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Just four months into his presidency at the University of Rhode Island, David Dooley has big plans for his school — plans he hopes will include Brown.

Dooley's vision includes increasing collaboration on research opportunities — sharing research sites and equipment, for instance — and academic cooperation, including possibilities for cross-registration between the two schools.

"When I came in, it looked to me like Brown and the University of Rhode Island could do a lot more together," Dooley said.

But "nothing specific is being explored at this time," President Ruth Simmons wrote in an e-mail to The Herald, and administrators have not had talks on campus about cross-registration or other initiatives.

Dooley, who said he left his position as provost of Montana State University with a mission to bolster URI's reputation for research, wasted no time in approaching Brown administrators with his proposals.

"We had a very, very productive meeting that involved me, President Simmons and members of our senior leadership teams, where we discussed what we saw as opportunities for us to work together, and what the potential might be," Dooley said.

According to Provost David Kertzer '69 P'95 P'98, the meeting at Simmons' house, which took place a few weeks ago, was a dinner in honor of Dooley's arrival to URI and not specifically a session to strategize about collaboration.

The gathering was "a nice thing Ruth did to welcome a colleague," he said.

The basis of the proposals for increased collaboration, Dooley said, is to expand the already high level of research cooperation between the universities. Faculty members from both universities have already worked together not only on research projects but also on proposals for federal funding that have benefited both institutions, he said.

Research collaboration so far "has been very successful and very productive," Dooley said.
Kertzer said transforming the Jewelry District into a "knowledge district" to house research and health institutions is appealing to both Brown and URI because such a research park would contribute positively to Providence and Rhode Island.

In an interview with the Providence Business News last week, Dooley said URI's plans to build its own research park near its Kingston campus had to be put on hold because of the economic downturn and a dispute over the proposed location.

Dooley told The Herald he would also like Brown and URI students to benefit from joint curricular programs.

"I don't know if that's something that can work or not, but I think it's worth exploring," he said.

Brown already has joint curricular programs with a few other schools, including the Brown-Rhode Island School of Design five-year dual degree program and the Brown/Wheaton Faculty Fellows Program that sends Brown graduate students to teach at Wheaton College, where they are mentored by Wheaton staff. Students who wish to take languages not offered at Brown can also register at other schools under certain circumstances.

"Recently, Brown has been collaborating more and more with other universities," Kertzer said.

According to Kertzer, URI does offer courses in areas such as pharmacology, marine research and nursing that Brown students might be interested in taking. But because of the distance between Brown's campus and URI's campuses around the state, Kertzer said joint curricular programs might make more sense for graduate students than for undergraduates.

The next meeting for administrators from both universities to discuss collaboration will probably be in January, though a date has not yet been set, Kertzer said.

"As the two research universities in Rhode Island — as close as we are together — we might find ways to partner that would benefit both institutions," Dooley said. "We have programs here that are very strong that complement the programs at Brown, and Brown obviously has a set of programs that is complementary to what we're doing here at URI."


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