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RhodeWays the impact of private support at the university of rhode isl and y summer 2016

a publication of the uri foundation z 79 upper college road, kingston, ri z 401.874.7900 z

trip of a lifetime URI student studies at Wyoming field camp thanks to endowments honoring late professor Roger Larson


oger Larson was studying civil engineering at Iowa State University (ISU) back in 1963 when a trip to the University’s Geology Field Camp in Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin changed his life. He left civil engineering behind and went on to become a world renowned marine geophysicist and professor of marine geology and geophysics at URI’s Bay Campus. “That trip was one of the pivotal points in his life,” said his wife Jane Grenier. “He really believed in the field camp and learned a lot. At that time, the field camp was cited as ‘a 200-mile-square geology textbook.’ It was intensive geological work and it made a difference to him.” Shortly after Larson’s death in 2006, Grenier decided to honor him by making sure that every year, two URI geosciences undergraduates have the opportunity to attend the ISU Geology Field Camp in Wyoming, all expenses paid, in the hopes it will change their lives as well. URI Geology and Geological Oceanography student Callie Tominsky ’17, of Burrillville, R.I., desperately wanted to go but the cost made it impossible until she benefited from Grenier’s generosity. Calling the six summer weeks she spent in Wyoming, “the trip of a lifetime,” Tominsky discovered the wide, open spaces she’d previously only studied in the classroom and developed a greater appreciation for the field. “To me, the earth speaks in Wyoming and, as a geologist studying the earth environment, you Roger Larson can listen to what it is saying about the earth,” she said. Grenier, a retired CPA who worked at URI’s Bay Campus, has sponsored many students like Tominsky, who, like Roger Larson, believe the camp had a major impact on their lives. She recently formalized her giving by created two funds with the URI Foundation to cover all expenses associated with two students attending the camp annually including tuition, fees, and travel: the Dr. Roger Larson Memorial Field Camp Endowed Fund and the Dr. Roger Larson Memorial Field Camp Operating Fund. continued on next page

URI Foundation recognizes and celebrates excellence


he URI Foundation Excellence Awards, which honor University staff members for outstanding dedication and commitment, were established in 1970 to acknowledge individuals who demonstrate excellence in their respective areas and whose work has a positive impact on the University community. Following an extensive nomination process, four exemplary members of the URI community were selected to receive the 2016 awards. The following recipients were honored by University President David M. Dooley, URI Foundation President Lil Breul O’Rourke, and Geraldine Barber, chair of the URI Foundation’s Excellence Committee.

administrative excellence award: Michelle Curreri, Chief of Staff, Office of the President Curreri serves as chief of staff for President David M. Dooley. She keeps communication flowing, advises on sensitive and difficult matters, and manages the president’s calendar. Her outstanding organizational and communication skills were on display when she led the URI Commencement team. Curreri presents on commencement at international conferences and she founded the Rhode Island Association of Commencement Officers. scholarly excellence award: Brett Lucht, Professor, Department of Chemistry Known worldwide as a top researcher in lithium ion batteries, Professor Lucht’s groundbreaking work focuses on the development of novel electrolytes for lithium ion batteries and on improving the performance of electrolytes for electric vehicles. His research has attracted more than $12 million in external funding and he has active contracts and grants totaling more than $5.4 million.

From left, URI Foundation President Lil Breul O’Rourke, Board member Geraldine Barber, award winners Marsha Mott, Angelo Simeoni, Brett Lucht and Michelle Curreri, and URI President David M. Dooley.

staff excellence award: Marsha Mott, Senior Word Processing Typist, School of Education Mott supports all seven graduate programs within the School of Education. She monitors the admissions process of each program and maintains records on current students, organizes the comprehensive exam process each semester and tracks students for graduation, which occurs three times a year, and coordinates the staffing schedule for all fall, spring, and summer School of Education courses.

teaching excellence award: Angelo Simeoni, Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture With outstanding communication and interpersonal skills and an open door office policy, Professor Simeoni takes a personal interest in the success of his students early in their education and helps them transition into college. After more than 25 years on campus, this licensed landscape architect excels at preparing students for their chosen profession and applies cutting-edge technology to his courses.

