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RhodeWays the impact of private support at the university of rhode isl and y summer 2014

Acclaimed Journalist Peter Lord’s Legacy Inspires Students at URI student ryan wichelns named inaugural lord scholarship recipient


unshine Menezes got to know awardwinning environmental writer Peter B. Lord when she took over the reins of the Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting on the Narragansett Bay Campus nearly a decade ago. She remembered having a bad day at the start of her tenure when an email message popped up. It was from Lord and it said, “I believe you will be fine. In fact, I’m sure of it.” Menezes printed his message and stuck it to her desk. All these years later, the tape is frayed but Lord’s words still Peter B. Lord providence journal photo remain. And still inspire. Lord, who passed away in 2012, had a talent for bringing out the best in others. He inspired the journalism students he taught on the Kingston campus and the professional journalists who visited the Metcalf Institute for science and communication training. His wife of 36 years, Mary Ann Lord, said he enjoyed getting students excited about writing and helping them to reach their potential. In his memory, she created the Peter B. Lord Environmental Journalism Scholarship. “The reason I established the scholarship was a simple decision. He just loved teaching at URI,” she said. “The enjoyment he had with the students and the rapport that they had!” As the first co-director of the Metcalf Institute, Lord was a role model for countless journalists. As Ted Nesi of WPRI-12 reported upon Lord’s death, “Rhode Island has lost one of its finest reporters.” Lord spent 30 years at the Providence Journal after starting as a reporter at The Day in New London, Connecticut. His six-part series on the public health consequences of lead paint, which he wrote for the Journal in 2001, is credited with prompting changes in state regulatory rules. Lord, who earned his master’s degree in marine affairs from URI, won first-place awards from many professional groups including the federal Environmental Protection Agency and

the New England Associated Press News Executives Association, which honored him with the Master Reporter Award in 2005. For his writing he traveled as far as the Arctic Circle, Central America, Scotland, and Hawaii. The first Peter B. Lord Environmental Journalism Scholarship was awarded this past academic year to junior Ryan P. Wichelns of Saratoga Springs, New York. Wichelns is so passionate about the outdoors that in the past five years he has reached the summit of all 46 Adirondack mountain peaks greater than 4,000 feet. In August, he summited Mount Rainier in white-out conditions. “It meant a lot to be recognized like this,” Wichelns said of the scholarship. “I would love to be able to explore outdoors and then share it with people through writing. Looking back on some of Peter Lord’s writing, it’s the kind of thing I can really look up to. The fact that pursuing what I want to do was made a little easier for me, in his name, means a lot and is a real honor.”

Lord Scholarship recipient Ryan Wichelns, right, climbing with a friend. a publication of the uri foundation z 79 upper college road, kingston, ri z 877.874.4555 z

Students Help Celebrate Ryan Family Student-Athlete Complex Opening


Cathy and Tom Ryan are joined by students and fellow donor and URI alumnus Anthony Rose.

he URI community recently celebrated with a number of generous donors, including URI alumnus Tom Ryan ’73 and his wife Cathy, Anthony Rose ’54, John ’82 and Meg DeCubellis and members of the Wicks and Winter families to mark the long-awaited opening of the Ryan Family Student-Athlete Complex on campus. The 8,000 square foot Complex serves the more than 400 student-athletes at URI and includes the Eleanor Carlson Strength & Conditioning Center, the Anthony J. Rose Athletic Training & Sports Medicine Center, the Katie DeCubellis Memorial Foundation Student-Athlete Academic Commons & Advising Center and the Winter Family Foundation & Wicks Family Champions Gallery. Donors provided $2.5 million for the renovation project. For details on the new facility, visit RyanStudentAthlete.

The 2014 Rhody Senior Challenge: Seniors Giving Back


very spring as they’re poised to become the University’s newest graduates, members of the senior class are asked to join thousands of other alumni in giving back. The Rhody Senior Challenge offers members of the Class of 2014 the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to their alma mater at the onset of becoming alumni. Thanks to the energizing efforts of the University’s Student Philanthropy Council, awareness about the importance of student giving has never been higher. “We’ve been trying to create a culture of giving back,” said Council Student Chair Chip Redihan, who is himself a member of the Class of 2014. “This is how we, as new alumni, can connect and help future students in the way that we have been helped. It’s a way to pay it forward.” The Council’s members are a motivated and diverse group of student volunteers who work throughout the year to help foster a spirit of giving with awareness and fundraising activities such as the inaugural “I ❤ URI Week” in February. By sowing the seeds of giving on campus, the Council members hope that supporting URI will become a habit when students become alumni and move into their careers.

how to give to the university F To make a gift that will have an immediate impact at URI, give online by visiting Gifts can also be mailed to URI Foundation, PO Box 1700, Kingston, RI 02881.


