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Summer 2013

Team of Donors Steps Up to Help Improve Student-Athlete Facilities at URI Fans, alumni, parents, friends and student-athletes dig deep to support several projects URI student-athletes give their all whether competing on the courts, diamond, or behind the net. They do it for the love of their sport. The aesthetics of their surroundings are generally secondary, but recent efforts to make some improvements, for the benefit of these athletes, have been very well-received and are much appreciated by the students — no matter what sport they play. Thanks to a team of donors that includes fans, alumni, parents, friends, and student-athletes, who have generously reached deep into their pockets, four new or updated athletic facilities are now being enjoyed on the Kingston campus. These spaces, which often become a student-athlete’s “home away from home,” are also much-appreciated by the coaches and the athletics staff. “Having first class facilities helps our coaches recruit and retain the best and the brightest varsity student-athletes,” says Thorr Bjorn, director of athletics. “But equally important, we need to ensure that our current student-athletes know they are valued. These improvements help boost morale and instill pride in the University.” Story continued on page 2

The open-air tennis pavilion complements the eight tennis courts that were completed in 2011.

Alumnus Provides Unique Opportunity to Benefit Finance Students Supporting URI: Len Reinhart ’77 makes it possible for four students to attend MMI in NYC There are thousands of good paying jobs for students who earn a finance degree, according to URI alumnus Leonard “Len” Reinhart ’77 who retired in 2009 after a spectacular career in the financial services industry.

Len Reinhart (right) with student Daniel White.

This spring, Reinhart helped four URI College of Business Administration students discover some of those career opportunities firsthand by arranging their attendance at the annual Money Management Institute Convention in New York City and providing them with a booth — the only one, among those representing some of the biggest financial giants of our time, staffed by college students! He initiated the idea last year, bringing four other finance students to the convention and he plans to bring four more in 2014. Story continued on page 2

Also in This Issue: An Evening of Grapes & Grain...............3 Student Scholarship Recipients...........4–5 The Power of Matching Gifts..................6 New Endowments....................................6 Tax-Free Gifts from Your IRA.................6 Blood Center Scholarship........................7 Student Philanthropy Council.................8

Athletic Facilities Continued from page 1

Finance Students in NYC Continued from page 1

Here’s a rundown of the projects:

Reinhart helped found the Institute, a leading voice for financial services organizations. About 500 executives from such top firms as State Street, Fidelity, and J.P. Morgan attend the national convention.

Women’s Tennis Courts and Pavilion: The recently constructed open-air tennis pavilion, 80-feet-long by 32feet-wide, serves as a grand entrance to the eight tennis courts that were completed in 2011. The pavilion not only provides a retreat from the sun, its fixed tables and benches make it an ideal space for catered receptions. It’s a grand slam for women tennis aces and their fans. Two donors contributed more than $500,000 for the combined project. Baseball Batting Barn: A $350,000 baseball batting barn is a big hit with our men’s baseball and women’s softball teams. The indoor training facility, adjacent to the Bill Beck baseball field, provides players with three batting cages, three mounds, strength and conditioning equipment, and team meeting space. The 100-feet by 50-feet climate controlled facility was made possible by the generosity of two donors.

College of Business Administration Dean Mark Higgins selects the students who attend through a competitive process and meets with them several times in advance. “He encouraged me to be ambitious and look everyone in the eye,” says Ashlee Matthews of Providence, a student and 29-year-old working mother of three who will complete her degree this summer. “And I did. I met with as many people as I could and had meaningful conversations with them.” Prior to the trip, the dean and Reinhart prepped the students on what to expect and how to use the iPads they were provided with, by Reinhart, which were loaded with their resumes, the emails of all attendees, and a short, instant survey. “The survey was a perfect ice breaker to strike up a conversation,” says Daniel White, a 21-year-old student from Essex, Mass. who will be a senior this fall.

Women’s Volleyball Entrance and Locker Room: The hallway leading to the women’s volleyball locker room is bound to spike the interest of new recruits. The bright, cheery area showcases photos of past volleyball greats. New lockers, lighting, a wide screen television to analyze plays and a redesigned lavatory are part of the updates. The $135,000 project was funded over four years by parents of student-athletes and team members who held various fundraising activities. Men’s Basketball Locker Room Renovation: It’s a slam dunk that men basketball players will feel at home with the renovated space. A living room-like area with sofas, carpeting, and wooden panelling is set off by a mural montage of photos depicting the historic success of URI players and coaches. Sixteen new hardwood lockers personalized with photos of current players are just some of the enhancements. A dozen donors contributed $220,000 in gifts to the project. For more information on the various projects, contact Trueson Tarinelli at or at 401.874.7536.