callie tominksy’s trip of a lifetime is thanks to larson endowments Grenier, 66, has designated URI as the beneficiary of retirement assets and she is looking to the future because Congress recently made permanent a law called the IRA Charitable Rollover. This gives donors the ability to make required minimum IRA contributions up to $100,000 directly to charities, including URI, at age 70½ without having to pay taxes on it. URI Foundation Director of Planned Giving Rita Verespy said the law means gifts to URI can be put to good use immediately, allowing donors to see the difference their donation is making. “Using retirement assets such as an IRA to make both current gifts via the IRA Charitable Rollover and future, or deferred gifts through beneficiary designations are simple and tax-wise strate-


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gies that many can take advantage of,” Verespy said. “In coming years, this strategy will become increasingly popular.” Grenier believes Larson, whose Bedrock Geology Map of the World can be seen in nearly every Geology and Earth Science Department, would be proud of the new endowments established in his name. “I’m sure he’d be thrilled to support URI undergrads attending the Wyoming Field Camp, it’s a very special place.” Tominsky said words alone cannot thank Jane Grenier for her gifts. “I’d probably get choked up and give her the biggest hug ever and beyond saying ‘thank you!’ I would tell her there were so many professors who came up to me at the field camp that talked to me about Roger. They remember him and they honor him as well.”

what a crew! URI Men’s Crew rows to success with support from crew alums and friends


he 50th anniversary of the URI Men’s Crew Team has truly been golden with the team’s winning performance and its success at raising nearly $50,000 to keep the team outfitted with new equipment. The club, which receives a stipend from URI’s Club Sports and Intramural Council, has always relied on team member fees as an added revenue source. But with crew shells costing as much as $45,000, head coach Bob Gillette ’80 knew team alumni and supporters would play an essential role in the team’s success.

“The 50th anniversary served as an important milestone for us to use to create momentum for the team because over the years, the cost of the equipment has outpaced our ability to pay for it,” said Gillette, who has coached the team 10 seasons in the past 35 years. “As I looked at the age of the equipment, the important impact it has on our success as a team, and our reasonable ability to replace it, I knew we were really heading for some hard times. So, we turned to our dedicated base of crew alums and they stepped up in a big way.” A May reunion celebration organized by the URI Alumni Association brought the first crew coach and many original team members to Narragansett to kick off the fundraising effort. Former members have Members and coaches of the 2015–16 crew team. been re-engaging at a time when the team has enjoyed a nearly unprecedented season that included a Head of the Charles win, a New England Champion, and two National Champions. At the recent American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championships, URI won the Men’s Improvement Trophy, which is based on the greatest point gain from last year to this year, and placed third overall in the Small Boats Trophy. Gillette thanked alumni, family, and friends who provided support. “We are grateful and we plan to ride this wave of momentum to even greater heights next year.” pHotos BY steVe o’Brien

URI RhodeWays summer 2016 |


Scholarship recipients play many roles in URI’s production of Legally Blonde, The Musical


