URI Foundation Excellence Awards winners to be recognized
at URI Convocation '99
KINGSTON, R.I.-August 25, 1999 -- 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 1999 Convocation exercises to be held on Wednesday, Sept. 15 at 3 p.m.
The following individuals are the 1999 URI Foundation Excellence Award
Administrative Excellence. For the hundreds of students enrolling
in engineering each year at the University of Rhode Island, Richard Vandeputte
makes constructing their education seem as easy as using an erector set.
From helping them design their educational blueprint to ensuring that they
acquire all the pieces needed to make the final product a reality, Vandeputte
is quick with guidance and takes pride in each student's outcome.
Whether it is working on reports and information to ensure accreditation
of the college, or coordinating placements for students in France as part
of the International Engineering Program, or representing the college at
"Meet the University" days, Vandeputte combines his skill and
dedication as an assistant dean with his unending enthusiasm and energy
to accomplish the goals at hand.
As the head of the engineering recruitment program, Vandeputte is also
often the first contact aspiring engineers have with the University. His
successful outreach programs - including visiting and coordinating programs
for high schools and meeting with prospective students and parents- have
increased the popularity of the College of Engineering. Vandeputte is a
resident of North Kingstown.
Teaching Excellence. Professor Mario Trubiano of Peace
Dale truly opens up his heart and his home to his students. It's not unusual
for this well-liked languages professor to invite students to his home for
informal gatherings with special guest lecturers or to discuss opportunities
for Summer Study in Salamanca. At the University, his office door is always
open and he is ready to lend a listening ear.
This enthusiastic and motivated professor has dedicated his professional
life to encouraging students to excel. He requires excellence from his students,
but demands no less from himself. One student wrote in his support, "He
not only possesses a great intellect and demonstrates tremendous interest
in the quality of his teaching, but, most importantly, he is dedicated to
making students' stay at the University an extraordinary and enriching experience."
As an educator, one of his greatest gifts to students at the University
was his efforts to establish the URI Summer Study Program in Salamanca more
than a decade ago. This award-winning and internationally renowned program
offers an opportunity to study with top-notch faculty in Spain and has been
embraced by an ever-increasing number of students.
Staff Excellence. Whether she is working on department budgets
or decorating the office for an upcoming holiday, Valerie Morgan
of North Kingstown is the kind of secretary everyone wishes to work with.
Always ready with a friendly smile and a kind word, Morgan approaches everything
in the Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design with a
"can-do" attitude. In Valerie's office, the candy jar is always
full and all are welcome to sample the sweets.
Morgan has spent more than 30 years as the only secretary in a department
which has grown to encompass 250 students and an active graduate program.
She is often seen as the eye of the storm, or that fountain of calm reassurance
who will stop her work to type an exam for a professor or enthusiastically
greet groups of incoming visitors.
As Barbara Brittingham, Dean of the College of Human Sciences and Services
said, "Above and beyond the call of duty? To be sure, I think those
are Valerie's middle names."
Scholarly Excellence. To unearth the culture and history of a
people whose very name means hidden is a daunting task. Yet, who better
to do this than Languages Professor Dr. David Gitlitz of Kingston.
Through his many undertakings aimed at shedding light on the lives of the
Crypto-Jews during the Spanish Inquisition, Dr. Gitlitz has created a lasting
legacy celebrated by everyone, and in particular by historians and Jews
worldwide. He is also called a "Renaissance Man" by his colleagues
for his remarkable skills in researching, writing, translating, analyzing,
speaking, and sharing Spanish poetry, literature and culture.
This internationally renowned scholar has spent over twenty years delving
into Sephardic culture and the Spanish Golden Age in order to share this
way of life through his nine books, over 40 published articles, and lectures.
His recent book, Secrecy and Deceit: The Religion of the Crypto-Jews
received numerous accolades, including the Jewish Book Council's 1996 National
Jewish Book Award for Sephardic Studies and the 1997 Lucy Dawidowicz Prize
for History. His ground-breaking research is regarded as the most significant
study of the Crypto-Jews since the beginning of the century.
In keeping with his role as a Renaissance Man, he and his wife, Linda
Davidson, recently joined the touring circuit with their book, A Drizzle
of Honey: The Lives and Recipes of Spain's Secret Jews. While this work
is enjoying a more populist audience, in addition to traditional scholars,
it is a tribute to the ways in which Dr. Gitlitz' intellectual curiosity
contributes to the preservation of a culture. The recipes for this book
and the meticulous process of recreating them, reflect the pristine nature
of his research.
The URI Foundation was established by an act of the Rhode Island General
Assembly in May of 1957 and exists solely for the benefit of the University
of Rhode Island. It seeks to encourage private giving to the University
and acts as the trustee in administering these funds. The Foundation also
manages and licenses patents, copyrights, and trademarks for the University.
For More Information: Jhodi Redlich, 874-2116 or Jan Sawyer,