URI students pictured at the recent annual MMI Convention in New York City.

“We could talk with executives and then send them our resumes on the spot,” says 25-year-old Thomas Lindroos, from Finland, who was a student-athlete playing for the URI soccer team before graduating in May.

Although the URI booth was one of 50, it didn’t go unnoticed. “Len was a huge help,” says White. “During any of his speeches to attendees, he reminded them to seek us out and offer advice.” The executives, many of whom have college-age children, had questions of their own about URI and the business college. Reinhart encourages the students to remain in touch. “He’s very approachable. Whenever I need help, I feel I can contact him,” White says. “The convention was an incredible learning experience for me,” says 21-year-old Austin Flon who shared his experiences with other members of the URI Stock Market Club, which he founded and serves as president of. “What a terrific benefit for our students to have someone like Len to go to for advice and counsel through the various stages of their careers,” says Dean Higgins. “I like to give back,” says Reinhart. “I entered URI as a C-plus student struggling with adolescent dyslexia and graduated an A-plus student at the top of my class. It was the first time I excelled in classes. After that everything became easy.”

The newly renovated men’s basketball locker room.

Reinhart’s advice: “We should ‘Think Big’ as the University’s brand suggests. Every industry has conferences. I would encourage alumni to send students to their annual meetings. It’s an inexpensive way for students to explore careers and network while highlighting URI at the same time.”

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“An Evening of Grapes and Grain” Provides Much-needed Support to URI Women’s Athletics Fourth-annual event raises a record $70,000 What do Carolyn Rafaelian, designer, founder and creative director of Alex and Ani; URI’s first lady, the Reverend Lynn Baker-Dooley; and Friends of Women’s Athletics have in common? Together, they raised a record $70,000 at the fourth annual An Evening of Grapes and Grain wine and beer tasting event held on the lawn of the President’s house on June 8th. Over 250 people turned out in support of the event, raising funds to support women’s athletics at URI. Rafaelian served as honorary chair of this year’s event; Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyards, Alex and Ani, and Teas and Javas provided lead support. “From the moment Lynn spoke to me about this event, I knew it was something I wanted to be involved with. I’m all for women helping women realize their goals,” Rafaelian said. Rowing coach Shelagh Donahoe said, “We set high goals for our women’s teams, and every dollar raised helps us to achieve these goals. Lynn Baker-Dooley’s commitment to women’s athletics is awesome!” South County Hospital Orthopedics Center was a premier sponsor and Nestle Nutrition was a silver sponsor. The Mews Tavern also provided sponsorship, as did Weedweavers of Wakefield, Coventry Lumber, Gencorp Insurance Group and the Thomas M. Ryan Center. The evening included a wide selection of fine wines and specialty beers presented by Wakefield Liquors, along with gourmet food samplings provided by area businesses including Mariner Grille, Wildwood Catering, Phil’s Restaurant, Meadowbrook Inn, Oscar Food Company, Breachway Grill, Lurgio Imports, Top Shell Grilled PizcLockwise FRom top: caRoLYn RaFaeLian (centeR), za Crusts, American LYnn bakeR-dooLeY, guests pReviewing auction items. Mussel, Kabuki and Bake.Eat.Love. URI Dining Services also supported the event. A silent auction, featuring nearly 60 artfully arranged donated basket items, was a very successful component to the event, raising over $10,000. To find out how you can help support women’s athletics at URI, contact Marnie Dacko at 401.874.7443 or

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Summer 2013

Student Scholarships: Private S Engineering and Poetic Devices Kevin Gemmell ’14 Ever since a high school teacher advised Kevin Gemmell to leave his comfort zone, he’s been on a journey of self-discovery. “Every time I try something different, I learn, evolve, and expand,” said the 21-yearold mechanical engineering student who is the first in his family to attend college. “I’ve always had a talent for math, science, and problem solving,” said the Southington, Connecticut native who was selected for a pre-engineering program in high school. When he enrolled in college, he considered taking pre-med courses but stuck with engineering, realizing he could make medical devices that doctors could use. He helped design an exoskeleton for the human leg at URI and expects to collaborate on a hip replacement project. Kevin, who will be a senior this fall, plans to earn a master’s degree in engineering or an MBA and one day start his own medical device company. Before transferring to URI, Kevin played lacrosse for the top-ranked Rochester Institute of Technology NCAA Division III team. He’s now a starting defenseman for URI’s Men’s Club Lacrosse. “It is one of the fastest games on two feet,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun to play, especially being surrounded by teammates who love the sport as well.” “Without the John J. Murray Memorial Scholarship, I would have had to take out a larger student loan,” said Kevin. “My education is very important to me and having this financial help and support from a donor to URI further strengthens my desire to learn. I am very appreciative.” The engineering student also, quite unexpectedly, discovered a passion for writing and performing poetry after watching a slam poetry video on YouTube. “It allows me to express my feelings while having fun manipulating sentences and using creative devices such as similes, metaphors, and wordplay. Writing poetry isn’t always writing about what you know; it’s using your knowledge and experience to explore the unknown,” explained the founder of URI’s Slam Poetry Club.

