Being a leader involves making tough decisions and really having a broad knowledge of the people under your care. It also involves being willing and able to take suggestions and to welcome help from others. These are things that Dr. Ray Rice, provost, and now interim president, of UMPI takes very seriously.
After President Linda Schott’s departure from the campus, Dr. Rice was named interim president. And, this year, he was renewed as interim president for another year. “The chancellor reappointed me until July 2018,” Rice said. The appointments run according to the fiscal year and not the academic year.
So, with this added responsibility that Rice has taken on, he has learned to juggle his duties as president and provost. But he doesn’t try to do everything himself. He credits Jason Johnston, interim dean of Arts and Sciences, and Barb Blackstone, interim dean of Professional Programs and Education, for helping with much of the work of provost. Johnston and Blackstone were formerly the chairs of their respective colleges.
Rice notes how different it is being in the position of president. “I always viewed myself first and foremost as a faculty member, as a professor,” Rice said. And although his workload will not permit it at the moment, Rice said that he would like to go back to teaching at least one course again. He said that next fall the campus will be looking for a permanent president, but there is nothing definite at this time.
Rice has taken his role as interim president with humility and a desire to do the best that he can. Dr. Deborah Roark, executive director for university advancement, said, “He’s very thoughtful in his approach.” She also explained that he works with everyone and is concerned with the campus in its entirety. “He considers various solutions,” Roark said. She also mentioned that he is concerned with the well-being of all of the students and will meet with them. “He’s very student focused,” Roark said.
Dr. Jacqui Lowman, chair of faculty assembly at UMPI, gets to talk to Rice on a fairly regular basis. She expressed how lucky the faculty are to have Rice as the interim president, and she feels grateful. Since she is the chair, she will have conversations with him about the faculty meetings. “I enjoy the conversations,” she said. “They’re always very wide ranging.”
Lowman also mentioned how Rice has really transitioned into his job as interim president. Going from provost to president is a huge step, but he has made it his job to really work for and with everyone on campus. “He truly is the president of everybody,” Lowman said. She has seen him grow through the years, and she expressed her gratitude. “I just think we’re incredibly lucky,” Lowman said.
Even though the position of interim president is not an easy job to carry out, Rice is more than up for the challenge. He credits a great team with whom he is able to work. And Rice has taken on the position of a leader. Roark said, “He practices what he preaches.” She also went on to say, “He leads from the front.” These are two valuable traits that UMPI needs in its leader. For the next year, may the campus continue to support and work with Dr. Rice as he continues his efforts to make our campus one that we can be proud of.