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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Founder of first minority-owned bank to speak at URI's Black Scholar awards program

Media Contact: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-4500

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 2, 2004 -- The University of Rhode Island's Seventh Annual Black Scholar awards program will not only present awards to several outstanding black scholars, but also a success story to these students and others by the founder of the first minority-owned bank in Southern New England.

The keynote speaker will be Peter F. Hurst Jr., founder and chief executive officer of The Community's Bank of Bridgeport, Conn. Free and open to the public, the program will be held on Monday, April 5 at 6:30 p.m. in the Cherry Auditorium, Chester R. Kirk Center on the University's Kingston Campus.

Hurst is the founder, chairman of the board, CEO and president of the Urban Financial Group, a registered bank holding company that controls the Community's Bank. The Community's Bank was formed in February 2001, by the purchase of three banking offices and $60 million in deposits from Fleet Boston. The Community's Bank has offices in Bridgeport, Hartford, and Bloomfield, Conn.

Formerly, Hurst held positions including president of Hurst Capital Partners, Inc., senior vice president - Dean Witter Reynolds Corporate Finance, and E.F. Hutton Financial Institution Group member. For two years he worked in the general counsel's office of the Federal Reserve Board, and for two years with the Washington, D.C. law firm of Steptoe & Johnson.

Hurst received his juris doctor from Harvard Law School, and graduated magna cum laude from Duke University with a bachelor's degree in accounting.

The Seventh Annual Black Scholar Awards Program and reception will recognize the following outstanding black graduating seniors:
Naomi S. Gobern to receive the William Gould Award. Gobern, of Providence, is a Human Development and Family Studies major. Named for 1958 alumnus William Gould who was the first black to lead the National Labor Relations Board, the award is presented in recognition of outstanding achievement in the areas of organizational leadership, peer relationships, faculty-student relationships, general service, and academic performance.

Andrea D. Hepburn to receive the Arthur L. Hardge Award. Hepburn, of Providence, is a Human Development and Family Studies major. Named for Arthur Hardge, who was a major force in Rhode Island's black community affairs and co-founded the University's Talent Development Program. The Talent Development Program has played an integral role in the growth of the University's black community. This award is presented to a senior in recognition of outstanding service to the black community outside of the University.

Paulo M. Cruz, Thelma Yaniza Titus, and Benjamin Wesley to receive the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award: Cruz of East Providence is a Human Development and Family Studies major; Titus, of Worcester, Mass., is an English major; and Wesley of Leesburg, Va., is a German major. Named for civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, this award is presented to seniors in recognition of outstanding service in the area of organizational leadership, volunteer service, and general service in the University community.

Claudette M. Bannerman to receive the Harvey Robert Turner Award: Bannerman of Providence, is a mathematics major. Named for 1914 alumnus Harvey Robert Turner, one of the earliest Black graduates of the University, this award is presented to a senior in recognition of significant contributions made to the Black community of the University through activities which demonstrated a commitment to the community's growth and recognition of others.

Teresa B. Evans to receive the Sojourner Truth Award. Evans is a marketing major. Named for Sojourner Truth who escaped from slavery to become a significant figure in Black history, this award is presented to a senior in recognition of success despite dire financial, physical and/or personal problems, which would ordinarily impede progress.

Denise M. King to receive the Jackie Robinson and Althea Gibson Scholar-Athlete Awards: Named for professional baseball player Jackie Robinson and tennis player Althea Gibson who became the first athletes (in 1946 and 1957 respectively) to break through the color line(s) to play in and excel in their sports. The award is presented in recognition of outstanding performance in sports, including good sportsmanship and the best qualities of the scholar-athlete.

Demond M. Boseman to receive the Saint Elmo Brady Award: Boseman of Newport, is a Biological Sciences major. Named for St. Elmo Brady, who became the first person of African descent to receive a Doctor of Philosophy degree in chemistry, this award is presented to the graduating senior with the highest academic average in the sciences among black students.

Freddie Skipworth and Sharina Niera Savage to receive the Estes Benson Award: Skipworth of Warwick, is an English major; Savage of Wyoming, R.I. is a psychology major. Named for 1979 alumnus Estes Benson, this award is presented to a male and a female student with the highest overall academic grade point average among Black seniors.

Barbara J. Ellis to receive the Noreen Coachman Award: Ellis of Providence, is a Human Development and Family Studies major. Named for 1973 alumnus Noreen Coachman this award is presented to an older graduating senior who has achieved excellence in academic and extracurricular life while maintaining family and work responsibilities.

For More Information: Donald Cunnigen, 874-4302