities. Following that example, the college is developing a self-service online Event Management System that will standardize use and service fees for college-wide facilities.

During the 2008-09 academic year, Carriuolo’s first as president, she said that RIC had obtained a record $10.48 million in grants through the Office of Research and Grants Administration. “That office is small but mighty,” Carriuolo said, also praising the “inspiration and hard work” of 30 principal investigators who received 65 federal, state and private foundation grant awards.

“RIC is rapidly becoming a teaching institution with an impressive research component,” Carriuolo added.

On the subject of enrollment, Carriuolo pointed to the success of the college’s recently expanded Metropolitan Tuition Policy (MTP), which began this summer. Students who live within a 50-mile radius of RIC are now eligible for a tuition discount of the in-state tuition rate plus 50 percent.

Previously, only students from Massachusetts who lived within a 20-mile radius of the college received the discount. Carriuolo said the most recent admissions report showed that the expansion of the MTP program has resulted in a net gain of an additional 141 non-Rhode Island students so far.

Judge Frank Caprio addresses the gathering.
Judge Frank Caprio, chair of the Board of Governors for Higher Education, told the gathering that he had recently met with Governor Carcieri and got confirmation that higher education will not be part of the furlough program in which state workers will be taking mandatory days off without pay.

“The key to a better state, better quality of life, better health is education,” Caprio said. He challenged everyone to make the case to the General Assembly on the importance of education.

“There needs to be an assault on the Legislature this year. I am prepared to go down and do it,” Caprio added.

Also at the meeting, the Athletics Department received a Community Partnership Award for the volunteer work of its student athletes at Dorcas Place, an adult literacy center in Providence. The award was presented to athletic director Don Tencher by Brenda Dann-Messier ‘73, president of Dorcas Place. Dann-Messier in turn was lauded by Carriuolo for recently being nominated assistant secretary of vocational and adult education in the U.S. Department of Education.

Carriuolo announced that RIC has been approved as a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs magazine. “We expect to welcome many student veterans to campus next week under the benefits provided by the new G.I. Bill,” she said.

“My basic message is that we are the state’s high quality comprehensive college. We educate the professional class of Rhode Islanders. Rhode Islanders are birthed by award-winning RIC-educated nurses, who go on to tend to them in illness, and help them gently pass on at the end of life. Rhode Island’s children learn from teachers who are RIC grads. Rhode Islanders experiencing personal issues are supported by RIC-educated social workers. We also provide the state with business leaders, scientists, novelists, screenplay writers, actors, and so forth. Eighty-seven percent of our students are Rhode Islanders. Invest in us.”

– RIC President Nancy Carriuolo, in her Opening Meeting remarks
She also noted that the School of Nursing was selected by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to receive an Innovations in Professional Nursing Education award.

Among RIC’s recent accomplishments Carriuolo cited the establishment of the DeStefano Fund, named after Anne DeStefano ‘66 and her husband Bob. The fund supports summer research projects for faculty members and students.

Carriuolo also cited the Pathways to College partnership with Mt. Pleasant High School, which 19 students completed last spring, with all 19 now enrolled in four-year colleges, including 13 at RIC.

Carriuolo touted the new RIC marketing tagline – Reach, Inspire, Connect – as well as the “I Am RIC” media campaign featuring many successful alums of RIC.

Carriuolo called the new “telephony” project “a part of our improved business-like image.” Instead of going to voice mail, callers to the college will have the option of speaking with a real person. In addition, a new call center will allow calls to be answered more efficiently during high volume times. The system is expected to be fully operational next June.

Adams library will be implementing four new technological advances, according to Carriuolo: ARTstor, a digital library that holds nearly one million images; Digital Commons, a digital repository that will provide access to archives, student theses, research documents and more; Ebrary, an online database collections of 45,000 books and other documents; and LibGuides, web-based tools to enhance collaboration between librarians and classroom faculty.

RIC faculty and staff at the Opening Meeting on August 26.
The college will soon move forward on a major renovation of the Recreation Center, which opened 20 years ago. “Enrollment management studies have long shown that a high-quality recreational facility is one of the key decision points for the recruitment and retention of students,” said Carriuolo.

The project’s design phase is expected to begin shortly into the new academic year, with construction set for the spring.

Carriuolo said that RIC has begun the process of re-invigorating its graduate and continuing education programs by hiring deans and by “providing an accessible, attractive presence on the Web and on the campus.”

Looking ahead, Carriuolo said that several initiatives are underway. RIC will be preparing for its 10-year New England Association of Schools and Colleges institutional reaccreditation self-study for submission in spring 2011. The college’s five-year Strategic Plan, for which a final draft will be submitted to her in November, is being formulated with feedback received from the RIC community. And a 10-year Campus Master Plan for physical development of the campus is also in the planning stages, with selection of a consultant awaiting state approval.

“RIC is still a college of opportunity, a college of academic quality, despite the economic times that we find ourselves in,” Carriuolo told the attendees. “I thank you for your energy, flexibility and good humor as we struggle to remain so.”

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