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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

New URI Foundation president named

Media Contact: Tracey Manni, 401-874-2145

Michael J. Smith to Lead Fundraising and Endowment Management
Operations for the University of Rhode Island


KINGSTON, R.I.- (September 26, 2011) – Thomas J. Silvia, chairman of the URI Foundation Executive Board, today announced that Michael J. Smith has been named as the new president of the URI Foundation. Smith, a high-level administrator serving most recently as vice president for development for the Kansas State University Foundation, will officially begin December 1st.

“We are very pleased that Michael has agreed to come on board as the Foundation’s new president. We were unanimous in our decision and feel strongly that he possesses the ideal mix of extensive, hands-on fundraising knowledge, strategy development experience and proven management skills that will help take charitable giving at URI to the next level,” said Silvia.

Smith has had a twenty year career in higher education philanthropy, including work on three major campaigns at institutions in Kansas that netted over $800 million collectively. He successfully led the development and implementation of a comprehensive development program at Kansas State which significantly grew the KSU Foundation’s impact across campus and was instrumental in leading the University’s development team in increasing annual total charitable gifts to Kansas State from $21 million to over $100 million. Smith has a proven track record in building relationships and generating positive and measurable outcomes in higher education philanthropy.

"I am thrilled and humbled by the opportunity to work for the University of Rhode Island Foundation,” said Smith. “I have been impressed by all of the people I have met throughout the interview and selection process and energized by the transformative goals that have been set by President Dooley. From the Foundation Executive Board and staff, to the Alumni Association, academic deans, athletics, and beyond, it was obvious to me that everyone shares a passion for this University and an understanding of the great potential it has. The role of private philanthropy at URI is becoming increasingly important, and I look forward to doing what I can to help build and increase opportunities that will enhance its profile and competitiveness.”

URI President David Dooley added, “I look forward to working closely and actively with Michael and the Foundation to maximize our fundraising efforts and outcomes. URI has been fortunate to have very generous and supportive alumni and friends over the years, and we have a great story to tell about the role this institution plays locally, nationally and globally. I think we are on the cusp of an even greater period of philanthropic growth and we’ve got the ideal leader at the Foundation to lead the charge.”

According to Silvia, the search process was extensive and resulted in an exceptional pool of candidates with a national footprint for consideration.

He noted, “Having just come off a successful campaign here at URI, the fundraising goals and expectations for the Foundation have increased commeasurably. There was consensus that Michael would be the ideal leader for the Foundation staff and the one who could work collaboratively with the university president, administration, deans and other constituencies, with the collective goal of securing private philanthropic support to produce transformational results for URI.”

Smith is a graduate of Kansas State University and received a master’s degree from the University of Kansas.

The URI Foundation was created in 1957 and is an independent 501(c)(3) charged with overseeing all charitable fundraising activities on behalf of the University of Rhode Island, as well as administering the University’s $100+ million endowment portfolio. For more information on the URI Foundation, visit www.urifoundation.org.