heatre major and scholarship recipient Anya Fox ’16 of Richmond, R.I., grew up watching the film Legally Blonde, the come-from-behind, feel-good story of sorority sister Elle Woods who leaves California and heads to Harvard Law School to win back the boyfriend who dumped her because she’s too blonde. “It was one of my favorite movies,” said Fox, 22. “I never thought in a million years that I would play this part! It really empowers women to be themselves and stand up for what they believe in.” Fox, who is a brunette, had fun being the perky blonde Elle Woods. “They built the wig for my head and the first time I put it on I started laughing and tears came out of my eyes, it was so drastic,” she remembered. “But I grew to love the blonde. It was a good thing.” The iconic role of Elle Woods is not the only starring role Fox has relished. She was Roxie Hart in URI’s impressive performance of Chicago and while in high school she played Ophelia in Hamlet and Jo March in Little Women. But it was her very first role in an elemenA number of URI Theatre students, both on stage and backstage (pictured) were tary school performance of The Christmas Story that supported with privately funded scholarships this year, including spurred her passion for acting and singing, which captiAnya Fox, on left, starring as Elle Woods. vates a theater packed with hundreds of spectators. Fox received the Robert and Natalie Ward Theatre Scholarship. Fellow Theatre Department students also received scholarship support. Recipients of the Thomas R. Pezzullo Scholarship in the production included: Daraja Hinds, who played Pilar; Katherine Riley, who played Paulette; and stage manager Allyson Schiller. Christine Dickinson, who played Vivienne, received a Department of Theatre Scholarship. “How nice to donate to the arts!” said Fox of the scholarships, which support many students who are planning on a career in the highly competitive world of acting. “I feel very privileged and grateful that someone reached out and gave to a scholarship in this field that means so much to me.” Fox spent her years at URI essentially living in the Theatre Department and has nothing but praise for the program and the faculty members, as she looks back after receiving her degree this May. “It was an amazing experience and I would definitely advocate for people to choose URI. It’s an incredible place,” said Fox, who plans to visit and apply to graduate schools for acting, while taking roles that come along in the meantime.

Thank you

we couldn’t do it without you!

On behalf of students, faculty, staff and everyone across the University of Rhode Island community who benefits, directly or indirectly, from your generosity, THANK YOU! Your support and commitment to URI this past fiscal year is making great things happen.

16,746 $16m total number of students


4,258 $1.6m 13,436

received in total new activity

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degrees conferred

in annual fund gifts

total number of donors

44,000 rhody phonathon conversations with alumni and parents

Parlez-vous success? Engineering graduate wins French Consulate in Boston Excellence Award


rielle De Souza’s graduation from URI in May was especially memorable because she was honored with the prestigious French Consulate in Boston Excellence Award, which is given every year to a New England college student who has promoted French language and culture. De Souza, who graduated with a degree in French and ocean engineering from URI’s International Engineering Program (IEP), was chosen from seven nominees. She’s the only woman selected in the award’s three-year history. “Arielle has been amazing motivating her fellow students to study in France,” said Emmanuelle Marchand, culture attaché of the French Consulate. “She also has a great appreciation for the French language and culture.” De Souza’s 2014 year abroad changed her life. With scholarship support, she spent six months at the Université de Technologie de Compiègne in France and interned for six months at a French engineering company analyzing storm surge on the French Atlantic coast. “Living in France was the best year of my life. It’s so important as a millennial to become a global citizen. You can’t fully understand yourself as a person until you’ve experienced another culture. We live in a global world.” When she came to URI, De Souza knew she wanted to study ocean engineering, but wasn’t sure about her language. She picked French. Though, at first, she felt intimidated learning a new language, her professors embraced her, providing tutoring and frequent chats in French, which, she says, were “amusant.” While at URI, De Souza, who is teaching at a STEM camp for future engineers this summer at home in Brooklyn, N.Y., was fortunate to receive the Thomas J. Kim Endowed Engineering Scholarship for three consecutive years, as well as the Beatrice S. Demers Foreign Language Fellowship, which provides generous fellowships for Rhode Island college students pursuing foreign language studies. “It makes a difference. The scholarships are a way of saying that we want you to succeed here and we believe in what you’re doing,” she said. “You are doing something unique. You are putting in the work and we want to support you.” URI French Professor JoAnn Hammadou-Sullivan said De Souza is a great ambassador who reaches out to others to break down cultural barriers. “She recognizes the vital role of speaking the others’ language to be a true team player,” Hammadou-Sullivan said. “She has a bright future as someone who will work across national boundaries — the citizen of the world that can make us all proud.” URI Communications and Marketing Writer Elizabeth Rau wrote about Arielle De Souza in a media release on, which provided some of the information contained in this article.

university of rhode island announces restructuring of colleges With the creation of the new College of Health Sciences, several programs of study have moved to a new college. The Human Sciences and Services College no longer exists, and the College of Continuing Education is now The Feinstein College of Education and Professional Services (FCEPS).

university of rhode island program of study Nutrition and Dietetics Psychology




new college

Health Sciences

Health Sciences

Physical Therapy, Health Studies, Kinesiology, Communicative Disorders Human Development and Family Studies


Early Childhood Education*

Health Sciences

Health Sciences

Textile Marketing & Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design E



Business Administration


Elementary Education and Secondary Education Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies





*some curriculum requirements to be fulfilled under human development and family studies.