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Twenty-five Years of Supporting URI independent insurance agents of rhode island provide scholarships to business students and library funding


niversity of Rhode Island accounting major Matthew Bertelli spent spring semester in Rome, meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds, traveling through Europe, and challenging himself to become a citizen of the world. “Spending some time away from home is important for a business student since the business world has become highly globalized,” he said. “Living outside your element and starting from scratch with new people in a new place has been an exciting, rewarding challenge. I might not have been able to embark on my semester abroad if not for financial support, considering it is more expensive than my average semester at URI.” A junior who is passionate about the Italian language and culture, Bertelli was able to go to abroad in part due to a scholarship from the Independent Insurance Agents of Rhode Island, which has been underwriting business student success at URI for a quarter of a century. “The Independent Insurance Agents of Rhode IsURI and IIARI representatives gather with Mike Smith, URIF, center left, land’s 25-year record of support has made a meaningful and Mark Male, IIARI, center right, for the organization's most recent and measurable impact at the University,” said URI Founcheck presentation. dation President Michael J. Smith, noting the significant A state association representing 200 small businesses with quarter-century milestone that the organization has reached. 1,500 employees, Independent Insurance Agents of Rhode Island The organization’s $25,000 gift to URI last winter brings its recognizes that being able to locate talented, capable and compecumulative annual support to more than $527,000. Another aptent employees is a constant challenge, according to Mark Male, preciative scholarship recipient is marketing major Molly Jaffe, association executive vice president. who plans to graduate in three years instead of four. She has a 4.0 “As a small business in Rhode Island, we understand the imGPA, a job as a resident advisor, and an internship. She is presiportance, value and significance of an educated workforce,” Male dent of Phi Eta Sigma, vice president of Best Buddies, and treasaid. “For many in our state, college is an unaffordable dream. Our surer for Kappa Delta. long term commitment to URI, as well as to Rhode Island College “It is such a wonderful feeling to be rewarded for my hard and the Community College of Rhode Island, is a way for us to work and dedication to academics,” she said of the scholarship. give back to the community and hopefully take some of the pain “The support is a great motivator and reward for my continuous out of financing an education and make it a little easier for some efforts.” students to obtain a first class education.” The gift from the Independent Insurance Agents of Rhode The group’s support couldn’t be more crucial for the recipiIsland funds two purposes. It provides undergraduate scholarents who are planning for careers in business. Molly Jaffe thanked ships for URI College of Business Administration students and them for their generosity. each year an average of four students who show academic talent “I work very hard and always try to be the best that I can be and financial need are selected, according to Peg Ferguson Boyd, and their support is great reassurance of my success and will conbusiness college assistant dean. The second purpose is for the tinue to motivate me to work hard. Their support is appreciated acquisition of books and professional materials at the Robert L. and means a lot to me.” Carothers Library to support the business college.

the power of matching gifts F Over 450 donors had their gifts to URI matched last year, bringing in nearly $260,000 in additional donations. Visit to see if your company participates.

URI RhodeWays summer 2014 |


Using URI Engineering Degree to Pursue Clean Water for All E scholarship recipient maria briones ’14


or Maria Briones, scholarships made her May graduation from URI’s Spanish International Engineering Program (IEP) possible. Coming from a hard-working, low-income family that already had one daughter in college, Briones, 23, knew she’d be on her own financially. “There were times when I thought I wouldn’t come back then a scholarship came through,” said Briones, who arrived in the United States as a baby from Ecuador and was raised in East Providence, Rhode Island. “School is stressful, especially if you are wondering if you will come back. Scholarships made a huge difference.” A Pell Grant recipient and work-study student, Brione’s list of scholarships is impressive. She credits a $10,000 scholarship from the Beatrice S. Demers Foreign Language Fellows Program with making her year in Spain a reality. Then, in no particular order, there was: the Shawn P. McBride Memorial Scholarship; the Beatrice & Tom Garrick, Sr. Scholarship; the George & Virginia Geisser Civil Engineering Scholarship; the Jerry M. and Evelyn L. Rhoads Memorial Endowed Scholarship; the Thomas J. Kim Endowed Engineering Scholarship; and scholarships from the College of Engineering, among others. The opportunities she was offered, and took advantage of, at URI encouraged her to pursue graduate school. “I already have debt but I know there’s an opportunity for me based on academics and financial need. Just because money is an issue, I am not restricting myself.” Briones has been accepted to the four universities in the United States that offer a master’s in environmental engineering earned simultaneously with Peace Corps experience. She’s hoping to be sent to Latin America and use her newly acquired Spanish skills but she’s open to all possibilities. “I am willing to go anywhere in the world,” she said. That’s good news for everyone concerned about clean water. In 2011, Briones traveled to Guatemala with Engineers for a Sustainable World to assist a rural village with developing sanitation infrastructure. The trip convinced her that clean water and proper sanitation should be a basic human right and her career was decided. “The experience set my passion in stone,” said Briones, who worked with URI Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Vinka Oyanedel-Craver on clean water research projects.


