Provost Brian Blake has withdrawn himself as a finalist to become the next University of Rhode Island president.
Blake told senior officials Friday that he withdrew his name from consideration in advance of the URI Board of Trustees’ special meeting held Thursday to decide between him and one other finalist for the role, according to an email obtained by The Hatchet. Blake said he had not fully weighed whether he would desire the role when he was revealed as a finalist last week.
“This public announcement came before I had a full opportunity to weigh the professional and personal aspects of leaving GW at this time,” Blake said in the email to senior staff. “I have now had that opportunity for discussions with my family and with my colleagues. As a result of these often heartfelt conversations, I concluded that there is much important work yet to be done at GW, especially as we emerge from the pandemic.”
Blake did not return a request for comment through a spokesperson.
Blake was revealed as a finalist alongside Marc Parlange, the provost of Monash University in Australia, out of more than 200 applicants, The Providence Journal reported. Blake said a search firm had “aggressively recruited” him, and he did not seek out the role on his own.
“I look forward to working with all GW’s stakeholders as we seek to address our immediate priorities and as we chart the path together to reach our academic aspirations,” Blake told staff Friday.
Before Blake arrived at GW, he told his alma mater that his career goal was to become a university president in five years, adding that he wanted to serve at a private university with a football team in a major East Coast city. Located in Kingston, URI has a Division I football team but is a public university.
URI’s student paper, The Good Five Cent Cigar, reported last week that Blake discussed at an open forum for the final candidates his plans to support diversity and inclusion, individualize the academic experience and build distinctive signature areas.