For more information, visit

URI RhodeWays summer 2016 |


meet the newest members of uri’s 1892 society With gratitude, we welcome the newest members of URI’s 1892 Society, which recognizes alumni and friends who make charitable estate and planned gifts to the University. These donors will help the University improve the quality of its programs for future generations. We are proud to acknowledge the URI supporters who became members in FY 16: Mr. David M Beaver ’80 Ms. Donna Briggs Ms. Joan L Chipman-Tallman ’71 Ms. Damita A Davis ’97 Mr. Joseph A Galanti Ms. Marilyn O Galanti Ms. Naomi E Goodhart ’79 Ms. Jane Grenier ’74 Ms. Nancy Larson Mr. Niles R Larson ’66 Mr. John A Livingstone ’93 Mrs. Nancy Almy Lundgren ’54 Dr. Raymond G Lundgren, Jr. ’54 Ms. Jill A Miskelley ’93 Mr. Steven J Miskelley ’ 93 Ms. Lindell Clark Northup ’68 Ms. Bridget H Rivet Mr. Alan L Saabye ’64 Ms. Barbara MacDonald Saabye ’65 Mr. John F Short ’67 Dr. Jay Richard Simon ’68 Mrs. Betty Connaughton Slocum ’49 Mr. John Lyman Slocum ’50 Ms. Jane M Stich ’62 Mrs. Helen S Szymkowicz Dr. Thomas A Szymkowicz ’43 Mrs. Alicia M Tashash ’76 Mr. Norman G Tashash ’77 Mr. Harry J G Trines Ms. Judith Stern Weisman ’69 Mr. Richard S Wilkes ’79 Mr. Christopher S Yun ’88 Mr. David G Zartarian ’67 Mr. Bruce George Zimmerman ’51 anonYmous: 5


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New scholarship created in memory of URI alumnus and computer networking industry leader Gary J. Bowen ’68


hen Gary Bowen’s widow sought to pay tribute to her late husband’s commitment to URI and his success in the high-technology industry, she had an idea. A scholarship would be created, but one that would be extremely impactful — life-changing even — to a young URI engineering student, something Gary had been more than 40 years ago. With Barbara Bowen’s gift of $100,000, the Gary J. Bowen Memorial Scholarship was established. It provides a three-year scholarship for full tuition and room and board for an in-state electrical engineering student. The merit-based award will be made to a URI student after the successful completion of his or her freshman year with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. The recipient will receive the scholarship for his or her remaining three years at the College of Engineering. “We’re looking for a student who reflects the qualities that Gary embodied: intelligence, hard work, service, integrity, and a generosity of spirit,” said Barbara Bowen, Gary’s wife of 47 years. They met at URI in 1965. “URI was really the beginning for him in so many ways and he loved this time in his life. From the professors who mentored him to the lifelong friendships he formed with Phi Gamma Delta brothers, he was so appreciative for what he gained at URI. Gary was incredibly loyal to his alma mater.”  “The impact of this gift will, no doubt, be life-changing for the student fortunate enough to be selected. We appreciate Barbara Bowen’s commitment to honoring her late husband this way, and we hope that she finds solace in enabling Gary’s memory to live on in such a meaningful way,” said URI Foundation President Lil Breul O’Rourke. “Gary had a deep and genuine commitment to this University.” Gary Bowen had a distinguished career in the high-technology sector. His primary focus was building small entrepreneurial companies into high growth companies that added value for customers and positively impacted society. Gary spent his early years building a career at Hewlett Packard and Masscomp. From there, he joined a small startup company, Wellfleet Communications, to build and operate worldwide field operations. Wellfleet quickly became the fastest growing company in the world two years in a row, a distinction that no other company has accomplished. In the later stages of his career, he remained engaged as a venture capital investor and a board member to many high technology start-ups. What he cherished most about his years in business were the enduring friendships he formed with respected colleagues, many of whom became his closest, most beloved friends.  “If he believed in you, he would go the distance for you,” Barbara said, “We were so moved by the countless former colleagues who shared stories of how Gary helped and supported them over the years. We were touched that so many people remembered him as a teacher, a mentor, and a loyal friend.” An active URI volunteer and a generous donor, Gary had been honored with the URI Engineering Entrepreneur Award and the URI Engineering Founder’s Club Award. He was a URI Foundation Trustee and a member of the URI Foundation Patent Committee. He also served on the College of Engineering Advisory Council, the President’s Advisory Council, and the leadership committee for URI’s Making a Difference capital campaign, which raised more than $125 million.

