Updated: March 30, 2021 at 5:08 p.m.
Provost Brian Blake has been named a finalist for the position of university president at the University of Rhode Island.
Blake attended a remote public forum Monday, where he answered questions from URI officials about his past experience and qualifications for the position, The Providence Journal reported Tuesday. URI’s current president, David Dooley, will step down from his position in June, and Blake said he did not seek out the role on his own.
“Although I did not actively seek this opportunity, I was aggressively recruited by a search firm and agreed to explore whether this position was a good fit,” Blake said in an email. “As the process proceeded, I came to believe that there was a unique fit with my background, experience and passions. Therefore I decided to see where this might lead.”
He added that he expects URI to make a final decision in the “next few weeks.”
“While this process plays out, I remain fully committed to our collective priorities as we conclude the spring term and look to a new normal in our operations for the summer and fall,” Blake said.
A second finalist for the job was scheduled to be interviewed Tuesday, The Providence Journal reported.
“Blake said he grew up in Savannah, Georgia, a small city that resembles Providence in climate, proximity to the ocean, interesting architecture, graceful neighborhoods and pirates in their past,” the Journal reported. “His wife fell in love with Providence, he said, and he sees great potential for growth in the URI system.”
The university announced a 16-person search committee for the role in October, according to The Good Five Cent Cigar, URI’s student paper.
URI did not immediately return a request for comment.
Blake, who began serving as provost at GW in November 2019, said he has spent the past year working to improve the University’s academic offerings and connecting with students and faculty during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This post has been updated to include comments from Blake.