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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI Foundation presents its 2004 Excellence Awards

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KINGSTON, R.I. -- September 21, 2004 -- Each year at the University of Rhode Island’s Convocation, the URI Foundation recognizes four outstanding members of the URI community for their excellence. This year’s excellence award winners were presented with a citation and a check for $1,000 during convocation exercises on Wednesday, September 15.

The recipients are invited to march in URI’s commencement ceremony next May, walking with officials and dignitaries representing excellence within the URI community.

Recipients of the 2004 URI Foundation Excellence Award are:

Joanne Lawrence, of Exeter, 2004 URI Foundation Staff Excellence. Saying Joanne Lawrence is a “supervising word processing typist” is like saying Lady Godiva rode a horse.

Her former colleagues in the College of Arts and Sciences and her current colleagues in Enrollment Services agree that Lawrence deserves an excellence award not only for what she does, but how she does it.

For example after more than 20 years at URI, she has probably been asked the same questions hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Yet she always responds as if it’s the first time someone has asked it, whether the questioner is a confused student, a worried parent, a harried professor, or a busy dean.

She has rescued many grateful students from the brink of a bureaucratic black hole with her knowledge of graduation requirements and her soothing communication skills.

Phil Clark of West Kingston, 2004 URI Foundation Scholarly Excellence Award. Phil Clark maintains a youthful passion for his field of gerontology. His publications, professional presentations, and grant awards have earned him an international reputation as an extraordinary scholar.

But he doesn’t stop there. Not only does he want to discover new knowledge about older adults, he wants to ensure that budding, as well as practicing gerontologists, have access to that information, and thus improve the lives of our older citizens.

He is also an exemplary team player. With joint appointments in the College of Human Sciences and Services and the College of Nursing and as director of the Rhode Island Geriatric Education Center, he is always collaborative, cross-disciplined, and cordial. He is as much at home with seniors as he is with the professionals that treat them.

John Grandin of Wakefield, 2004 URI Foundation Administrative Excellence Award. As a professor of German, John Grandin didn’t have a ladder to look over the horizon in 1986, but he had intelligence, foresight, and a neighbor named Hermann Viets who was then dean of the College of Engineering. Out of their backyard discussions came the International Engineering Program, which combined the German language with a solid engineering education to give URI students a competitive edge in the growing global marketplace.

Under Grandin’s steady directorship, the innovative program continues to attract outstanding students, substantial funding, and international acclaim from educators, global businesses, and the German government.

Today, the five-year interdisciplinary program enrolls 180 students and offers internships in German, French, and Spanish-speaking countries in Europe and South America. The program also has a residence home on campus and plans under way for another.

Valerie A. Karno of Providence, 2004 URI Foundation Teaching Excellence Award. If you want to know what’s happening in Valerie Karno’s classes in Independence Hall, just ask her students.

One reports that the English professor has opened his mind to issues that had never crossed his mind.

Another says that she never had a professor so open to debate, or one that listened to students even if she didn’t agree with them.

Other students seem to agree that Karno never speaks over their heads. They also claim that she is creative, animated, and inspiring. And she’s not only interested in literature and law, she’s also interested in them.

But the prize-winning comment that must have impressed the judges and snatched this award came from a student who said: “I look forward to doing my homework! Unheard of! But true.”