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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Fiancée and colleagues raise $149,000 for URI in memory of alumnus, a victim of Chicago porch collapse

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KINGSTON, R.I. -- September 27, 2004 -- Eric Kumpf was a proud and dedicated 1994 alumnus of the University of Rhode Island. “URI held a special place in his heart,” says Alexis Brady, Eric’s fiancée, who graduated from the University in 1996. “We both loved Rhode Island so much we planned a wedding for last September 27th in Newport. I remember every time we drove to Rhode Island to plan for the wedding, we’d have to drive through campus. Eric would enthusiastically point out any new renovations or construction sites that he had read about.”

Eric and Alexis first met in elementary school in Bedminister, N.J. but didn’t date until after they both had graduated from college and had careers in New York City. They lived together in Hoboken, N.J.

That special day in September never happened due to a tragic set of circumstances. It was the weekend of June 19, 2003 when, Eric traveling in Chicago, stopped by a party to see a friend. He was standing on a back porch of a third-floor apartment in the city’s affluent Lincoln Park Neighborhood, when the porch collapsed. The 30-year-old groom-to-be was one of a dozen young people killed.

Stricken with grief, Alexis was somehow able convert her sorrow into energy by organizing two fundraisers last fall as a way to memorialize her fiancé. The first event raised enough money to dedicate URI’s Student Alumni Association’s office in Eric’s name. Eric’s employer, Barclays Capital, with Alexis’ help, organized the second event. The event, a bowl-a-thon and silent auction at Bowlmor Lanes, a three-story bowling center in mid-town Manhattan, raised $149,000.

Those funds have established three new endowments at URI: The Eric F. Kumpf Memorial Humanities Honor Student Endowment which provides, for the first time, research grants for undergraduate honors students involved in humanities projects. Another endowment, The Eric F. Kumpf Memorial Humanities Fellowship Endowment, provides research fellowships for faculty and graduate students. The third endowment, The Eric F. Kumpf Memorial Journalism and Political Science Scholarship Endowment, reflecting Kumpf’s two academic focuses at URI, supports a student majoring in political science and a student majoring in journalism, based on need and merit.

Lastly, since Kumpf was an ardent sports fan, $1,000 will be used to honor his name on a football stadium seat.

Robert Beagle, vice president for University Advancement and Michele Nota, executive director of Alumni Relations at URI, participated in the New York City bowl-a-thon, which they noted was a "wonderful outpouring of affection for Eric."

"Eric was a great URI supporter, both as a student and an alum," Beagle said. "These endowments will provide a fitting tribute to his memory, while having a lasting impact. Helping URI forever is what Eric would have wanted.”

“We deeply appreciate Alexis Brady and her friends for providing this generous and enduring tribute to Eric Kumpf,” said Winifred Brownell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “These endowments, established by a community of loving friends, will help support critical undergraduate, graduate student, and faculty research in the humanities, one of our strongest areas of scholarship at URI, and provide urgently needed support for outstanding students in journalism and political science, two of our fastest growing undergraduate majors.”

For Brady, there was never a doubt where the money would go. Kumpf had been an enthusiastic supporter of URI when he was attending the University and after he left. While a student, he was a tour guide for the Admissions Office, a freshman orientation leader, president and member of the Student Alumni Association, and a sports commentator for the URI football team. After graduating, he was a URI admissions officer who recruited heavily in his home state of New Jersey. He was the youngest alum to make a leadership gift to the Ryan Center campaign and he was a leadership donor to URI’s Annual Fund.

“Eric was a great man and had the biggest heart. He would have been proud to help students,” says Brady who works in merchandising and product development for Zanella, an Italian fashion company, in Manhattan.

“I miss him so much and so does his family, his friends and his colleagues. We talk about him all the time so his memory is never lost.”

Anyone who would like to contribute to the Kumpf memorial endowments should contact Tom Zorabedian, senior development officer for the College of Arts and Sciences, 401-874-2853 or zman@advance.uri.edu.