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Student schol private High Achieving Pharmacy Student Praises His Professors E scholarship recipient arjun ughreja ’15


ne of the many positive impacts of receiving a scholarship administered by the URI Foundation is that recipients are often motivated to return the favor. Arjun Ughreja, who will graduate next year with his doctorate in pharmacy, was a recipient of the Beatrice & Tom Garrick, Sr. Endowed Scholarship. To him, the honor means that people really care about URI and about facilitating the education of current and future students. “This scholarship award has helped decrease the financial burden on me and my family, therefore allowing me to continue to pay for the reputable Pharm.D education here at URI,” he said. “I had always planned to give back to URI in the future when I became financially able, and receiving this award just reinforces that idea.” Ughreja praised the Garricks and said if he had the opportunity to meet them, he would tell them about his background. “I would share with them how my family and I work very hard to continue paying me and my younger brother’s college bills off with only one steady paycheck. I think by getting to know about me, they will be able to see exactly how much they are personally doing for me and my family. I cannot emphasize enough how grateful I am for receiving this award,” said Ughreja, who is from Burlington, Massachusetts, and lives on campus. A member of the Rho Chi Pharmacy Honor Society and the URI Honors Program, Ughreja has thrived academically under the demands of the College of Pharmacy’s challenging curriculum, saying it drives him to perform at a higher level both at school and in the pharmacy practice. He’s made Dean’s List every semester since enrolling in 2009. Inducted to the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society in 2010, he praises his professors for their support. “I feel like studying pharmacy at URI is special because the professors genuinely care about your growth as future pharmacists. So they will put in the extra effort to help you learn and succeed in whatever way they possibly can.”

larships: support creating opportunity Sustainable Agriculture Student Wants You to Know What You Eat E scholarship recipient lauren breen ’17


ophomore Lauren Breene fell in love with the family farm when she was seven years old and free to explore fields and crops and get to know the pigs, turkeys, and chickens that also called Breene Acres in West Greenwich home. If she wanted to be among the cows, all she had to do was run next door to her uncle’s dairy farm. “I could go outside and do an infinite number of things,” she said, remembering how her mother and a friend started a local 4-H Club that grew to include 60 kids and produced loving memories of country fairs and chicken showmanship presentations for Breene. “I became passionate about the environment and food systems.” A plant sciences major with a focus on sustainable agriculture, Breene is the recipient of the privately funded Alexander R. & Patricia A. Gavitt 4-H Scholarship and she’s being considered for a national Udall Scholarship for students committed to careers related to the environment. Diligent about applying for scholarships, Breene has also received the Kenneth Lagerquist–RINLA Horticultural Scholarship and support from the R.I. Federation of Garden Clubs. She belongs to organizations that are helping to build new lives for farmers, including Master Gardener, Collegiate 4-H Club, and Future Farmers of America. Her goal is to become a food activist and increase the public’s food knowledge — motivating people to visit local farms and educating them about the importance of knowing the origin of their food and how it was raised. “Mostly what I want is for people to get to know their food,” she said. In an age of genetically modified organisms, family farming is enjoying a resurgence and Breene says the movement is expanding but on a small scale. She wants to make it even more popular and long lasting. She dreams of one day taking over for her parents, who are both school teachers, and running the family farm. Even though she could graduate in three years, she plans to stay at URI for the full four years to take classes outside of her major and learn about business, nutrition, animal science, and anthropology. A self-described “loc-a-vore,” Breene, who is in URI’s Honors Program, chose to live in Honors housing because it boasts a kitchen where she can cook the food she buys at farmer’s markets and gets from Breene Acres — the only food she eats.

B-Ball and the Band in Brooklyn URI alumnus Patricia Anton and her husband, William, recently supported URI Athletics by providing a $10,000 gift through the Anton Family Foundation to enable the URI Pep Band to attend the A-10 Basketball playoffs in Brooklyn, New York with the URI men’s basketball team this past March.

