Your Stories

Never Forget the Legacy of Leo DiMaio Jr.

The 1971 occupation of the Carlotti Administration Building.

After reading the story, “The Fight for Justice: URI’s History of Student-Led Civil Rights Activism” in the fall 2020 issue of the University of Rhode Island Magazine, and, in particular, the sidebar, “The Rev. Arthur L. Hardge and the Origins of Talent Development,” Daniel Price Jr. ’73 shared his reaction to the stories.

Leo DiMaio
The late Leo DiMaio Jr. served as director of Talent Development from 1980–1998. In that role, he encouraged and inspired countless students who remember him as a mentor and role model.

I was a member of the pivotal Talent Development class that entered URI in the summer of 1969, when Reverend Hardge and Mr. Leo DiMaio first joined forces. I was there for the next four years, graduating in 1973. I actively participated in all of the events that took place in 1971. I knew all of the students involved and have a very clear recollection of the events that took place and of those who participated in the 1971 student takeover of the administration building.

One very significant point that needs to be included in any discussion of the events that took place at the administration building in 1971 is what Mr. DiMaio did when the State Police—in full riot gear—smashed down the door to the registrar’s office, which we were barricaded behind. I remember it well, because it was terrifying. We were all lying on the floor with our arms interlocked, and just when the police hit the door with a battering ram (or whatever they used), a photographer’s flash bulb went off. The room we were in was darkened and the effect was like a shotgun blast coming through the door—very scary.

The first person to enter the room was Mr. DiMaio, scurrying over the file cabinets and desks we had used for the barricade, shouting to the State Police captain by name, “Don’t lay a hand on any one of my students in this room!!”

As a result, not one of us was struck by the police, who poured into the room wielding those long batons. It was total chaos, but the TD students came out of it totally unscathed. Unlike the white students who supported our cause and were surrounding the outside of the building in a show of solidarity. Several of them got beaten up pretty badly.

It is important that the facts surrounding this significant event are remembered accurately, and with the passing of Mr. D. in 2014, we need to be sure that his legacy reflects just how much he loved and protected his students from the very beginning. He was a unique individual who had a hugely positive impact on so many TD students, myself included, and his contributions should never be forgotten. Reverend Hardge used to say frequently that he and Leo DiMaio were “joined at the hip; there was not one without the other.” •

—Daniel Price Jr. ’73

Editor’s note:

A number of Talent Development (TD) alumni reached out to express their disappointment that the late Leo DiMaio was not mentioned by name in the sidebar about the founding director of TD, the Rev. Arthur L. Hardge.

Daniel Price

Price’s comments (which were excerpted and edited for inclusion here) captured powerfully the spirit of the collective concerns and described powerfully DiMaio’s actions during the Carlotti takeover in 1971. DiMaio, a founding TD staff member, became director of TD in 1980, and led the program until his retirement in 1998. He helped, supported, and inspired countless students during his years at URI. He passed away in 2014.

We were deeply saddened to learn that just weeks after sharing his comments, Daniel Price Jr. ’73 passed away. Price was a proud member of the first graduating Talent Development class at URI.

One comment

  1. I was a TD student from 1972 to 1976 Mr D was always there for us whatever we needed he and reverend hardge was on our side. Mr D always had an open door TD changed my live forever Helped me get Degree on time and mr D was a big part of it TD had a great support staff for us.

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