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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Family of leading alumnus donates $1 Million to the URI Hillel Foundation

Media Contact: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-4500

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 9, 2008 -- The campaign to build and support a new center for Jewish campus life at the University of Rhode Island today received a tremendous boost from the family of Rhode Island business leader and philanthropist, the late Norman M. Fain.

Fain's wife, Rosalie, and other family members, came to the University to announce the $1 million gift to URI Hillel from the Norman and Rosalie Fain Family Foundation in memory of Norman, who received his undergraduate degree from URI in 1936 and an Honorary Doctor of Business degree in 1967. The Fains made the announcement at a reception with more than 100 students, faculty, staff, alumni, Jewish community leaders and friends of URI Hillel.

The gift lays the foundation for Hillel's $4 million Capital Campaign, $3 million of which will be dedicated to the design and construction of the new Norman M. Fain Hillel Center on the Kingston Campus. One million will be used to create a permanent endowment to support ongoing building operations and maintenance.

"Hillel has been a part of the URI family for many years. It helps build a strong sense of community for our students and guides them toward roles as active citizens in our nation. Hillel creates leaders; young people able to lead in the global village and the world marketplace. I am so grateful to the Fain family for their commitment to Jewish students and to all the students of URI," said URI President Robert L. Carothers.

"We see this as a fitting tribute to our father and an opportunity to invest in the future of the Jewish community," said Jonathan Fain, son of Norman and Rosalie Fain.

The new 7,400 square-foot Center will be built in the renovated and re-designed former Alpha Epsilon Pi Jewish Fraternity house, which is in the heart of URI's "Freshman Village." It will be the central meeting point where students can celebrate Jewish life, explore Jewish and universal issues, build life-long friendships, and enrich their personal growth.

The Center will provide: Multi-purpose lounges for programs or casual get-togethers; a kosher kitchen and dining space that will offer an appropriate setting for festive Shabbat and holiday dinners, Passover Seders, and campus/community events; a Beit Knesset, a place of gathering for Shabbat and holiday services that can also be used for lectures, films, and discussions. The Center will also feature a patio that will be home to the campus Sukkah and provide outdoor social space; a library/computer lab that will house Hillel’s collection of books of Jewish interest; and a reception area, complete with an information kiosk and coffee bar, that will allow students and guests to be warmly welcomed.

According to Barbara Sokoloff (URI '64, '71), president of URI Hillel's Board of Directors and president of Barbara Sokoloff Associates of Providence, more than 35 Hillel Foundations across the country have built new or refurbished existing facilities during the past 13 years.

"In each case, the new Hillel centers enhanced the quality of campus life and expanded student involvement," Sokoloff said. "Based on feedback from students, faculty and staff, and parents, URI Hillel should see similar results here. With the space, there will be new opportunities for students to grow as people and as Jews."

"I have made great friends, gotten great leadership experiences, increased my Jewish knowledge, and traveled to Israel and Prague, all through my involvement at URI Hillel," said URI Hillel Student President Jessica Wolchok. "What’s great about Hillel is that no matter what your interest and background, Hillel has something for everyone. Although I’ll be graduating before our new building is open, I know it will be a great resource for students for years to come."

Amy Olson returned to her native state of Rhode Island in 2005 to become URI Hillel's Executive Director. "I am thrilled with the growth of Jewish life at URI and by the vision of Hillel’s leadership and the Jewish community to make this enormous commitment to the students. We are not only building a facility, but building our future leaders."

Lawrence Sadwin, URI Hillel's development director said that there would be naming opportunities available within the Norman M. Fain Hillel Center for gifts of $25,000 and above. In addition, a Capital Campaign Challenge Grant to Hillel's International Center in Washington, D.C. will provide up to $250,000 in matching funds to URI Hillel for qualifying gifts of $25,000 and above. All gifts of $1,500 or more will be acknowledged in the new Center. Gifts made to URI Hillel through the URI Foundation also will receive University acknowledgement and recognition.

For more information on naming opportunities, matching gifts and other giving opportunities, please contact Sadwin or Olson at 401-874-2740.


History of URI Hillel Foundation


• The Hillel Foundation at URI is part of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, an international organization dedicated to enriching the lives of Jewish undergraduate and graduate students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world.

• Having started with a part-time counselor in 1948, URI Hillel became a foundation in 1968, when its first full-time director was hired. Since then, Hillel has been administered by the director who also serves as URI's Jewish chaplain.

• In the 1970s, the Hillel Foundation moved from the Memorial Union to offices in what is now the Watson House (then the International House). The growth of Hillel's programs and services resulted in its relocation to the Christopher House at 34 Lower College Road, which was shared with other URI programs.

• Currently, URI Hillel rents space in a sorority at 12 Fraternity Circle.

• With renewed professional and volunteer leadership, a concerted effort has been underway to expand Hillel’s staff, program, resources and physical presence on campus. A renaissance of Jewish life at URI is underway.

• URI Hillel serves the approximately 1,200 Jewish students on campus. The program offers immersive experiences such as a trip to rebuild New Orleans; prominent participation in URI’s Annual Diversity Week programs; weekly social functions; festive Shabbat dinners and holiday celebrations; trips to Israel; educational and leadership development programs. The increased level of student participation in these programs has led to Hillel’s recognition by the University as one of the most active and dynamic organizations on campus.

• URI Hillel is a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of Rhode Island and relies on additional financial support from board members, alumni, parents, community members and family foundations.