URI Foundation Excellence Awards winners to be recognized at URI Convocation ’99

KINGSTON, R.I.-August 25, 1999 — Each year at the University of Rhode Island’s Convocation, four outstanding members of the URI community are recognized for their excellence by the URI Foundation. Excellence award winners will each be presented with a citation and a check for $1,000 during the 1999 Convocation exercises to be held on Wednesday, Sept. 15 at 3 p.m. The following individuals are the 1999 URI Foundation Excellence Award winners: Administrative Excellence. For the hundreds of students enrolling in engineering each year at the University of Rhode Island, Richard Vandeputte makes constructing their education seem as easy as using an erector set. From helping them design their educational blueprint to ensuring that they acquire all the pieces needed to make the final product a reality, Vandeputte is quick with guidance and takes pride in each student’s outcome. Whether it is working on reports and information to ensure accreditation of the college, or coordinating placements for students in France as part of the International Engineering Program, or representing the college at “Meet the University” days, Vandeputte combines his skill and dedication as an assistant dean with his unending enthusiasm and energy to accomplish the goals at hand. As the head of the engineering recruitment program, Vandeputte is also often the first contact aspiring engineers have with the University. His successful outreach programs – including visiting and coordinating programs for high schools and meeting with prospective students and parents- have increased the popularity of the College of Engineering. Vandeputte is a resident of North Kingstown. Teaching Excellence. Professor Mario Trubiano of Peace Dale truly opens up his heart and his home to his students. It’s not unusual for this well-liked languages professor to invite students to his home for informal gatherings with special guest lecturers or to discuss opportunities for Summer Study in Salamanca. At the University, his office door is always open and he is ready to lend a listening ear. This enthusiastic and motivated professor has dedicated his professional life to encouraging students to excel. He requires excellence from his students, but demands no less from himself. One student wrote in his support, “He not only possesses a great intellect and demonstrates tremendous interest in the quality of his teaching, but, most importantly, he is dedicated to making students’ stay at the University an extraordinary and enriching experience.” As an educator, one of his greatest gifts to students at the University was his efforts to establish the URI Summer Study Program in Salamanca more than a decade ago. This award-winning and internationally renowned program offers an opportunity to study with top-notch faculty in Spain and has been embraced by an ever-increasing number of students. Staff Excellence. Whether she is working on department budgets or decorating the office for an upcoming holiday, Valerie Morgan of North Kingstown is the kind of secretary everyone wishes to work with. Always ready with a friendly smile and a kind word, Morgan approaches everything in the Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design with a “can-do” attitude. In Valerie’s office, the candy jar is always full and all are welcome to sample the sweets. Morgan has spent more than 30 years as the only secretary in a department which has grown to encompass 250 students and an active graduate program. She is often seen as the eye of the storm, or that fountain of calm reassurance who will stop her work to type an exam for a professor or enthusiastically greet groups of incoming visitors. As Barbara Brittingham, Dean of the College of Human Sciences and Services said, “Above and beyond the call of duty? To be sure, I think those are Valerie’s middle names.” Scholarly Excellence. To unearth the culture and history of a people whose very name means hidden is a daunting task. Yet, who better to do this than Languages Professor Dr. David Gitlitz of Kingston. Through his many undertakings aimed at shedding light on the lives of the Crypto-Jews during the Spanish Inquisition, Dr. Gitlitz has created a lasting legacy celebrated by everyone, and in particular by historians and Jews worldwide. He is also called a “Renaissance Man” by his colleagues for his remarkable skills in researching, writing, translating, analyzing, speaking, and sharing Spanish poetry, literature and culture. This internationally renowned scholar has spent over twenty years delving into Sephardic culture and the Spanish Golden Age in order to share this way of life through his nine books, over 40 published articles, and lectures. His recent book, Secrecy and Deceit: The Religion of the Crypto-Jews received numerous accolades, including the Jewish Book Council’s 1996 National Jewish Book Award for Sephardic Studies and the 1997 Lucy Dawidowicz Prize for History. His ground-breaking research is regarded as the most significant study of the Crypto-Jews since the beginning of the century. In keeping with his role as a Renaissance Man, he and his wife, Linda Davidson, recently joined the touring circuit with their book, A Drizzle of Honey: The Lives and Recipes of Spain’s Secret Jews. While this work is enjoying a more populist audience, in addition to traditional scholars, it is a tribute to the ways in which Dr. Gitlitz’ intellectual curiosity contributes to the preservation of a culture. The recipes for this book and the meticulous process of recreating them, reflect the pristine nature of his research. The URI Foundation was established by an act of the Rhode Island General Assembly in May of 1957 and exists solely for the benefit of the University of Rhode Island. It seeks to encourage private giving to the University and acts as the trustee in administering these funds. The Foundation also manages and licenses patents, copyrights, and trademarks for the University. x-x-x For More Information: Jhodi Redlich, 874-2116 or Jan Sawyer, 874-2116