SOUTH KINGSTOWN – The R.I. Board of Education has approved a new vice president for research and economic development at the University of Rhode Island, the school announced Thursday.
University President David M. Dooley appointed Gerald Sonnenfeld, vice president of the Clemson University School of Health Research and chief science officer of the Greenville Health System in Clemson, S.C., to the post.
Sonnenfeld is tasked with developing and enhancing the quality and visibility of URI’s research and business development programs.
“Discovery is one of the most important parts of a university experience. It is what makes a research university, like URI, very different from a college," Sonnenfeld said in a statement. “To make sure that URI, which is very competitive now, maintains and enhances its competitiveness we need to be entrepreneurial and think a little differently.”
Sonnenfeld has an extensive research background and has been awarded more than $14 million in federal research grants.
“Through his experience as a scientist and his accomplishments as an administrator, Dr. Sonnenfeld has demonstrated his keen knowledge of the processes to increase funding and to leverage university research, innovation and entrepreneurship for greater economic development,” said Dooley in a statement.
Sonnenfeld will arrive at URI in October, when he will take over for current vice president for research and economic development Peter Alfonso. Alfonso will stay on at the university as a tenured professor, teaching two graduate-level research classes and managing two research grants.