Real estate executive donates $1 million to help create Student Wellness Center at URI

KINGSTON, R.I. — November 28, 2007 — Students at the University of Rhode Island are closer to getting a state-of-the-art workout facility, thanks in large part to a generous alumnus.

URI 1978 Alumnus Michael Fascitelli has donated $1 million to URI’s Making A Difference campaign to help create a Student Wellness Center on campus, a facility that will foster personal health and promote community.

“It is always a proud day for the University community when a gift of this size is received,” said Robert Beagle, vice president for university advancement. “Making this even more significant is that the gift comes from one of our most distinguished alums who is a nationally-known real estate executive with a strong desire to invest in his alma mater’s future.”

The former two-story Roger Williams Dining Hall will undergo a $5.5 million renovation and conversion into the wellness center. Located in the heart of the residential life community, it is close to three new residence halls and the new Hope Commons Dining Hall.

“Our new wellness center will be a centerpiece in our growing living-learning experience,” said URI President Robert L. Carothers. “It will help focus our students on building healthy lifestyles, create a new place for them to interact and meet their needs for exercise and fitness. We are grateful to Mike for recognizing the importance of such a center.”

Cardiovascular equipment, aerobics and dance studio space are planned, along with wellness workshops. An addition to the west entrance will accommodate an elevator.

Wellness centers, a growing trend on college campuses, help to retain and engage students. When URI surveyed students about their priorities, they placed a wellness center at the top of their list.

Fascitelli grew up in North Providence, the son of a tailor and a seamstress. He was the first in his Italian-American family to attend college. After graduating from URI with a degree in industrial engineering, he worked two years before being admitted to Harvard Business School. Fascitelli graduated from Harvard in 1982. His career path since then includes a position at McKinsey, a New York City management consulting firm, and later joining Goldman Sachs. Fascitelli became a partner of Goldman and headed its real estate investment banking business.

In 1996, he joined Vornado Realty Trust as president, and today the company owns and manages more than 60 million square feet of office space nationwide, most notably in New York City and Washington, D.C. Despite his tremendous success, the URI alumnus embraces his Rhode Island roots. “My style is to be a regular guy, to make people feel comfortable,” he was recently quoted as saying.

“My wife, Beth and I are delighted to be able to give this gift to URI. It will benefit the school and honor my mother, Anna Fascitelli,” says the URI alumnus.

“My mother was an extraordinary person. She understood the importance of a good education and the foundation for future growth it would afford me. She encouraged me in physical fitness and the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

“URI was a terrific experience for me. It was academically strong, gave me the opportunity to play in a competitive sports program and introduced me to lifelong friends. Consequently, URI will always have a special place in my heart.

“To give back to URI, honor my mother and underscore our family’s commitment to education is a unique opportunity. What is especially appealing to Beth and me about this wellness center is that it will be an additive part of the URI experience. College is a time to develop as a person. With the new wellness center, URI students will be better prepared to build fuller lives for themselves and their communities.”

URI’s Making A Difference Campaign seeks $100 million to recruit and retain outstanding faculty, enhance the student-centered campus experience, provide undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships, and fund cutting-edge academic and research initiatives. For more information on the campaign, click on

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