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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Needs are great for projects funded by bond referenda

Media Contact: Wendy Roworth, 401-874-2773

"Contemporary students select and attend colleges based on the expectation that they will have safe, modern facilities in which to live and learn," said Chip Yensen, director of the Office of Residential Life.

The four higher education bond referenda will do just that. They are vital to ensuring that the University of Rhode Island has the necessary facilities to prosper and increase its contribution to the state's economy. Ballot questions 5, 9, 10 and 13 will fund major capital projects affecting every aspect of campus life.

Question 5 will authorize $50 million in bonds to renovate residence halls at URI and construct a new residence hall at Rhode Island College. The URI share -- $20 million -- will be used to finish the seven-year residence hall renovation project initiated in 1999.

"The proposed renovations to URI's 35- to 45-year-old residences will provide that modernization along with essential fire, life safety, and accessibility code upgrades," Yensan said. "Our recent dormitory modernization projects have been a huge success and a source of pride for the University, and we must keep that program going."

Funds from this referendum will be used to complete work on Heathman, Fayerweather and Gorham halls and to renovate the final four residence halls in the project -- Hutchinson, Peck, Merrow and Tucker.

Referendum question 9 will provide $14 million to construct an Ocean Exploration and Research Center and rehabilitate the Pell Marine Science Library on the Narragansett Bay Campus. This project will integrate key resources and services of the Graduate School of Oceanography to position it as a leader in the 21st century exploration of the oceans.

"An Ocean Exploration and Research Center together with a rebuilt library will provide the focus for new oceanographic activities here at the Graduate School of Oceanography, including Bob Ballard's archaeological oceanography program," said GSO Dean David Farmer. "The building will house an Inner Space Center, providing a direct link via satellite between the Graduate School's research activities at sea in remote areas and URI's Narragansett Bay Campus, with onward links to educational programs in Rhode Island's schools. This is an opportunity for Rhode Island to become a leader in this innovative technology, with big payoffs to the state's educational programs, especially in science and math."

In addition to housing Ballard's program and the Inner Space Center, the new facility will house new office and laboratory space, a central computing facility, administrative offices, and a new campus gathering place. It will allow for growth of the Pell Library's collection and incorporate new electronic facilities to provide information services to users.

Approval of referendum 10 will authorize $6.7 million to construct an Athletic Performance Center at the Kingston campus and renovate facilities at Meade Stadium and Keaney Gymnasium.

"An Athletic Performance Center is important to the success of our athletic programs to physically prepare athletes for intercollegiate competition, to provide training to prevent injuries, and to properly rehabilitate injuries," said URI Athletic Director Tom McElroy. "And expansion of the Academic Advising and Study Center will help further URI's commitment to academic excellence for its student-athletes. "

The state-of-the art center will house a weight training room, aerobic fitness area, rehabilitation area, hydrotherapy station, and offices for training staff and strength coaches. In addition, the academic advising and study center in Keaney Gymnasium will be expanded to include an updated computer lab and tutoring rooms, and the athletic training and sports medicine area in Keaney will be updated and improved. At Meade Stadium, the west stands will be rebuilt and the east stands will be renovated.

Question 13 will provide $50 million for the construction of the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences, a major center of education and research that will drive economic development in the state's growing biotechnology industry. The building will support new scientific discoveries, provide work force training, and support technology commercialization and job creation in the life sciences.

"If the citizen's of Rhode Island want their children to have the best possible educational opportunities; if they want themselves and their children to be trained and competitive for the highest paying jobs; and if they want their university to generate a new economic vitality for the state, they don't just need to vote for the bond to fund the new Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences here at URI, they need to demand it," said Jeff Seemann, dean of the College of the Environment and Life Sciences.

The 165,500-square-foot facility will house modern classrooms, high-tech specialty laboratories, core support instrumentation, faculty offices, incubator space for technology commercialization, and a 400-seat auditorium, all to meet the needs of URI's growing environmental biotechnology and biological sciences programs.