Patient and Healthcare Provider Samia Baig ’15 Because she is a Type I diabetic, Samia Baig already has years of experience in the healthcare system. With that background, it isn’t surprising she chose to study pharmacy so she could help others with the disease. “Pharmacy is an expanding field,” said the 22-year-old who was born in New London, Connecticut. “I feel I can contribute a lot from both a patient and healthcare provider perspective.” In her fifth year of the University’s PharmD program, Samia will explore many of the options open to pharmacists when she begins her rotations this summer: in California for a community rotation; Fall River, Massachusetts. for an institutional rotation at a hospital; Boston for an anesthesiology elective, which is the first of its kind offered at URI this year; Providence for two rotations at Rhode Island Hospital (an ambulatory care rotation and a general medicine rotation); and Washington, D.C. for a rotation with the Food and Drug Administration. “Studying and working hard is a priority for me,” she noted. “I could not be more grateful for the Hyman Fradin Scholarship that helps support my studies at URI. I am very appreciative.” But it’s not all work and no play. Samia participates in campus activities, which she sees as an important aspect of college life. She works and resides in the Women’s Center, belongs to the Student National Pharmacy Association, and occasionally volunteers for S.A.V.E.S., a volunteer organization, and the Student Entertainment Committee. In addition, she has served with URI Emergency Medical Services. As treasurer/secretary of the Muslim Student Association, Samia was pleased to see the University recently hire three new faculty members to teach a cluster of courses in Islamic and Mediterranean Studies. “Diversity is growing at URI,” said the honors student. “I am happy to be a part of it.”

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Support Creating Opportunity Veteran of Service

Woman of the World

Adam Church ’14

Mecca Smith ’13

Adam Church grew up Ledyard, Connecticut, enlisted in the U.S Marine Corps in 2005, and was deployed to Al Assad, Iraq the following year where he helped provide security for contractors delivering supplies throughout western Iraq. That experience shaped his life and his future.

Mecca Smith grew up watching a lot of television, particularly the Discovery and Travel channels, which brought the world into her living room.

He spent his remaining three years with the Marines in Japan where his wife, Nina, a U.S. Navy Musician Second Class, sang with the U.S. Navy Band. While there, Adam organized charity events for wounded service members. It was a positive experience, but he felt he could do more. When Nina was transferred to Newport, Adam saw a chance to make a larger contribution. He enrolled in URI’s kinesiology program and plans to remain in school to earn a doctorate in physical therapy. “I want to use my education and my Marine Corps experience to treat and rehabilitate wounded combat veterans who have sustained traumatic spinal damage or amputations. These are some of the most life changing wounds that represent a large percentage of modern combat injuries,” the 27-year-old honors student said. Adam was awarded one of the first W.J. Cummings Veteran’s Armed Forces Scholarships, established at URI in 2011 by William Cummings, a 1971 alumnus. “It’s an honor,” said Adam. “Not only has the scholarship provided me with financial assistance, which is very helpful, it has given me the opportunity to improve veterans’ services by serving on the URI Supports Veterans Committee — something very meaningful to me.”

“I always had a passion for studying other cultures,” said the 21-year-old Providence native who graduated in May. “But I never travelled outside of New England until I came to URI. The University definitely opened the global doors for me in a big way.” Mecca enrolled in courses that took her to Belize twice to shoot footage for a documentary film about sustainability there, to Nepal to participate in nonviolence training, and to Oaxaca, Mexico where she met with indigenous women and learned about their micro finance businesses. Her choice of double majors, cultural anthropology and film studies, reflected her interests as did her double minors: peace studies and leadership. “Peace is so universal and relates to any field of study, especially one with a global perspective. Leadership courses helped me gain skills in public speaking, negotiation, and mentoring,” she explained. A proud member of the Talent Development Program at URI, Mecca held prominent roles on campus as a peer advocate, a URI 101 Mentor, a tour guide, and a Harrington (School of Communications) Ranger. This spring, she received one of the two A. Robert Rainville Awards for Outstanding Leadership, presented to URI students who inspire and empower others. “The award meant a lot to me. I’m passionate about mentoring and giving back,” she said. Mecca also benefitted from scholarship support provided by the Citizens Bank Endowed Scholarship at URI, for which she was very grateful. “My Citizens Bank Scholarship made it possible for me to focus on my course work and not stress about finances,” noted Mecca. “It’s also allotted me the freedom and flexibility to get really involved on campus.” So what’s on the horizon for this recent graduate? “I’m taking a year off to travel and apply to graduate schools abroad to study visual anthropology and international development,” she replied. “Traveling abroad tied all of my studies together. Everything makes sense now because I have had the opportunity to apply it to the real world.”

