The Rhode Island Senate approved legislation to rename the Community College of Rhode Island’s Newport campus in honor of former Portuguese American Senate President Maria Teresa Paiva Weed.
The granddaughter of Azorean immigrants, she is the daughter of Arthur J. and Marie Paiva.
“Teresa is a trailblazer who has made a powerful, positive difference for our state, for her home community of Newport and for CCRI. Naming CCRI’s Newport campus in her honor is a fitting tribute for her many years of history-making service to CCRI and to our state,” said Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence).
Paiva Weed was first elected in 1992, Paiva Weed served in the Senate for almost 25 years. In 2009, she became the first woman to be elected Senate president. During her time in the chamber, she also served as majority leader and chairwoman of the Committee on Judiciary, the first woman to serve in these capacities in either chamber.
Paiva Weed earned a law degree from Catholic University. She was first elected in 1992 and served in the R.I. Senate for almost 25 years. She was the first woman in Rhode Island’s history to serve as President of the Senate, as well as Rhode Island’s first female Senate Majority Leader and Senate’s First Woman Chair of the Judiciary Committee.
In 2017, she resigned from the Senate to become president of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island. She is also the first woman to hold that post.
Paiva Weed opposed same-sex marriage and was known to block attempts to bring the issue before the Senate. She initially voted for civil unions on June 29, 2011, until the State approved final legislation for marriage equality.
Paiva Weed’s legislative accomplishments are vast and far-reaching. Early in her legislative career she spearheaded efforts to reform the state’s welfare system and was she was instrumental in the passage of legislation that changed the manner in which judges are selected to a merit-based process. In other landmark legislation, she established the property tax cap, created the Family Independence Act and restructured the Victims Compensation Fund. She championed green jobs legislation, education and job training initiatives, and legislation to improve the state’s business climate. She also championed funding for the relocation of the Newport Pell Bridge ramps.
As president of the Senate, Paiva Weed shepherded into law legislation to address the opioid overdose crisis. She supported a package of legislation to improve access to mental health treatment and preventative services, as well as legislation to reform the state’s sentencing and probation system.
“It would be difficult to overstate just how much Teresa has done for education at all levels and for CCRI in in particular, and who at the same time was so instrumental in the redevelopment of Newport’s North End. Teresa shepherded the education funding formula into law, helped refocus CCRI’s mission, and was a strong champion for the Newport campus and the city. She is a leader we should all be proud of, and this is a fitting tribute to her legacy,” said Senator Goodwin.
The legislation (2023-S 0442) is cosponsored by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence), Senate President Pro Tempore Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick), Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), Sen. Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln), Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton), Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), Sen. Walter S. Felag Jr. (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton), Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown) and Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston).
Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), the largest public, two-year, degree granting college in New England, is based in Warwick, Rhode Island. (CCRI), offers educational opportunities for all Rhode Islanders.