Retired business professor and former dean Frank Budnick creates scholarship for students involved in community service donors contribute $75,000 in his honor


he newly created Frank and Deborah Budnick Endowed Scholarship at URI differs from most scholarships in that it will reward business students who have demonstrated significant involvement in public or community service while at URI. This criterion was essential to the Budnicks, who established the scholarship to support a junior or senior with a 3.0 GPA or better with documented financial need. “I believe that people who have an opportunity to go to college should consider giving back to those who don’t have similar opportunities,” said URI Business Professor Frank Budnick, who retired last year after 44 years at URI’s College of Business Administration.

The scholarship, initially funded with a gift from the Budnicks, has already attracted more than $75,000 in contributions from donors including former students and fellow faculty members on campus. Nearly 100 members of the URI community gathered last month, many traveling a great distance, to celebrate Frank’s retirement in the atrium of Ballentine Hall, the building on the Kingston campus that he helped raise money to renovate when he served as dean from 1994-1998. They praised their former dean and professor in a display that left a lasting impression on Frank. “It was quite overwhelming to be honest with you. It was an unbelievable event that I won’t ever forget,” he said. Attendees and speakers included former students Al Verrechia ’67, former CEO and chairman of the board of Hasbro Inc., and Richard J. Harrington ’73, past president and CEO of Thomson Reuters Corp., and chair of URI’s Harrington School of Communications and Media Executive Advisory Board. Harrington said, “Frank has touched the lives of thousands of students and alumni over his 44 years of service to URI. I was a student of Frank’s and I headed up a capital campaign for him while he was interim dean. I saw firsthand the impact he had on all of us. My wife and I were happy to be there for his retirement function and more importantly happy to support his scholarship fund.”

Frank has a strong history of community service involvement, including volunteering for Meals on Wheels, St. Mary’s Food Bank in Arizona, and the former Health Center of South County in Wakefield, R.I. He and his wife, Deborah, who earned her MBA from URI in 1988, place a high priority on helping others and were pleased to establish their fund with service in mind. “Service to the community is an important core value and people should try to give back to their community and to those who don’t have similar advantages,” said Frank. He added, “The two of us are looking for something bigger and better. We want to feel like we’re having an impact.” Maling Ebrahimpour, the dean of the URI College of Business Administration, said, “We are thankful that Dr. Frank Budnick and his wife established this scholarship through their generosity and that of his family, friends and colleagues. The College of Business encourages research and work related to social responsibility and we are pleased to have a scholarship that rewards students for their commitment to serving their communities.” If you are interested in learning more about the scholarship or would like to make a gift, please contact Sarah Lobdell at 401.874.4716, or visit the URI Foundation online giving page at

URI RhodeWays summer 2016 |



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



Managing Editor: Tracey A. Manni Chief Writer: Ericka Tavares ’88 Contributing Photographers: Frank Budnick Joe Giblin Jane Grenier Nora Lewis Steve O'Brien Mike Salerno Callie Tominsky

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Find your perfect match You could double or even triple the impact of your gift to URI if your employer is one of thousands across the U.S. that participates in a charitable gift matching program.

The impact of matching gifts is substantial. Last year, 421 donations made to URI by nearly 300 alumni and friends were matched for a combined value of nearly $260,000!

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Rhode Ways News, Summer 2016  

Philanthropy and its impact at the University of Rhode Island.

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