Dear fellow alumni of URI:
It’s a pleasure to write you in my new role as the chair of the University of Rhode Island Foundation Board of Directors.
First, I’d like to recognize and thank Lorne Adrain, the outgoing chair, for his outstanding leadership over the last two years. He has devoted a great deal of time and effort to our University and has moved the Foundation ahead on so many levels.
Second, I’d like to again welcome Lil O’Rourke to our URI team, as the new President of the Foundation. Lil is a seasoned and highly respected leader in university advancement, coming to us from Syracuse University. She has already made an impact in inspiring our staff and has gained the confidence of the entire Foundation Board and University leadership.
Third, we’ve made several structural and process changes to the Foundation’s Board of Directors in order to better serve the University, including increasing the number of members to 40 (from 30), while shifting much of the heavy-lifting to Board committees including the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee will now meet more frequently throughout the year in order to better support the goals of the Foundation, and to more effectively support President David M. Dooley's able leadership and the mission of the University. Our volunteer Board is rich with talented and professional individuals who are all committed to the success of our University and these changes will help maximize the work they will be doing on URI's behalf.
I am honored to serve our alma mater in my new role and excited for the opportunity to help advance this remarkable institution. I have several key priorities identified, at the onset of my tenure, including the following:
Alumni participation: Increasing the depth and breadth of our alumni support. We currently have the lowest percentage of alumni giving among New England land grant universities.
Endowment: Growing the size of our endowment is crucial to providing long-term support of URI. Alumni participation will help build the value, and our work to achieve the highest level of returns will help ensure the growth of this significant investment. URI’s portfolio value, currently at $112 million, is the lowest among our New England peers.
Stewardship: Improving our communications with all of you is vital and we can do that by better sharing URI’s challenges and its successes. We want you to feel invested, committed and proud of your alma mater and to know that the value of your URI degree will continue to grow with each success URI experiences. A few key points of pride include:
For the current year, URI received a record nearly 22,000 applications for freshman admission and its average SAT and GPA figures increased to 1,664/3.52, respectively, making admission to URI increasingly competitive.
In the last ten years alone, nearly $400 million—due in large part to the generosity of RI voters—has been invested into renovating or constructing nearly 1 million square feet of space on campus, including the recently opened $68 million Beaupre Center for Chemical and Forensic Sciences on the Kingston campus.
URI faculty and researchers were instrumental in bringing in nearly $86.5 million in federal, state and private research awards during the fiscal year 2016.
Dozens of students, including several in 2016, have been awarded prestigious national or international scholarships including the Hollings, Goldwater, Truman and Fulbright scholarships. URI's first-ever Marshall Scholar was selected in 2014.
URI theatre and philosophy faculty member Rachel Walshe, a 2000 graduate of URI, bears the title of Rhodes Scholar, as the recipient of what is widely viewed as one of the most prestigious and selective international scholarships awarded.
We have much to be proud of at URI. There has been significant progress across campus in recent years, and we are excited to build on that moving forward. If we are to remain competitive in what has become an ultra-competitive higher education market, we'll need the increased support and backing of our alumni and an endowment that can sustain URI's growth and needs.
I would like to thank you for your past and future support; I realize there is a lot of competition for your charitable dollars. Please join me in making URI one of your top two philanthropic commitments. With state funding of URI's operating budget at only 9%, your support, no matter what level you can provide, will be valued and will make a difference.
Feel free to let me know of any ideas or suggestions you may have to improve our Foundation by contacting me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I've attached this video highlighting our University, and I wish you all a healthy and joyous holiday season.
Thomas M. Ryan '75
Chairman, URI Foundation Board of Directors