URI RhodeWays summer 2014 |


Philanthropic Support of Faculty Raises the Bar at URI haibo he, the robert haas endowed professor in electrical engineering, is conducting cyber security research that is making an impact far beyond uri


professor’s achievements have an impact that reaches far beyond the bounds of a classroom or laboratory. Engineering researchers at URI are working to prevent a virtual attack that could disable the nation’s power grid, air traffic control system, stock markets, e-commerce, and more. To protect the domestic power grid, Haibo He, the Robert Haas Endowed Professor in Electrical Engineering at URI, is building computer models of the grid to help utilities identify and eliminate weak points. With the click of a mouse, his team can see the nationwide effects of a major transmission line or power plant going offline. Professor He’s work has been supported by the Haas Endowed Professorship, which was created in 2007 by an anonymous donor’s $1 million gift. Named for a professor emeritus who taught electrical engineering from 1948 to 1988, the professorship, like others created from private donor support, has helped attract and retain prominent faculty in electrical engineering at URI. “Professors motivate and educate the next generation while conducting research that holds the power to improve lives,” said URI Foundation President Mike Smith. “Endowed faculty positions are among the most influential gifts a donor can make to a university. It is a personal and permanent way to make an impact by increasing URI’s competitiveness.”

Professor He and associate professor Yan Sun are focused on developing improved secure network protocols that route packets of digital information to their destinations. Like other researchers elsewhere, they are working to more broadly ensure the credibility of online information, the impact of which is significant: Internet shoppers turn to online reviews to decide whether to purchase a toy, a book, a hotel stay or entrust their child to a particular day care. Software under development by Sun and her team promises to warn consumers about sham reviews. The research builds on the College’s strengths in signal processing. The analysis of patterns in signals lends itself directly to developing methods to identify patterns in online reviews. Looking for errors — or lack thereof — in prescribed patterns can help researchers spot false reviews. To maximize their research, engineering faculty and students team up with the University’s Digital Forensics and Cyber Security Center, a cross-disciplinary effort to address network security in its totality. “Cyber security is a relatively new field and not too many solutions exist yet,” Professor He says. “But our work promises to find them.” An expanded feature article written by Chris Barrett on College of Engineering professors He and Sun and their work in cyber security can be found in the summer issue of URI’s alumni magazine, QuadAngles, online at

The Fund for Uri Alumni Participation Challenge: Securing


ttracting new donors is one very important component to any organization’s successful fundraising efforts. Here at URI, eight alumni donors recently stepped up to help do just that and the results were, in a word, outstanding. These eight donors, graduates of a variety of colleges and disciplines at the University, were part of a new annual giving participation challenge that successfully secured more than 400 new donors to the Fund for URI in fiscal year 2014, in addition to increased financial support for URI. The concept was simple. Eight donors each sponsored challenge gifts that were used to match new gifts by alumni and friends making donations to specified colleges, over a designated period of time, or to re-engage past donors. The challenge was accomplished through URI’s student phonathon program. Bernadine Sadwin ’95, director of Annual Giving, attributed the successful outcome to the challenge sponsors’ willingness to be a part of this unique strategy. “It’s been especially compelling to see the number of young alumni and recent graduates who have stepped up to make their first gift, knowing that it’s being matched by a generous URI alumni donor from their respective college. This challenge has inspired these new donations to URI and has been effective in increasing participation.” Three of the challenge sponsor donors, business graduate Christopher Wolfe ’91 and his wife Melissa, and engineering alum Kenneth Bradley ’81, were the first to support this new annual giving initiative last year. They were so pleased with the results, they offered to repeat the challenge again this year and were joined by new


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A URI Legend Inspires new Generation of nurses remembering barbara tate


ormer URI dean of Nursing Barbara Tate devoted her life to advancing nursing and nursing education. “She wanted to make sure that nursing care was of the best quality,” said Nancy Tucker, who worked as Tate’s secretary from the time she became dean in 1964 until she retired in 1984. “She was definitely someone who cared about the profession and about URI educating the best nurses possible. She believed education would provide the leaders needed in the coming years.” A trailblazer and world traveler, Tate was instrumental in creating URI’s Master in Nursing and Nursing Practitioner programs and she laid the foundation for the Phd program. Tate was the recipient of two Fulbright Scholarships, which took her to Switzerland and Norway, two of more than 35 countries she visited on every continent except Antarctica. “I admired her because she was progressive. An independent female at a time when traditionally, women weren’t in these roles,” said her niece Judith Tate. “She was intelligent, independent, generous, and kind. She loved to learn and travel and see new things.” Tate passed away in 2011 at age 89 and her devotion to learning and the nursing profession continues with the Barbara L. Tate Scholarship in Nursing, established with her very generous bequest to the University. This year’s scholarship recipient is Maura Coburn, who graduated in May and who shares Tate’s passion for travel. Coburn hopes to become a traveling nurse.  “Ultimately I would love to specialize in obstetrics and work in a maternity setting,” said Coburn, who volunteered her medical

