PROVIDENCE – The University of Rhode Island plans to increase its presence in the state’s capital city, according to President David M. Dooley, as part of a strategy to better prepare its students for success as well as help Rhode Island’s economy grow out of the hole it is in.
Dooley spoke at a breakfast reception for media held at the Rhode Island Foundation’s offices in Providence, and he used the location to highlight the commonality that he feels with foundation President and CEO Neil D. Steinberg, whose Make It Happen RI initiative has jumpstarted a number of economic development plans in the state.
The university “shares a sense of urgency about rebuilding the Rhode Island economy,” Dooley said, adding that “if someone is on life support, urgency is needed – and Rhode Island’s economy is on life support.”
He pointed to three focuses that URI has identified to help the state economy grow. First, the school is re-tooling its academic programs, with an eye on making the educational experience the best possible.
Second, it is growing the amount of research being done. He said that Rhode Island, as well as the United States, needs more high-wage jobs, and university research is one of the sure ways to drive that outcome.
Lastly, Dooley pointed to a growing presence in Providence as a plus for the school and the state. “The economic heart of the state is” in Providence, he said. For that reason, URI moved its MBA program to its downtown campus. It is one of the four partners of the Founders League, a replacement to the defunct Rhode Island Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship that URI, along with Betaspring, Brown University and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, will use to offer community, space and programming for entrepreneurs of all stages.
Looking forward, Dooley said that the Harrington School of Communication and Media is considering making one year of its program locate to Providence, where the media and marketing industries (and their clients) are located to a large degree. He also reiterated his interest in building a joint nursing facility/research space with Rhode Island College in the Knowledge District downtown, a project many believe could be a catalyst for large-scale development of biotechnology and life science enterprises in the city.