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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

East Greenwich couple named to chair Fund for URI

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

Pair longtime supporters of University

KINGSTON, R.I. -- November 19, 2007 -- Karen McKay Davis and Jeff Davis are keenly aware of the importance of strong relationships.

In their experience, strong families, dynamic schools and caring communities are built on lasting relationships.

Recognizing the couple’s strong ties to URI—its alumni, students, faculty and staff-- the University named Karen and Jeff the chairs of this year’s Fund for URI.

“We were thrilled to serve as chairs because this is our 25th reunion year and we have so much gratitude for the education and experiences we received while at URI,” said Karen, who lives in East Greenwich with Jeff and their two children.

“We met on campus, made some of our closest friends here and we both earned our bachelors’ and masters’ degrees here,” Davis said. “I had a wonderful career here.”

“Karen and Jeff are the ideal chairs for the Fund for URI,” said fund Director Sarah Howard. “They have a deep appreciation for the University, and they understand the student experience at so many levels because they were active students and they remain active alumni. We know this year’s campaign is in great hands with Karen and Jeff at the helm.”

Karen, who worked at URI for 14 years as an assistant director of the Alumni Association, Annual Fund director and then as the director of advancement for the College of Business Administration, is now the vice president of community relations at Pawtucket-based Hasbro Inc., one of the world’s leading child and family entertainment companies. In October, Karen was honored at the University’s 2007 Distinguished Achievement Awards ceremonies as a recipient of a Dean’s List Award from the College of Business Administration.

Jeff is chief marketing officer and senior vice president of Hubbard Hall Inc., an industrial chemical distribution company headquartered in Waterbury, Conn.

In their new volunteer posts for URI, they are heading the University’s premiere annual giving program, which provides support for student, faculty, and alumni programs. Those who make unrestricted gifts allow the University to use contributions where they are needed most. Unrestricted gifts support student scholarships, faculty development, alumni programs and events, and a variety of special student programs and services.

Donors may also choose to direct their contributions to specific areas such as: The Parents Fund, which helps support student enrichment programs and events, and fund student participation in conferences, research competitions, and leadership programs; The Library, a vital resource for teaching, learning, and research; the Colleges to support the dean’s priorities; and URI Student Affairs, which helps to enhance student life and learning outside the classroom.

Both active in a variety of campus activities while students, the Davises understand the value of annul giving to the University. “People who make annual gifts to the University are the backbone of the giving program at URI. Because these alumni and friends make a gift each year, the University can establish programs and maintain them over time,” Karen said.

“We know so many who were only able to attend URI because of scholarship support, and we all benefited from experiences made available by alumni support; we want to help ensure that every student who wishes to be part of the URI family has the opportunity to do so and has available as many enriching experiences as possible,” she added.

“Now, we are happy to give back, and we hope that we are an example to students to do the same when they have the opportunity,” Karen said. “We want to encourage other alumni to support their University with their time, talent and treasures.”

Karen said she is most proud of helping to make the new Ballentine Hall a reality, establishing the Student Alumni Association, and redesigning the costume for Rhody the Ram when she worked in the University’s alumni office. Now, SAA is one of the most vital student groups on campus and organize popular programs like Oozeball, the Rhody Rally to boost support for URI athletics and the final exam survival kits offered to students at the end of each semester. The new Ballentine Hall is now a state-of-the-art facility that houses the College of Business Administration.

Karen and Jeff each earned their bachelors degrees from the College of Business Administration, with Karen earning her master’s degree in adult education and Jeff earning his in business administration. They stay in touch with faculty and staff from the college, as well as friends in the Division of University Advancement.

Jeff, who served a disc jockey at WRIU and then ran the radio station as general manager, said his education prepared him in a comprehensive way.

“URI was a great training ground, especially the MBA program,” said Jeff. “Being at a small company I use everything I learned. In pursuing a URI business degree you learn everything you need to run a company of any size.”

URI Department of Communications photo by Nora Lewis