John Bender

Minority students and faculty are in relatively short supply at the University of Rhode Island, but efforts are underway to improve their numbers. Rhode Island Public Radio Education Reporter and Morning Edition Host Elisabeth Harrison sat down with URI's Vice President of Community, Equity and Diversity Naomi Thompson to talk about the challenges to increasing diversity on URI's campus.

RI State Police Crack Down on Underage Drinking

Sep 19, 2013
Flo Jonic / RIPR

State police are going all out this year to combat underage drinking. A task force has been monitoring places where underage drinking has historically been a problem.

State police Colonel Steven O’Donnell said a task force comprised of state, municipal and campus police has been formed to address the problem of underage drinking.   Since the beginning of September

they’ve investigated 30 nightclubs and several house parties near college campuses. Twenty-six people were summoned to appear in court on charges of alcohol possession by an underage person.

URI Prof: Signs Show an Improving RI Economy

Sep 16, 2013

A University of Rhode Island economics professor who tracks the state’s economy every month finds it was in good shape for the month of July.

Professor Leonard Lardaro says nine of 12 indicators he tracks are in positive territory.  The only lagging indicators are government employment, the size of the labor force and new claims for unemployment.

Overall, Lardaro said we’re heading into the second half of the year in a fairly strong position.

file / URI

The days are getting shorter, our cobalt coastline is cooler. The rhythms of fall return. In our cozy corner of New England, a timeless harbinger of the season is students thronging college campuses.

Behind the teary parental goodbye hugs and lugging the laptops to the dorm looms an uneasiness in the realm of higher education these days. Students loaded down with mountains of debt graduate into an uncertain economy. ``Do you want fries with that diploma’’ is the gallows humor of our age.

Even President Obama is talking about rising college tuitions as students return to campus. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay  talks about what this all means for our flagship public university, the University of Rhode Island.

The days are getting shorter, the breezes off our cobalt coastline are cooler. The rhythms of fall return. In our cozy corner of New England, a timeless harbinger of the season is students thronging college campuses.

University of Rhode Island Research Professor Alan Rothman, a specialist on viral diseases, has received an $11.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue his quest for a vaccine against dengue fever. URI officials say this is one of the largest grants ever received by a single URI researcher.

Dengue Fever, a mosquito-borne illness, affects an estimated 100 million people around the globe each year, mainly in tropical and sub-tropical climates. Rothman has been studying the disease in his laboratory at URI’s Institute for Immunology and Informatics.


The governor’s office is asking you, the public, about what it’s like to live and work in the Ocean State. Residents are being asked to speak their minds at a series of public forums this week.

The forums are part of an initiative out of the governor’s office called RhodeMap RI. It’s a project analyzing the state’s business climate and economic competitiveness. The goal is to travel across the state, listen to residents about what it’s like to get job, buy a home and get an education in the state, then use that feedback to develop policy.

Want to Go?

file / RIPR

Gov. Lincoln Chafee is recommending that the chair of the state Board of Education give up that position to become the state Commissioner of Higher Education. The appointment would be full time, but only temporary while the board conducts a search for a permanent commissioner.

The governor said he chose board chair Eva-Marie Mancuso because he believes higher education needs full time leadership at this time.

Mancuso says she is thrilled at the chance to lead the state office of higher education, a post with a $200,000 salary.


A biology professor at the University of Rhode Island is conducting an inventory of the types of seaweeds that grow in Rhode Island ocean waters. 

Seaweed may be an annoyance, but it offers vital clues into the health of an ocean.  That’s why University of Rhode Island biology professor Christopher Lane has embarked on a study of the slimy stuff with an eye towards learning how many species of seaweed exist in Rhode Island, and which are the most invasive.

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for a weekly business segment we're calling "The Bottom Line." Each Friday they look at business news and themes that affect local business and the public.

This week Dave and Mark talk URI professor Dr. Tony Wheeler, who directs the new URI Strategic Innovation MBS program in Providence.

They’re combing over the new state budget and what it does to boost the state’s economy. They also mull over whether Rhode Island should pay back the 38 Studios loan.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

The old South Street power station in Providence’s jewelry district has been vacant for well over a decade. But it’s about to get a facelift and a new life in the state’s higher education system.

Brown University has announced plans to re-develop the century-old South Street power station, also known as the Dynamo House, into a shared nursing education center and administrative offices.  The nursing center will be part of the joint nursing school run by the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College. The administrative offices will be used by Brown. 

A Rhode Island clothing and textile designer is looking to send his creations out of this world.  Karl Aspelund, a design professor at URI, is researching the apparel needs for travelers inspired by the 100 Year Starship Initiative. That’s a joint Defense Department and NASA mission to encourage travel outside our solar system. 

Rhode Island has lifted a ban on armed police forces at state colleges, after a Board of Education vote last night. The board’s new policy allows each state institution to make the decision about whether campus police officers will carry guns.

There is still no word from a University of Rhode Island student who’s been missing since Thursday.

21-year-old Matthew Royer was last seen leaving his apartment in Rhode Island on Thursday, he was heading back home to southeastern PA where he was supposed to start a job on Friday.

URI officials say the university reached out to Royer’s family on Saturday.

Chafee Calls for Review of URI Gun Scare

Apr 5, 2013

Governor Lincoln Chafee says he’s relieved and grateful that no one was seriously injured yesterday at the University, where a report of an active shooter on campus proved to be unfounded. The campus was on lockdown for about two-and-a-half hours.

The governor said in a statement the state will review what happened. He said the incident provides a unique opportunity to review emergency operations and  how the situation was handled.