services to the poor in the dominican Republic over winter break. “I am so very excited to work as a nurse and put my inherent traits of compassion and empathy to good use.” Tate knew all about compassion and empathy during her long and impressive career. Her achievements are too numerous to list but highlights include being director of research and studies service at the National League for Nursing, and a research associate for the division of Nursing at Teachers College, Columbia University. She was associate director of the School of Nursing at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York, New York, and she taught nursing at the University of Pennsylvania and John Hopkins Hospital. She graduated from Mountainside Hospital School of Nursing in Montclair, New Jersey, in 1942, and earned her BA from Elmira College in 1945. In 1951, she received her master of arts and ten years later, her doctorate of education, both from Columbia. Judith Tate, who graduated from URI in 1976, learned of many of her aunt’s accomplishments after she passed away. “She wouldn’t be a person who would tell stories that would make it look like she was tooting her own horn,” said Judith, who has fond memories of visiting her aunt in Geneva when she was there for her Fulbright. “She was modest and she kept her light under a basket. I wanted her light to shine.” Rita A. verespy, URI Foundation director of Gift Planning, said bequests through wills and trusts comprise a vital component of private support for the University. “Such gifts manifest a deep commitment and we are deeply grateful for Barbara’s gift and all our legacy society members for their far-sighted generosity.”

New Donors for URI’s Future donors for fiscal year 2014, Norm Tashash ’77 (CELS) and his wife Alicia ’76 (HS&S), and Susan Smith ’65 (HS&S), James Scott ’77 (HS&S), and an anonymous donor. Wolfe said he and Melissa believe in supporting their alma maters. They’re happy with the tremendous progress URI is making and how the University is connecting with alumni. “It seemed like a natural thing to broaden the base of participation and we wanted to partner there,” said Wolfe, who graduated from URI with a double major in finance and marketing and earned a masters from Columbia University. “The idea was to do something more far-reaching.” The Fund for URI provides operating funds for the University on an annual basis. It funds student scholarships and student opportunities, as well as faculty and essential program support. If you’ve been inspired to make your first gift to the University of Rhode Island or would like more information, please call 401.874.7900 or visit

strength in numbers F First-time donors increased by 128% from 2013 to 2014

URI RhodeWays summer 2014 |


Nonprofit Org.

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

U.S. Postage PAID Providence, RI 79 Upper College Road Kingston, Ri 02881

Permit No. 3091

Executive Editor: Michael J. Smith Managing Editor: Tracey A. Manni Contributing Writers: Tracey A. Manni Ericka Tavares ’88 Chris Barrett Todd McLeish Contributing Photographers: Joe Giblin Tracey Manni Judith Tate Contributions from profiled students

Champlin Foundations Awards More Than $650,000 for Innovation


he Champlin Foundations, one of the oldest philanthropic organizations in Rhode Island, this year awarded the University of Rhode Island four grants totaling $651,774, the largest single-year gift Champlin has ever given the University. According to the URI Foundation, Champlin has donated more than $13 million to the University since 1986 and is URI’s top cumulative corporate or foundation donor. URI Foundation President Mike Smith, said, “We are tremendously grateful that Champlin continues, year after year, to recognize the value of supporting innovation and interdisciplinary learning here at the state’s land-grant, research university. The long-term commitment they have demonstrated toward URI is remarkable, and we are pleased to consider them a major partner in our efforts to discover, advance and excel. ” This year’s grants provide direct support to student learning across all of our degree granting colleges and will fund: technology to measure coastal erosion for use by science and engineering students; video conferencing and lecture-capture equipment to create a global interface in business education; diagnostic equipment to create an interdisciplinary cardiovascular laborato-


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ry for students in several health-related majors; and cutting edge instrumentation for probing molecular structure and function so students can learn the full potential of molecular science. “These projects provide our faculty with state-of-the-art technology and facilities that expand opportunities for our students and position the University as a leading institution dedicated to active and engaged student learning,” said Donald DeHayes, URI provost and vice president for academic affairs. The four funded projects are: • A statewide coastal erosion monitoring program using state of-the-art Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), $150,500. • Lecture-capture equipment and video-conferencing technology, $152,000. • Cardiovascular Diagnostic Learning Collaborative, $214,274. • Advanced instrumentation for probing the structure and physiological function of purified therapeutics, $135,000. For detailed information on the innovation being supported at URI by Champlin this year, visit

RhodeWays_Issuu 2014  

the impact of private support at the University of Rhode Island.

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