KINGSTON, R.I — By leaving his post at Monash University in Australia to become the next president of the University of Rhode Island, Professor Marc B. Parlange is coming full-circle.
Parlange, a Providence native, will become URI’s 12th president on Aug. 1. He succeeds David M. Dooley, who joined URI in July 2009 and has overseen the school’s steady transformation, both academically and in its facilities.
The URI Board of Trustees announced Parlange’s appointment Monday night after a unanimous vote.
“I am honored and delighted for this opportunity to lead the University of Rhode Island,” Parlange said. “My life and career have taken me around the world, and to be coming full-circle here, back to Rhode Island where I was born, is especially meaningful for me. I have great appreciation for the transformational work President David Dooley has achieved, and a real sense of excitement and ambition for the future.”
He will take over Rhode Island’s flagship public research university, which is made up of approximately 17,000 undergraduate and graduate students, a budget of more than $800 million, four campuses and globally recognized programs in coastal and ocean sciences, environmental and ocean engineering, health care and health sciences, chemical and forensic sciences and cybersecurity.
Challenging times give URI a chance to provide leadership, Parlange said.
“We can stand out as an inclusive institution that creates new ways of learning and teaching, that pioneers innovative interdisciplinary research, and that, through its industry and public partnerships, is a major driver of the Rhode Island economy.”
Parlange also said he’s a fan of Rhody basketball.
“I’m looking forward to joining the community — cheering for the Rams, attending musical and theater performances, seeing what you create in the maker space, and learning about your life and experiences today at URI and in Rhode Island.”
The board chose Parlange from more than 200 applicants hoping to serve as URI’s next president. The board formed a Presidential Search Committee last fall that met throughout the winter to review applications and interview candidates.
“We were fortunate to have a wide and deep pool of extraordinary candidates, which is a credit to the leadership and vision that have transformed URI during the past 12 years and the incredible dedication and bold agenda of President David M. Dooley, and our faculty and staff,” Thomas M. Ryan, chair of the board’s Presidential Search Committee and a member of the Board of Trustees, said.
The search committee voted unanimously to recommend Parlange as the top candidate at its April 1 meeting.
“We thank the university community for its input, advice and counsel during this search process,” Board of Trustees Chair Margo Cook said. “The selection of a new president is the most important decision we have made as a new board. Ultimately, we sought and found what we enthusiastically believe is the right fit for URI — a president prepared for these challenging times, with an unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion and, importantly, someone who shares the university’s global vision.”
Ryan said Parlange exemplifies the four guiding principles the presidential search followed.
“He is an accomplished, visionary leader who has focused on student success and experience,” Ryan said. “During his career, he has advanced global scholarly research, navigated financial challenges, built strong industry partnerships and developed a depth of experience in creating more diverse and inclusive communities, especially for the most historically marginalized members of our society. Dr. Parlange’s leadership will accelerate the university’s already impressive trajectory. We found a champion for all faculty, staff and students, a president who can lead the university toward another transformational decade.”
Born in Providence to parents who emigrated from France and Ireland, Parlange will leave Monash, a public university based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, with an enrollment of more than 85,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
Prior to joining Monash, Parlange was dean of the Faculty of Applied Science at the University of British Columbia in Canada. He also worked for the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, serving as dean of its School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering from 2008 through 2013 and as director of the Institute of Environmental Engineering from 2004 through 2007. He has also held research and teaching appointments at Johns Hopkins University and the University of California, Davis.
On his Twitter biography, Parlange includes four things: His current position at Monash, plus the facts that he’s an engineer, a global water expert — and a runner.
Parlange has drawn international recognition for his expertise in environmental fluid mechanics. His wide-ranging research in hydrology and climate change addresses issues such as heat transfer in cities, energy dynamics in hurricanes and water resource challenges in remote communities, particularly in West Africa.
Parlange became a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering in 2017, and is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union.
He has received prestigious awards for his academic achievements, including an early career Macelwane Medal from the American Geophysical Union, the Dalton Medal of the European Geosciences Union and university teaching awards at EPFL and UBC. Parlange was awarded the 2020 American Meteorological Society’s Hydrologic Sciences Medal.
He has a master of science degree and Ph.D. from Cornell University and a bachelor of science degree from Griffith University in Australia. He and his wife, Mary, have two children, Brendan and Luc.
Gov. Dan McKee offered his welcome to Parlange on Monday.
“Throughout his years of service in higher education around the globe, Dr. Parlange has gained invaluable experience in innovative research, international relations, and inclusive leadership that will serve our state university well,” McKee said. “As a new governor, I look forward to working with Dr. Parlange as the university’s new president during this critical time for Rhode Island and our higher education community. Together, there is so much we can accomplish for the next generation of University of Rhode Island students.”