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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI alumnus makes $1 million commitment to alma mater

Media Contact: Jan Wenzel, 401-874-2116


Gift kicks off URIís upcoming Capital Campaign

KINGSTON, R.I. -- January 27, 2004 -- The year was 1958 and Richard Beaupre was being interviewed by an admissions officer at the University of Rhode Island. The officer told the eager young man that he lacked the language and math requirements needed for admittance. With that in mind, the officer paused before he said: "Iím going to take a chance on you." He told Beaupre if he completed the prerequisite courses in the summer, he would be able to enter URI that fall. Beaupre graduated four years later with a degree in chemistry.

Forever grateful that the University took a chance on him, Beaupre, founder and chief executive officer of ChemArt, a multi-million dollar company located in Lincoln, R. I., donated the first $500,000 of a $1 million pledge this year to his alma mater. The funds will establish an endowment that gives students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences a chance to experience educational opportunities that they might not otherwise be able to afford. The Cumberland resident has pledged an additional $500,000 to the endowment within the next few years.

The gift signals the start of the Universityís upcoming capital campaign, which is in its early planning phase and will focus predominately on contributions to build the Universityís endowment.

"When we did our first capital campaign nearly 12 years ago, Dick Beaupre was one of those important alums who had not really been engaged by the University. But, we approached him anyway. He was flattered to have his alma mater come see him, and he was quick to make a significant contribution to establish an endowed scholarship," said Robert Beagle, vice president for University Advancement. "I realized right then that Dick Beaupre is quite a guy-a highly successful businessman and entrepreneur; a very caring person who places a high value on helping others, a very proud URI alum, and a wonderful family man. It's only fitting that Dick, who is one of our strongest advocates and benefactors, would make this most recent gift which benefits our campaign in the near term while benefiting students over the long term."

Beaupreís gift provides funds for the College of Arts and Sciences Hope and Heritage Fund, which was established in 1999 by the Collegeís dean, Winifred Brownell. The fund, which will now bear Beaupreís name, primarily provides travel and lodging expenses for art and sciences students to attend conferences, present papers, exhibit work or perform in concerts. The fund also provides some support for faculty presentations.

When the fund was proposed, Beaupre immediately embraced the concept and has been a major contributor to it for the past five years since the concept struck so close to home. When Beaupreís stepdaughter was a student at the University of New Mexico she called home looking for money to attend a conference in Atlanta. When he asked her why the school didnít provide travel expenses, she told him that the school didnít have a travel fund.

"We could easily afford to give her the money and we did. But I kept thinking that there were a lot of parents who wouldnít be able to. Thatís why I liked the idea of such a fund at URI. Why should students have to forego a great opportunity to enrich their education because they canít afford the plane fare? I told Winnie at that time not to worry about the fund. I would endow it some day so that students and some faculty members will never have to face that kind of roadblock."

"Richard Beaupre and his company, ChemArt, beautifully integrate the arts and sciences through design and manufacture of exquisite work," says Brownell. "Dick is a business leader who appreciates the value of a liberal arts education, and he continues to play a vital leadership role through his volunteer and philanthropic efforts to support talented students and faculty at URI in their quest for excellence. We are now witnessing the first generation scientists, artists, and scholars gain acceptance to prestigious graduate programs and secure great jobs in large part due to the opportunities made possible by the Hope and Heritage Fund. Through this generous commitment, Dick has ensured that nearly $50,000 per year will be available to support these opportunities in perpetuity, and we are delighted to name the endowment the Richard E. Beaupre Hope and Heritage Fund in his honor."

After graduating from URI in 1962, Beaupre worked for four different companies before founding ChemArt in 1976 in a former ice cream factory in East Providence with four employees. Today the company, which employs 100, is a leader in the design and manufacture of metal ornaments and collectibles. ChemArtís product line includes ornaments and memorabilia, bookmarks, page clips, and lapel pins, which are used by customers to raise funds, promote events, recognize donors and volunteers, and to commemorate a special event. His company has designed and manufactured many ornaments based on important figures and periods in American history.

Beaupre has been generous to the University with his talent, treasure, and time. He established an endowed scholarship fund for married students with children to help them pay their tuition, he sponsors a variety of arts events, and is currently supporting URIís Humanities Campaign with a named fellowship for faculty and student humanities research. He is also a supporter of URIís Ryan Center.

In addition, he is a founding and active member of the External Advisory Council for the College of Arts and Sciences. He also serves as a trustee of the URI Foundation.