URI Announces Administrative Staff Promotions and Reorganization

Aug. 19, 2010

KINGSTON, R.I. -- Director of Athletics Thorr Bjorn has announced the latest changes to the senior administrative staff with the University of Rhode Island department of athletics.

This staff reorganization is part of the athletics department's ongoing new strategic plan. A committee made up of administrative staff and coaches have been working together toward developing new vision and mission statements, as well as a comprehensive listing goals and priorities.

"We are constantly evaluating our operation to determine that we are meeting the needs of our coaches and student-athletes as best as we can, while providing our University - its faculty, staff, student body and alumni - with exciting and competitive athletic programs in which they can all feel proud," Bjorn said. "I feel that these staff changes that have either been in place or in the works over the past 12 months will continue to elevate our level of service to our constituents."

In September, 2009, Sue Bergen was named the senior woman administrator in addition to her duties as the Associate AD for Business and Finance. In her eighth year with URI, Bergen is the department's chief financial officer, working with department heads, head coaches, and administrators in preparing the annual budget. She is also the sport administrator for the men's and women's soccer and softball programs, acts as the personnel liaison and represents the athletic department in both conference and national meetings and committees.

"Sue has a tremendous wealth of talent and expertise in the area of business management and accounting. She is an extremely valuable member of our senior staff and has done a wonderful job of building the athletic department's financial credibility throughout campus. Sue also has a tremendous appreciation for all 450 plus student-athletes at URI. She does a wonderful job ensuring our gender equity compliance as well as overseeing many areas concerning student-athlete welfare," said Bjorn.

Paul Kassabian was elevated to the role of Associate AD for Compliance. Beginning his 12th year heading URI's NCAA compliance office, Kassabian works directly for the University President and serves as advisor to the Director of Athletics regarding rules and eligibility issues for all 18 varsity programs.

"NCAA compliance is a constantly changing obligation and it is critical to have someone serving as our compliance officer who takes great pride not only understanding the regulations but also interpreting them in a manner to best serve the University, our coaches and our student-athletes. I think Paul has one of the hardest jobs within our department but he always puts our student-athletes first. He has also done a very good job of developing a compliance education program and encourages members of the campus community to also better their understanding of NCAA compliance," Bjorn stated.

Gina Sperry was promoted to Associate AD for Athletic Programs. In addition to serving as sport administrator for rowing, women's swimming and the men and women's cross country and track & field teams, Sperry also serves as the liaison to the University's academic support area.

"Gina has done a wonderful job transitioning from academic counseling to athletic administration. Her experience as a former head track coach, as well as her academic support background, makes her a tremendous asset to the both the coaches and student-athletes of the programs she oversees. During meetings or strategic planning sessions, Gina is always able to bring up what I will call a coach's perspective. She understands the challenges our coaches face because she served in that capacity," stated Bjorn.

Kim Bissonnette was named the Associate AD for Health and Performance. Now in his 20th year, Bissonnette's new duties include oversight of the strength and conditioning program. He continues to serve as the chief administrator in charge of the athletic training program, working primarily with the Rams' football team.

"In making this move, I think all our student-athletes are going to be very well-served through a coordinated and cohesive health and performance effort made up of strength and conditioning and athletic training. Kim's expertise in both areas will serve our student-athletes well for many years to come," explained Bjorn.

Most recently, Mike Laprey was promoted to the Associate AD for Communications and New Media. In his new role, Laprey will continue to oversee all aspects of the sports communications office, including the official athletics website GoRhody.com. Additionally, he will be in charge of all external web and multimedia efforts, video production, and advancing the social media efforts for the individual teams and the athletics department as a whole. Additionally, he will serve as the staff liaison to all television production and licensing.

"We are pleased to elevate Mike Laprey into this new role. He will continue to manage the media relations operation, while at the same time serve as valuable advisor to me in the area of media and even more importantly create new ways which will better allow us to tell our story in the new and changing world of information technology."