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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 Foundation Excellence Awards winners to be recognized at URI Convocation 2000

KINGSTON, R.I. -- September 11, 2000 -- Each year at the University of Rhode Island's Convocation, four outstanding members of the URI community are recognized for their excellence by the URI Foundation. Excellence award winners will each be presented with a citation and a check for $1,000 during the 2000 Convocation exercises to be held on Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 3 p.m.

The following individuals are the 2000 URI Foundation Excellence Award winners:

Administrative Excellence. Jonathan Blaney (URI '71) is a man who wears many hats. In a typical day, Jon takes on the roles of business manager of the College of Arts and Sciences, computer technician, building manager, resource allocator, fiscal manager, systems manager, and many more. As the "go-to" man for the largest college in the University, Jon always finds innovative solutions for a wide variety of problems.

It is not unusual to see Jon rescuing a computer that was deemed irreparable or helping any of the 25 department chairs with his extensive knowledge on budget, accounting, purchasing, and personnel procedures.

Examples of his ingenuity are everywhere, from the dressmaker patterns he located for URI's Commercial Pattern Archive to the entire Psychology Department's computer network. As one of his grateful colleagues said, "He is a team player who is always ready to go the extra yard to make us and the University look great."

Blaney is a resident of Wakefield.

Teaching Excellence. Don't be surprised if you ever walk into Dr. Roger LeBrun's classroom to see this charismatic professor of entomology dancing about the room as an insect. To make his students bug out over his lessons, Dr. LeBrun has been known to use a variety of creative methods ranging from theatrical impersonations to showing movie clips to bringing in the real thing.

Dr. LeBrun's teaching reaches far outside his classroom. He also serves students as director of the Laboratory for Invertebrate Pathology and Director of Graduate Programs for the College of the Environment and Life Sciences. An expert on the mosquito-borne Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus, he has expanded his classroom to the entire nation, speaking about the virus through newspapers and Good Morning America.

But Dr. LeBrun's utmost concern is the education of each and every one of his students. As one student noted, "Never giving up on students, he pushes them to do better on every test and assignment. He believes in students when others, and even the student himself, have lost faith."

Dr. LeBrun is a resident of Kingston.

Staff Excellence. Within the bustling community of URI's Honors Program, secretary Deborah Gardiner is an island of calm reassurance and strength. With efficiency and a bright smile, Deborah tackles a variety of activities from helping to plan large scale events like the Honors Colloquium to coordinating the schedules of the 33 faculty members and more than 400 students in the program, to the simple things, like making sure her trademark candy dish is always full.

Balancing a workload that has more than tripled in the past three years has only made Deborah shine brighter. There is never a problem she can't fix or a deadline she can't meet, even if it means going above and beyond the call of duty.

In the words of one of the honors program students, "Not only is Debbie the cornerstone of the Honors Center, but she is also responsible for the thriving life of the Honors Program - devoting her time, effort, support, kindness and generosity to those who spend years or even just a few hours on the second floor of Lippitt Hall."

Gardiner is a resident of West Kingston.

Scholarly Excellence. Redefining an entire field of work, and expanding an accepted way of thinking may sound impossible to some, but for Dr. Wayne Velicer, it's all in a day's work. A true pioneer, his research on Multivariate Statistics and Health Psychology has led to innovative behavioral change models, a partnership with the Johnson and Johnson Corporation, development of the Nicotrol smoking cessation program, and international collaborations with researchers around the globe.

Dr. Velicer is truly a world class scholar. In addition to receiving more than $50 million in grants, he has authored more than 150 articles, chapters, and books. He has been named one of the top 25 cited psychologists and one of the top 25 highest-impact authors, and had a special issue of the journal Multivariate Behavioral Research devoted to his work. His research has inspired important work in Europe, the Netherlands, Germany, and Australia, among others.

In the words of one of his colleagues, "He is a tremendous intellectual resource, a credit to this University, and, incidentally, a very nice guy. I don't know of anyone more deserving of the Scholarly Excellence Award."

Velicer is a resident of Peace Dale.


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