Ballentine Hall is ‘Back in Business’ at URI

Media Contact: Linda A. Acciardo, 401-874-2116
Dave Lavallee, 401-874-2116

Ceremonies mark reopening of home of
College of Business Administration

KINGSTON, R.I. — June 4, 2003 — The University of Rhode Island opened the doors to Ballentine Hall today, marking the completion of a $10.9 million renovation and expansion project that incorporates state-of-the-art wireless computer technology throughout the three-story granite structure.

The building, the home of the College of Business Administration, stands majestically at the northwest corner of the historic URI Quadrangle as a testament to the public/private partnership that formed its foundation. It is the first new structure built on the quadrangle in 30 years.

More than 200 URI business alumni, faculty, staff and students attended official dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremonies as part of URI’s “Back in Business Celebration.”

President Robert L. Carothers was joined by Gov. Donald L. Carcieri, Judge Frank Caprio, chairman of the Board of Governors for Higher Education; Edward M. Mazze, dean of the College; Robert M. Beagle, vice president for University Advancement, as well as URI alumni Richard J. Harrington, president and chief executive officer of Stamford, Conn. and Toronto-based The Thomson Corporation; Alfred J. Verrecchia, chief executive officer of Hasbro Inc.; and Vincent A. Sarni, former chairman and chief executive officer of PPG Industries Inc., for the ceremonies.

“Through the support of our alumni, our friends and the good people of the State of Rhode Island, we now have a business education center that will serve as an incubator for the kind of learning that stimulates curiosity and discovery,” said President Carothers. “The transformed Ballentine Hall will be another place at URI where active, collaborative learning takes place in an environment of the most current technology.”

The freshly landscaped grounds feature a new concrete plaza, park benches, and an array of light posts with an antique design that complements those on Upper College Road.

Constructed with a 5,300-square-foot addition, the building houses a trading room with

access to stock trades and purchases from financial markets around the globe. Its classrooms have been redesigned to capitalize on new teaching and learning technologies, and seminar and study spaces have been created to enhance faculty and student interaction.

Visitors won’t find a single blackboard in Ballentine. Instead they will find white boards, projection screens, and computers that provide professors and students with real-time access to worldwide financial and political news. While Ballentine has the very latest technological equipment, including a 40-station computer lab and a media room, it has also been designed to foster informal small-group learning conducive to research, class projects and programs with visiting business experts.

“Our goal has been to make URI the premier center for business education in the state and the region,” said Dean Mazze, the Alfred J. Verrecchia-Hasbro Inc. Leadership Chair in Business. “With this facility, and our outstanding faculty, staff and students, we have achieved this goal.”

A bond issue approved by taxpayers and URI asset protection funds provided $5 million of the total construction cost, while the Shareholders Campaign provided another $5.9 million in private gifts from alumni, friends of the University and corporations. The Campaign exceeded its goal by $300,000.

Harrington, a 1973 URI business graduate who was presented an honorary doctorate in 2002, chaired the Shareholders Campaign and made a $300,000 leadership gift to the University at the outset of the campaign, which was matched by The Thompson Corporation. He then made another $100,000 combined contribution with Thomson. He and his company are also donating Thomson One, the leading financial analysis database in the world, for the trading center.

“As a graduate of the College, this is a day of enormous pride for me,” Harrington said. “In the mid-1990s, members of the College’s Advisory Council and former Dean Frank Budnick advocated for a new business center. It started modestly with a rehabilitated computer lab in the old Ballentine. That project allowed us to see what could be done when alumni, the business community, the state, and the University came together. To say the opening of this building is a dream come true is an understatement.”

The 40-seat tiered classroom on the first floor has been named in honor of Harrington and the conference room adjacent to the dean’s office is named the Thomson Board Room.

The atrium is named in honor of Verrecchia and his wife Gerrie. Verrecchia earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from URI’s College of Business Administration in 1967 and 1972 respectively. Verrecchia and the Hasbro Inc. family donated a combined $1.5 million to support the building campaign and endow the first chair in the College.

Painted a light topaz (yellow), the atrium features a curved transparent roof and sculpture by Ann Sperry. Titled the “Coming Together,” the 26-foot high piece reaches from the first to the third floor and embodies the past, present and future of the College with metal strands that express the coming together of ideas, experience, time, energy and imagination.

The addition, the Vincent A. Sarni Executive Wing is named in honor of former Cranston and Providence resident Vincent A. Sarni, a 1949 accounting graduate of the former Rhode Island State College, now URI. The former chief executive officer of PPG Industries, who was presented an honorary doctorate in 1985, made a $1 million donation to the campaign.

The stock trading room is named after Bruce S. Sherman, a 1969 URI accounting graduate who has forged a reputation as one of the top money managers in the country. In making a $250,000 donation for the trading room, he said he wanted to give business students and faculty at URI access to the world of global marketplace securities trading.

The trading room has 15 workstations that will provide the students with up-to-the-minute news coverage so they can analyze financial information as it relates to world and national events. Accounting and finance majors, as well as students participating in the Ram Fund, a stock trading program funded by the URI Alumni Association, will spend a great deal of time in the trading room. It will also be open to all business students and other non-business majors at URI.

“The trading room will also strengthen URI’s alliances with the Rhode Island and regional financial services industry,” Mazze said. “It will prepare the future leaders in finance for the global marketplace and integrate business knowledge and theory into professional practice through the hands-on application of financial strategies and market behavior analysis.”

Built in 1967, the original 46,750-square-foot, three-story Ballentine Hall was stripped to its steel frame and floor slabs. “The decision to partially demolish the building on the current site, leaving the foundation, structural steel, and floor slabs in place saved us more than $1 million,” said Paul DePace, director of the Office of Capital Projects. “It allowed us to design granite into the exterior façade to complement the other buildings on the historic quadrangle.”
Berkshire Construction Services of East Greenwich was the general contractor, and architects responsible for the new design were Saccoccio Associates of Cranston and Goody Clancy & Associates, Boston, Mass.