2010 – a very good year for RIC

Faculty, administration and staff filled the newly renovated Donovan Dining Center and leaned over the railing of the top floor to listen to President Carriuolo’s Opening Coffee Hour address on Aug. 25, which began with greetings from Judge Frank Caprio, chair of the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education.

RIC President Nancy Carriuolo
Despite decreased financial support from the state (total state appropriation in 2010 was 36 percent of the college’s budget) and despite almost complete reliance on tuition and fees to run the college, Carriuolo managed to end the fiscal year with a balanced budget.

Carriuolo said that she absorbed the state appropriation shortage by changing the way the college did business.

In an article she wrote for The Chronicle of Higher Education published in April 2010, Carriuolo credited RIC’s faculty, staff and students for coming up with measures that helped save the college three-quarters of a million dollars.

The college also landed over $10 million in grants and research awards. The Office of Research and Grants Administration (with a staff of only two) was described by Carriuolo as “small but mighty.” This office amassed a total of 58 grants and research awards.

The RIC Foundation also acquired new donors whose contributions ranged from $1,500 to $208,655.

Even seeming bad news turned out good for RIC. Freshmen enrollment dropped by approximately 100 students and transfer students dropped by 60. “Last fall we had difficulty accommodating the record number of enrolled students,” Carriuolo said. The drop has actually brought equilibrium.

RIC also saw major improvements in facilities and safety in 2010.

“Facilities,” the president said, “play a powerful role in recruitment and retention.” One of her pet projects was to remove the old worn lockers in Craig-Lee Hall and replace them with seating for students.

In addition, the walls and railings of buildings have been repainted, elevators upgraded, unsafe stairways removed and new stairways installed. Thirty-seven emergency blue light phones safeguard the campus, and campus police can now be found on bicycles.

Associate Professor Randy DeSimone, right, is presented
Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Upgrades to learning spaces include eight classrooms converted to STEM classrooms and 20 other classrooms converted to e-classrooms. While renovations to the dining center near completion, work on the Recreation Center is set to break ground in the fall, and renovation of the Art Center is slated as a referendum on the November ballot.

Unlike many colleges around the country, none of RIC’s academic programs were cut despite shortages in state funding. Instead, RIC made its programs more “efficient” and “entrepreneurial,” said Carriuolo. New sources of revenue are also being mined in revitalized graduate and continuing education programs, while RIC’s established programs herald major successes.

In 2010 the School of Social Work’s B.S.W. and M.S.W. programs were reaccredited for the maximum eight years by the Council on Social Work Education, and the M.S.W. program was ranked 10th most selective in the country.

The School of Nursing received an Innovations in Professional Nursing Education Award from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The school also received $282,00 in special congressional funds to enhance its simulation lab. Another achievement for the school was the establishment within Rhode Island Hospital of the state’s only Dedicated Education Unit—a 37-bed unit called Bridge 7 devoted solely to RIC’s School of Nursing.

The use of technology in educating students took enormous strides in 2010. Almost 60 of RIC’s full-time faculty are experimenting with online course development and delivery. There’s also been a great migration of courses onto the Blackboard platform. Ninety percent of RIC’s undergraduates had at least one course using Blackboard in 2010.

Deborah Iannuccilli (left photo) and Delores
Passarelli (right photo) receive Presidential Awards.
A strong and consistent supporter of RIC faculty and staff, Carriuolo presented Associate Professor of management Randy DeSimone with the first Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching.

She also presented the Presidential Award for Excellence to professional staff member Dolores Passarelli, director of the Office of Academic Support and Information Services, and to support staff member Debbie Iannuccilli, senior accountant in the Office of Accounting.

New emeriti appointments were announced, new faculty and staff introduced and two new vice presidents acknowledged. This year Jim Salmo was appointed vice president for college advancement and executive director of the foundation, and Bill Gearhart has been named vice president for administration and finance. The college also appointed Alexander (Sasha) Sidorkin, a native of Novosibirsk (Western Siberia), dean of the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development.

Other news: Rhode Island College is looking to become a green institution. A "Green Team" was formed this year to examine how RIC's resources may be used more efficiently. The group is also looking at ways to build a green curriculum. Currently RIC offers a certificate program in green business management.

All in all, the RIC community should find a leaner, more robust and greener institution as they head into 2011.