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Civic Engagement Focus of Promising Practices 2013

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, Rhode Island Foundation President and CEO Neil Steinberg and Johnson and Wales’ Providence campus President Mim Runey.

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, Rhode Island Foundation President and CEO Neil Steinberg and Johnson and Wales’ Providence campus President Mim Runey.

 

Rhode Island College is uniquely positioned to help the state address its workforce issues, including a widely identified shortage of skilled workers for available positions, according to President Nancy Carriuolo.

“Rhode Island College, since its inception has been devoted to Rhode Island and we’re really very invested in the institution’s outreach to communities,” Carriuolo said. “We provide many of the state’s nurses, teachers and social workers. We provide what I call the helping professions.”

Carriuolo spoke on a panel at Promising Practices 2013, which addressed how Rhode Island’s higher education institutions are working to help solve the state’s most pressing issues.

Carriuolo participated in the panel for the annual conference’s new plenary session, as part of this year’s conference theme, “Community and Civic Engagement.”

The panel also featured Providence Mayor Angel Taveras; Neil Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation; Mim Runey, president of Johnson & Wales’ Providence campus; Susan Follett Lusi, superintendent, Providence Public Schools; Anthony Maione, president and CEO, United Way of Rhode Island; and Donald Farish, president, Roger Williams University.

The discussion, which opened this year’s conference, allowed each panelist to comment on what the state’s higher education institutes can do to help Rhode Island recover from its flailing economy.

“There are many roles to play,” Taveras said. “We need help from everyone to avoid falling into bankruptcy. We have to make sure everyone knows that universities can be successful in (this) economy.”

As Carriuolo pointed to RIC’s long-standing reputation as an excellent incubator for some of the state’s most valued and needed professionals, Farish spoke about Roger William University’s commitment to making its students citizens of Rhode Island while they are here.

“Working in our community helps students develop relationships in the outside world,” Farish said. “If we can connect students to businesses and people in the state, some of those students will stay here.”

Lusi told the more than 300 Promising Practices attendees that she would like to see Rhode Island’s educational institutions become more involved in the Providence Children and Youth Cabinet. She also cited the need for greater advocacy for the importance of education.

“We try to fund programs that will help a group of people and to change the conversation at the policy level,” Lusi said. “If we’re going to do that, we need to have advocates with public officials. I think that is critically important.”

Promising Practices 2013 also included several learning sessions focused on the conference’s theme of how Rhode Island’s government, community organizations, businesses and educational institutions can develop better cooperative measures of creating a more socially and economically stable state.