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URI breaks ground on LGBTQ Center

In April, state officials and members of the URI community broke ground for a new LGBTQ Center at 19 Upper College Road, just beyond the main entrance to the Kingston Campus. Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee, other state officials, URI President David M. Dooley, Chief Diversity Officer Naomi R. Thompson, LGBTQ Center Director Annie Russell and students participated in the ceremonial launch of construction at the site of the old Ruggles House, a vacant URI building that will be razed. When the $2.1 million, 4,300-square-foot building is completed, URI will become the first institution of higher education in the country to design and build a freestanding LGBTQ Center.

“It’s a great moment for the University of Rhode Island to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity that’s part of our community now and will be in the future. As we have said in our Transformational Goals, building a community in which every member is welcomed, supported and valued is essential to our identity and mission,” said Dooley.

“I personally want to extend my sincere congratulations on the development of an historic structure on campus,” URI alumnus Andrew Dellorfano ’10 wrote in an email to President Dooley on the day of the groundbreaking.

“Take it from me, as a proud openly gay man from Boston, Mass., I, alongside many others, have seen, heard and at times experienced the stigma of being someone of the LGBTQ community. I want to say thank you for establishing this new Center.”

Designed to give URI’s LGBTQ community a strong identity, the single story, stone and clapboard building will have a veranda running along the front, and plans call for its roof to feature ornamental plants and flowers. A multipurpose room will accommodate about 50 people; the center will also feature a conference room for about 20 people, a group counseling room, and a student lounge. There will be offices for the director, three staff members and student staff members.

Established in 2011 and currently located in Adams Hall, the Center is part of URI’s Office of Community, Equity, and Diversity. In its first two years, the Center launched more than 75 new programs, services, groups or initiatives. More than 15 institutions nationwide and one in Spain have adopted URI’s LGBTQ programs and services as a model.

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