The Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education made the announcement Monday night. Dooley succeeds Robert L. Carothers, who steps down on June 30 after 18 years as URI's president.
URI is a land-grant institution with a fall 2008 enrollment of 15,904. Its main campus is in Kingston, approximately 25 miles south of Providence, the state's capital, and five miles from the Atlantic coast. URI has three other campuses around the state.
"Given Dave's great academic leadership at Montana State University, it is not surprising that he's become a president," said MSU President Geoff Gamble. "This is a wonderful opportunity for Dave. Though we will miss his dedication and talents, we wish him well."
Dooley, 56, was selected from a group of three finalists for the position after a nationwide search which attracted 55 candidates.
"Provost Dooley's track record at Montana State University, especially his championing of research funding, was outstanding as was much of his earlier work at Amherst College. He has a reputation of being someone who can unite people toward a common purpose and lead as well as inspire them toward that goal," said Frank Caprio, Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education chairman.
Dooley came to MSU in 1993 as the head of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. In 1999, he was appointed interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. He was appointed permanently to the post in 2001.
"I am delighted to have been selected as the next president of the University of Rhode Island. Lynn and I were very impressed by the faculty, students, and staff that we met, as well as the leadership team of the university. We strongly believe it is the right place for us at this time," Dooley said. Dooley's wife, Lynn Baker-Dooley, is a Baptist minister. The couple has two grown children, Christopher and Samantha.
Prior to coming to MSU, Dooley had taught at Amherst College from 1978 to 1993. He had a concurrent faculty appointment at U Mass Amherst from 1984 to 1993, the two schools being only miles from each other.
During his service as provost at MSU, Dooley oversaw several significant advancements:
MSU now defines itself as dedicated to the integration of learning and the discovery of knowledge, and has made substantial progress towards the goal of becoming known for substantial, high-quality research and excellent undergraduate education.
MSU developed a nationally recognized, innovative core curriculum and greatly expanded its research and creative activity.
New opportunities for faculty development were created, such as the Short-Term Professional Development Leave and the BEST program, which gives tenured and tenurable faculty opportunities to pursue research and creative activities
MSU also developed several new academic programs, including doctoral programs in neuroscience, ecology and environmental science, computer science, and history; master's programs in Native American studies and in science and natural history filmmaking, among others, as well as undergraduate programs in liberal studies, American studies, paleontology, and bioengineering.
The university also became more globally oriented, with many new partnerships and programs that provide study-abroad opportunities for MSU students and that also serve to bring international students to Bozeman.
Dooley earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of California in San Diego and a doctorate in chemistry from California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
Dooley has published over 140 peer-reviewed scientific papers (over 50 since he became provost) and has won more than $12 million in research funding during his career. He was awarded a doctorate in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1979.
"Lynn and I will miss Montana State University and the great people who make it such a wonderful institution," Dooley said. "MSU has a great future because of the people who are here, and we will always wish them and the university the very best."
The Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education Office of External Affairs contributed to this story.
Contact: David Dooley, MSU provost, 406-994-4373