Dr. Robert A. Silvestre began his community college journey in 1964 as one of Rhode Island Junior College’s 13 founding faculty members. He started out as an instructor of science, mathematics, and pre-technical education and Chairman of the Biology Department. He retired in 2002 as Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Dr. Silvestre earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and a Ph.D. in aquatic ecology (limnology) from the University of Rhode Island before starting his career at CCRI. He also completed courses at both Harvard and Oxford University.
During his 38-year career, Dr. Silvestre served as Chairman of the Biology Department, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Dean of Instruction and Vice President for Academic Affairs. While always fiercely passionate about teaching, he was dedicated to offering the best possible college education to the Rhode Island community at an affordable price. In addition, he was committed to having the college stay current with emerging trends, technologies and developing career tracks, and he was firm in his belief that the community college should help to serve the needs of the surrounding business communities.
Throughout his career, Dr. Silvestre provided direction and leadership for all of the campus credit programs and for new course offerings at the college’s satellite locations. He is credited with establishing the Associate Degree in Nursing program at a time when these programs were in their experimental stages. He established the Dental Hygiene, Radiology and other Health Science programs, and he was instrumental in creating The Center for Business and Industrial Training. In addition, he designed the biology and chemistry labs at the Knight Campus in Warwick, the Flanagan Campus in Lincoln and the Liston Campus in Providence.
As a lifelong competitive athlete, Dr. Silvestre brought his love of sports to the community college by serving as RIJC’s first baseball and soccer coach. In 1974, he was named New England’s Coach of the Year. In 1995, he was inducted into the college’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Outside of CCRI, Dr. Silvestre was as long time member of the Providence Central Lion’s Club and served as President during their 50th anniversary. He was a member and past President of the New England Technical and Community College Council. While on the council, he was instrumental in streamlining NEASC accreditation standards for two-year colleges. He also served as a board member of the East Greenwich Yacht Club and the Italian Historical Society.
After his retirement, Dr. Silvestre joined the CCRI Foundation as a trustee, and established the Robert A. Silvestre Scholarship to support a student studying foreign languages or biology.
Dr. Silvestre is a resident of Lincoln and a board member of the ProvPlan, a nonprofit organization with an academic component that strives to improve the social and economic future of Providence. As a dedicated lifelong learner, he is currently continuing his studies of the Italian language and culture and lecturing on the Italian Unification and the Renaissance artist Caravaggio. He spends his free time taking classes, boating, skiing and volunteering for every event at the Lincoln Elementary School that is associated with his grandsons.
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