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Summer 2013

More is better

New Endowments Created at URI

the poWer oF

The URI Foundation, on behalf of the University of Rhode Island, secures and encourages endowment gifts from alumni and friends of the university as a means of ensuring that a legacy of support for URI students, faculty and programs will continue and grow in perpetuity.

matching giFts

Over 20,000 U.S. companies match charitable donations made by their employees. The ratios of matching gifts range widely, with companies’ generally providing anywhere from .50:1 up to 4:1 — the latter reflecting an employer providing four times the value of the employees charitable gift! In the world of charitable giving, more, like the recent AT&T ad campaign suggests, is definitely better. At URI last year, alumni and other donors secured matches, made available by their employers, for over 450 gifts made to support the universitybenefiting every college, athletics and other areas including the Fund for URI, the President’s 21st Century Excellence Fund, Greek life, ROTC, club sports, Hillel, and various scholarship funds. The financial impact of the matches secured was significant! Nearly $260,000 in additional support came into URI — over and above the original gift values – in just the last year. And taking advantage of matching gifts is simple. Visit www.matchinggifts. com/uri/ to see if your company participates. If they do, it’s as easy as requesting a matching gift form from your HR office. Magnifying the impact of your generosity through the matching gift program is a fantastic way to make your gift touch more lives and impact more students! For information, contact Alma Halsband at the URI Foundation at 401.874.4786 or at ahalsband@ To the donors that make matching gifts a regular part of their support to URI — we thank you!!!

Endowment gifts are differentiated from immediately expendable gifts, as they become long-term investments which, through the earnings they generate, provide financial stability and consistent support over time. A number of new endowment funds were established at the University during the last fiscal year. Most of the funds were created to provide student scholarship support, while others will fund academic programming, and one will support an annual lecture. The new funds include: Timothy A. Coleman Memorial Scholarship Christine Anne Nowak Scholarship Irving Rubin Endowment Marlen Bodden Annual Lecture in Africana Studies Natale Jabour Nursing Scholarship ENFI Endowed Fund for URI Arts Students Janice M. Paton Endowed Scholarship

Elaine Moretti Riley/Homecare Advantage Endowment Cynthia and Thomas Sculco Nursing Scholarship Sarah E. Castagna and Robert Lee Tapley Scholarship Spiros M. and Niovi Constantinides Endowment Robert J. Alvine/Premier Suburu/ Kia of Branford, CT Scholarship John Simeone Endowment

For information on creating an endowment, contact the URI Foundation at 401.874.9530 or email

Don’t Miss Your Chance to Make Tax-Free Gifts to URI From Your IRA! The IRA charitable rollover legislation allows you to transfer lifetime gifts up to $100,000 using funds from your individual retirement account (IRA) without undesirable tax effects through December 31, 2013. What a great way to support URI! You may donate funds this way if: • You are age 70½ or older at the time of the gift. • You transfer up to $100,000 directly from your IRA. This opportunity does not apply to other types of retirement plans. • You transfer the funds outright to one or more qualified charities (including URI!). The legislation does not permit direct transfers to charitable trusts, donor advised funds, charitable gift annuities or supporting organizations. For more information, contact the URI Foundation Office of Planned Giving at 401.874.9530 or email

