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SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — The new president of the University of Rhode Island, Marc B. Parlange, told the South Kingstown Town Council on Monday that after arriving in August he very quickly felt welcomed in the community.

Parlange had a brief meeting with the council before its regular meeting to introduce himself to local officials and emphasize the strong ties URI has not only statewide, but also in town.

“It’s important we think about the place we are and where we are going,” Parlange said.

Those ties go beyond South Kingstown’s role as a community that hosts URI students living off campus.

Parlange said he’s excited and encouraged by work URI is doing to expand the “Blue Economy” by doing research in aquaculture, underwater vehicles, offshore wind farms and coastal protection.

“In many ways the future of Rhode Island is blue,” he said.

He also touted URI’s robust agriculture programs, which operate from East Farm in town as well as other areas locally.

“We discovered the American bumblebee in Rhode Island, which is very important – the first time in seven years,” he said.

Parlange, a Providence native, said he’s eager to build connections with South Kingstown and other communities.

He’s gotten to know the town more by meeting with local groups and attending events such as the Kingston Chamber Music Festival, which he called “a lot of fun.”

Councilor Deborah Bergner thanked Parlange for addressing the recent issue of parking for Kingston Library patrons. Over the summer, it appeared the library might lose six valuable parking spaces because of a road rebuilding project on Upper College Road and the need for more student parking.

After some controversy and outcry from local library patrons and residents, URI agreed to make the six parking spaces at the nearby Gateway student apartments available for library patrons to use for the next year while a permanent solution is explored.

“Hopefully going forward we can maintain that positive relationship,” Bergner said.

“I love libraries, I’m always friends with the librarians at every university I’ve been,” Parlange said.  

Councilors Deborah Kelso and Rory McEntee said they hope Parlange’s tenure is a chance for a strengthening of the university’s relationship with South Kingstown.

“We collaborate in a number of ways,” Kelso said. “Part of our goal as a council is to expand on that. The town and gown relationship is very important here, and I look forward to continuing that relationship with you,” she said.

Kelso said she hopes the town and URI can meet in the spring to explore ways of further expanding the cooperation.

McEntee echoed those comments.

“You guys have a huge effect on the state but also on South Kingstown,” McEntee said. “Whatever we can do to help you be successful, we will do and we hope that you would do the same for us.”

A sports fan, Parlange also did some promotion for URI’s teams. He encouraged council members and the public to go to the school’s games.

“The men and women’s soccer games outdoors were a lot of fun. The women’s volleyball is doing great. We could use the support this weekend for a very important game against Fordham. If we win, we go to the tournament. And of course we look forward to seeing you for men and women’s basketball.”

(1) comment


Are Town Council members who work for the University going to recuse themselves from the discussions and votes that pertain to the University? Isn't there a conflict of interest?? Or are we going to continue to make backroom deals that go unnoticed?

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