July 25, 2007
KINGSTON, R.I. - The University of Rhode Island today appointed Thorr D. Bjorn as its 11th director of athletics. Bjorn comes to Kingston after spending about 15 years at the University of Massachusetts, where he rose to the role of senior associate athletic director.
URI President Robert L. Carothers introduced Bjorn to the University community at the Ryan Center.
A three-year letter-winner for the Minutemen football program, Bjorn's experience at UMass was in progressively more demanding roles, serving as the school's interim director of athletics from September 2003 to February 2004.
At URI, the 39-year-old Bjorn will oversee an athletics operation that has 22 intercollegiate sports. He will play critical roles in budgeting, fundraising and marketing for athletics, while serve the best interests for Rhody's approximately 500 student-athletes.
Bjorn has a five-year contract with URI that will pay him a $165,000 annual salary.
"We are immensely pleased that Thorr Bjorn has accepted our offer to lead URI's athletic program," Carothers said. "In addition to a strong record of success in marketing and fundraising at the University of Massachusetts, Thorr shares our values with regard to integrity and respect for his colleagues in athletics, our faculty and students, and the fan base so important to URI."
Carothers said the search, chaired by Bob Beagle, vice president for University Advancement, was intense and thorough. "We were very impressed with his energy, skill and commitment to run a strong and ethical program that puts students first." Carothers stated.
Bjorn will begin his duties officially in two weeks, but he said the work starts today.
"I'd like to thank President Carothers, Bob Beagle, the search committee and everyone I met during my interviews on campus." Bjorn said. "Everyone truly made me feel special and like part of the family. That's what has me so excited."
"There were very few places that would have lured me away, and URI was on the top of that list," Bjorn said. He said he realized that the entire University community values athletics because of its place in the $100 million "Making a Difference" URI capital campaign.
From the president to the overall University community, raising money for a new student-athlete development center is a priority. That kind of support tells me that URI is serious about its athletics program." Bjorn added.
Bjorn said his first priority will be to meet personally with athletic staff and coaches. Beagle lauded the search committee for its meticulous efforts in finding an individual who would be the best possible - and the most appropriate director of athletics - for URI at this point in time.
"The search committee was excited about Thorr from the time he had his telephone interview with us," Beagle said. "His enthusiasm, knowledge, dynamic personality, and his considerable skills became even more evident when he visited campus."
Bjorn earned his bachelor's degree in sports management from UMass in 1990, following with a master's degree in higher education from his alma mater in 1995.
He met his wife Cyndy at UMass, and the couple has three daughters, twins Stephanie and Robyn, 10 and Rachael, 7.