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Rhode Island Blood Center Creates Unique New URI Scholarship and Employment Opportunity siobhan harper ’14 is First recipient oF the scholarhip With URI Medical Laboratory Students in high demand amongst employers, new scholarship will help Rhode Island Blood Center access URI talent, while providing valuable financial support to students. The Rhode Island Blood Center recently established a scholarship at the University of Rhode Island to pump new life into career opportunities at their vital facility. The generous award provides $5,000 to a URI junior majoring in Medical Laboratory Sciences (MLS) plus a paid, parttime job at their main center in Providence — the latter making this scholarship quite unique. Kimberlee Gayheart, a human resources recruiter at the Blood Center, created the scholarship after having trouble finding certified laboratory scientists. The challenge she faced was that area hospitals have long-standing partnerships with URI, so many MLS graduates go directly into hospital careers. URI offers the only MLS program in the state. “We didn’t have a lot of visibility in the Medical Laboratory Sciences program as an employer,” Gayheart said. “I was looking for ways to get us more visibility.” While some graduates are struggling to find jobs, MLS graduates are entering a profession with a large vacancy rate and numerous career opportunities available to them. Unlike the professional who draws blood and the doctor who delivers the result, laboratory scientists are the people in between who you don’t meet. They’re licensed and certified to perform scientific tests in the medical laboratory. At hospitals, they conduct wide ranging tests essential to diagnostic and treatment procedures. At blood banks, they identify blood groups and match samples to determine and verify matches for transfusions and more. “We are behind the scenes,” said Siobhan Hopper, the first URI student recipient of The Rhode Island Blood Center Scholarship. “I was interested in the medical field and MLS sounded perfect for what I wanted to do, with its focus on research and testing.” URI Clinical Professor in Cell and Molecular Biology Greg Paquette described Siobhan as an ideal recipient. “She is an outstanding student academically as well as a highly engaged member of the University community,” he said. “I know that she will be an outstanding medical laboratory scientist and contribute significantly to the medical laboratory profession.” Siobhan, 22, is in her fifth and final year at URI as a double major in MLS and Microbiology. The Warwick resident was thrilled to receive the scholarship. “It’s a very large scholarship and, in addition, you get paid to work for them so it’s a really fantastic opportunity all around,” she said. And it is an opportunity that Gayheart believes will strengthen ties between URI and the Blood Center, which is the only source of blood and blood products for hospitals in Rhode Island.

siobhan haRpeR ’14

As for Siobhan, the recently ended academic year was a busy one. From September through the end of the year, she did a clinical internship at Rhode Island Hospital while working at the Blood Center and finishing coursework. At the Blood Center, she worked on plasma and platelets and a lot of her time was spent making sure the products were properly stored and prepared. The hands-on experience was invaluable to her. Asked what she likes best about the University of Rhode Island, Siobhan said, “URI is such a community. It’s like its own little town. There are so many opportunities and there’s always a lot going on. I had a well-rounded college experience and I feel very ready to go out into a career because the education I got here has really prepared me.”

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Summer 2013

Rhode Ways is published to showcase philanthropy and demonstrate the impact of private support at the University of Rhode Island. To learn more about the impact of charitable giving on URI students and the entire university community, visit For more information on anything contained in this newsletter, please contact Tracey Manni, managing editor, at 401.874.2145 or

Gifts should be mailed to:

Or Give Online:

URI Foundation PO Box 1700 Kingston, RI 02881

To make a gift that will have an immediate impact at URI you may give online by visiting

Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage

PAID Providence, RI Permit No. 3091

Executive Editor: Michael J. Smith Managing Editor: Tracey A. Manni Contributing writers: Jan Wenzel ’87, Ericka Tavares ’88 Contributing Photographers: Money Management Institute, URI Athletics, Kimberlee Gayheart, Joe Giblin, Nora Lewis, Tracey Manni, URIF (purchased stock)

Student Philanthropy Council Gets the Message Out Council to develop initiatives and host events The URI Foundation’s Student Philanthropy Council was created this past academic school year to help raise awareness among students and others about the impact of philanthropy at URI. “What better way to get this important message out to students than through other students,” said URI Foundation President Mike Smith. With a diverse and creative group of students on board, the Student Philanthropy Council (SPC) has already made strides in getting its message out by appearing at numerous student-based events and creating its own events and initiatives. The group was joined by Rhody the Ram at a “Thank a Donor” event earlier this year (pictured), during which dozens of URI students signed an oversized “thank you” card, expressing their thanks to donors supporting URI. The SPC also worked with the annual giving office to launch the 2013 Rhody Senior Challenge, which encouraged graduating seniors to consider making a gift to support their alma mater. SPC member Kevin Magee, a member of URI’s class of 2014, said, “Working with the SPC was a very rewarding way to get involved and to give back to the university.” He was one of more than twenty students who joined the newly established student organization this past year.

The Student Philanthropy Council with Rhody at the “Thank a Donor”event.

Look for new SPC initiatives and events to be hosted on campus throughout the next academic year! And Go Rhody!

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RhodeWays Summer 2013  

URI Foundation development newsletter

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