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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

The Champlin Foundations creates a technological legacy at URI

Media Contact: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-4500

KINGSTON, R.I. -- February 10, 2000 -- Gone are the days of anatomy students waiting for cadavers to be available, working in small laboratories, and having only one chance at each lesson. Now, if a student at the University of Rhode Island wants to examine a part of the body, he or she can reach for a keyboard instead of a scapula, thanks to the generosity of The Champlin Foundations, a philanthropist organization who has a long history of supporting technological initiatives at URI.

One of these initiatives was the creation of new computer labs complete with Animated Dissection of Anatomy for Medicine software, for several health services departments to aid in their anatomy courses. The computers allow students to do virtual dissections, conduct research, and obtain supplemental material on anatomy. In some classes, the actual dissection has been replaced by an animated computer lab, because of its efficiency.

The Champlin Foundations’ generosity towards URI spans almost three decades. In 1970, The Champlin Foundations made their first donation to the University in the form of an annual scholarship grant for the College of Pharmacy. Their next gift was in 1982 and since then The Foundations have awarded many grants to URI every year, consistently placing URI as one of the top five organizations to receive funding. As of this year, URI has received more than $7 million from The Foundations.

“Over the years, the Champlin Foundations' support has advanced many technological initiatives at URI, and has been essential to our efforts to keep current with the latest teaching technology available. We are truly grateful for their ongoing support,” said Paul Witham, associate vice president of development in the Division of University Advancement.

Champlin funds have supported a number of projects in a variety of disciplines. Examples of projects funded include: an engineering computer laboratory and classroom network design system in 1988; a Distance Learning Center at URI’s College of Continuing Education in Providence in 1995; and a biotechnology training laboratory in 1997. The URI library has also received much support over the years, allowing it to purchase new computers and equipment, and expand networks.

“Through their support of the University, The Foundations have improved the quality of education and have helped support URI’s academic efforts to supply the latest technology and teaching equipment to create real-world experiences in the classroom,” said M. Beverly Swan, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.

Although The Foundations typically support the sciences, they have funded many URI projects that incorporate technology into the arts, such as computer labs for use by the art, music, and theatre departments and internet hook-ups, video hook-ups, and resource carts in liberal arts classrooms.

In 1996, a grant was approved to create a screening room for film studies courses. The soundproof studio has 36 swivel seats, its own heating and cooling system, and a complete security system. It is equipped with two synchronized 35mm projectors; two computers; DVD, VHS, and laser disk players; and slide projectors.

English Professor and grant proposer Don Kunz said that the room has greatly improved the experience of studying film, because now images and film can be examined in a variety of ways. Film can be advanced slide by slide, or shown by sequences, and there is the capacity for videotaping in the classroom and using laptop computers.

“It is very beneficial to students because for the first time they are able to study images in a room equipped to show images of high quality and in a way that they are meant to be studied,” said Kunz.

The W. Alton Jones campus, URI’s 2,300 acre rural Environmental Education Center, has also received almost $50,000 to upgrade several of its facilities, such as the 19th century farmhouse, blacksmith house, cheese shed, and potato barn. This grant also included funds for a much-needed pig nursery at the farm. Thousands of children benefit from their hands-on learning experiences at these facilities each year.

Through their funding, The Champlin Foundations have equipped URI with state-of-the-art equipment needed to prepare students to enter a technologically driven work force.

Perhaps Linda Shamoon, professor of English and proposer of the grant that provided technology for liberal arts classrooms, sums up the impact The Foundations have had on teaching and learning.

“We are really grateful to have this funding from the Champlin Foundations. They have transformed normal classes to classes brimming with excitement and the newest technology tools available. Through their funding, they have made so much possible at URI,” said Shamoon.