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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI raises 65 percent of $15 million goal
for Convocation Center project in only 18 months
Campaign gets big boost from Raytheon, Verizon gifts

KINGSTON, R.I. -- July 13, 2000 -- Only 18 months into the three-year private fund drive for the University of Rhode Island Convocation Center, the University has raised 65 percent of its $15 million goal, bringing in $9.7 million, it was announced today by Thomas M. Ryan, co-chair of the campaign's Blue Ribbon Steering Committee. The total represents more than $2.7 million raised from individuals and corporations since the November 1999 campaign update.

As the demolition phase of the largest building and design project in the University's history begins, both Raytheon Co. and Verizon-Rhode Island (formerly Bell Atlantic), recently committed $300,000 to the campaign. Including the Raytheon and Bell Atlantic gifts, the campaign has brought in a total of seven gifts in this latest round at or above the $100,000 level and another 39 gifts of $10,000 or more.

"This has been a very successful private fund-raising effort," said Gov. Lincoln Almond, co-chair of the Blue Ribbon Steering Committee. "The state is also doing its share by committing $23 million to the project, including the Convocation Center and ice rink facility. This shows what can be accomplished when the private and public sectors join forces."

Officials from Raytheon and Verizon stressed the importance of their commitments and their $300,000 gifts to the University.

"Raytheon is pleased to confirm its long-term commitment to the future of Rhode Island, the continued economic growth and well-being of the region, and the prosperity of our greatest resource our people", said Dan Smith, vice president and general manager of Raytheon's Naval & Maritime Integrated Systems Business Unit, headquartered in Portsmouth, R.I. "We look forward to a long-lasting and mutually enriching relationship with the University and state and local governments to promote the advancement of technology through a better educated, more highly trained work force, and the retention of this quality work force in the region as the engine for continued growth and prosperity."

"Verizon-Rhode Island and the Verizon Foundation are pleased to support the Convocation Center through the design and implementation of the most state-of-the-art high speed data technology transmission," said Donna Cupelo, president and chief executive officer of Verizon-Rhode Island. "We have worked diligently with the University to create and provide one of the fastest and most efficient telecommunications networks in the country to meet the administrative and student body needs for the present and future.

"Because many of our employees and their children attend and support URI and some of the other colleges and universities within the State of Rhode Island, Verizon has a special interest in how these institutions utilize our highly advanced network for all facets of daily communications and operations," added Cupelo.

In May, Ryan, chairman and chief executive officer of CVS Corp. and a 1975 University of Rhode Island graduate, announced a $1 million personal donation to the campaign. Ryan became the second URI graduate to make a $1 million personal gift to the campaign. At the campaign kickoff in February 1999, Bradford R. Boss, chairman of A.T. Cross, made the first. CVS also made a $3 million donation to the project at the start of the campaign.

"CVS has made many contributions to many worthy causes over the years," Ryan said. "But I can think of none more important than supporting our home-state university.

"As we stand here today ready to write another chapter in URI's history of excellence, I see that all of you share a desire to move our University forward. Whether support comes from individuals or our fine corporate friends like Verizon and Raytheon, it has become clear to me that all of us want a promising new future for the University, South County and the state of Rhode Island."

Joseph Formicola, a 1969 graduate of URI and chairman of the major gifts committee, added, "We have many alumni and friends who have been extremely receptive to the campaign. They have committed to substantial pledges because they understand the importance of such a facility. I have confidence we will meet and probably exceed our goal."

Robert M. Beagle, URI vice president of University Advancement, said the campaign is prospering because of the dynamic work of volunteers, and the broad-based support from alumni and friends. "We have great leadership support from people like Governor Almond, Tom Ryan and Joe Formicola," he said, "and when you look at the list of donors, you can also see that it represents a wide cross-section of the URI family. This only reinforces what we have said all along, that this project would gain widespread support."

Beagle said there are still a number of major proposals being considered by potential donors.

Financing for the $54 million Convocation Center project includes the $15 million in private donations, $18 million in state appropriations and $21 million in revenue bonds. The project also calls for a separate $12 million ice rink. The state is providing $5 million in appropriations for the ice rink.

Among the new six-figure donors are an anonymous donor and:

Gary and Barbara Bowen of Boston.

The family of Robert, David, Alan and Marilyn Zartarian, of Rhode Island.

J.H. Lynch & Sons, Inc., Cumberland.

Louise Rosarbo, director of the Convocation Center Campaign, said the campaign is ahead of schedule.

"We have a list of 500 prospects, and our goal is to see as many of them as we can by the end of the year," Rosarbo said. "We're finding that as people have seen the invitation for the demolition event, they have been saying, 'Wow, this is really starting to happen.'"

She said the fund-raising staff and volunteers are very positive about the number and level of gifts.


For Information: Linda Acciardo 401-874-2116,
Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116


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