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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI first public university in New England to earn Truman Honor

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KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 21, 2005 -- The 1982 winner is head of the Judicial Development Division of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, supervising 85 staff members from 11 countries.

The 2001 winner is leaving the private sector with its temptation of better pay and 401-K matches to work in the public sector to protect the environment.

The 2003 winner who is legally blind is finishing his Ph.D. at Cambridge University to one day create software and hardware that will level the playing field between computer users with disabilities and the average computer usage.

Elizabeth Rolando, Johnathan DiMuro, a native of Cumberland, and Gregory Hughes, a native of Warwick, are just three of 10 Truman Scholars (out of 12) who will return next month to their alma mater to celebrate the University of Rhode Island’s designation as a 2004 Truman Foundation Honor Institution. URI is the first public university in New England to receive this honor and one of three nationally selected in 2004.

The University of Mississippi and Brandeis University were the other institutions. URI’s Honors Program, with assistance from the President’s Office, plans a series of events on April 6, including a visit by CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. A resident of New York, Toobin serves on that state’s selection panel for Truman Scholars.

URI was selected for the designation for actively encouraging talented students to pursue careers in public service and for its sustained success in helping students win Truman scholarships, including three such scholarships in the past four years.

Established by Congress in 1975 as a memorial to our 33rd president, Harry S. Truman, the highly competitive scholarship provides talented college juniors with $30,000: $3,000 for their senior year and $27,000 for graduate study to prepare for careers in government or public service.

“I am sure that Mr. Truman would be as proud of these 12 University of Rhode Island Truman Scholars as Foundation President Madeleine Albright and I are,” says Louis Blair, executive secretary of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. “I have had the pleasure and privilege of knowing most of them. They are committed to serving others. They have integrity, grounding, and awareness of who they are. They have unbounded potential for good. Yet they remain refreshingly sincere and modest.”

URI’s Office of National Scholarships opened its doors in 1996 under the auspices of the Honors Program and at the urging of Cheryl Foster, a professor of philosophy, who directs its activities. Since then, more and more URI students are capturing prestigious scholarships such as the Truman.

Foster comments: “Any celebration of a relationship between URI and the Truman Scholarship Foundation would not be complete without recognition of Political Science Professor Killilea, the longtime chair of the URI Truman Committee. Killilea currently oversees an extensive volunteer program, the URI Mentor-Tutor Internship, which matches URI students with children at risk, especially those in underserved school districts. Both of URI’s Truman nominees this year serve in the MTI program, thus continuing the proud tradition of public service so successfully modeled by the former scholars returning to campus.”

“We are proud of all of our Truman scholars and of the work of Dr. Foster and Dr. Killilea,” says URI President Robert L. Carothers. “Their commitment to preparing young people to win these scholarships has been instrumental in the University's designation at a Truman Foundation Honor Institution.”

URI’s celebration includes a chance for the returning Truman Scholars to meet with their favorite professors and current student leaders during events planned for the afternoon of April 6.

Jeffrey Toobin, Emmy award-winning legal analyst for the CNN News Group, will deliver the URI Foundation Distinguished Address in Edwards Auditorium at 7 p.m. His talk is free and open to the public.

Toobin’s speech “Talking Law in Plain English” is indicative of his job at CNN. He can be seen almost nightly simplifying complex legal issues into understandable language for viewers. Most recently, he can be seen commenting on the Michael Jackson trial.

Toobin joined CNN in 2002, after a seven-year tenure as a legal analyst for ABC News, where he commented on some of the nation’s most provocative and high profile cases, including the O.J. Simpson civil trial and the Kenneth Starr investigation of the Clinton White House. He received a 2000 Emmy Award for his coverage of the Elian Gonzales custody saga.

A staff writer for The New Yorker magazine since 1993, Toobin has written on such legal affairs as the 2001 dispute over Florida’s votes for president and the trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

He has written several critically acclaimed, bestselling books including A Vast Conspiracy: The Read Story of the Sex Scandal that Nearly Brought Down a President; The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson; and Too Close to Call: The 36-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election. He is currently writing a book about the Supreme Court.

Before the speech, URI’s Truman Scholars will be recognized and a short film directed by Matt Paquin will be aired, showing the multiple kinds of public service engaged by the URI community.

For more information about the day’s events, contact Deborah Gardiner at or 874-2303.