Rhode Island voters give a resounding ‘yes’ to new engineering complex at URI

Voters in all but 1 municipality approve $125,000 million bond issue

KINGSTON, R.I. – November 5, 2014 — On election day, Rhode Island voters said “yes” to a 21st century facility for University of Rhode Island engineering students and faculty and a brighter economic future for the state.

Sixty-three percent of all voters approved Question 4, which will provide $125 million for a new engineering complex. In addition, voters in all but one municipality approved Question 4, with 77.2 percent of Providence voters approving the bond question. The other communities that came out strongly for Question 4 were: New Shoreham (Block Island) 74.5 percent in favor, Central Falls, 76.2 percent, Newport, 72.9 percent and South Kingstown, 70.4 percent.

Passage of Question 4 will fund construction of a 195,000-square-foot building to replace five existing engineering buildings on URI’s Kingston campus, all of which opened in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The approval means that about $8 million in private gift pledges that were contingent on the bond’s passage can now supplement the $125 million. Among the top pledges are Toray Plastics (America), $2 million; FM Global, $1 million, Taco, $400,000; and an anonymous gift of $2.5 million from a URI alum and corporate leader. The College has set a $20 million private fundraising goal.

The margin of victory for Question 4 was the largest in several years for URI bond referenda. In 2008, the bond for a new pharmacy building passed with 62 percent of the vote and the bond for the new chemistry building in 2010 passed with 55 percent of the vote.

“I offer my deepest thanks to the people of Rhode Island for their continuing commitment to the University of Rhode Island, and our efforts to make Rhode Island an innovation and enterprise leader,” said URI President David M. Dooley. “I also owe a deep debt of gratitude to the businesses of Rhode Island, the civic leaders, and the construction and trade union leadership and membership, all who provided critical advocacy, financial support, and votes for this bond issue. Governor Lincoln Chafee, Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, Senate President Paiva-Weed, and the entire General Assembly were instrumental in our success. The URI Foundation, the URI Alumni Association, and the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Association of University Professors also stepped up with private financial support for the campaign to carry the message to voters statewide. Finally, we can’t thank our alumni, students, faculty and staff enough for the countless volunteer hours they logged on behalf URI. Clearly, this is a day to be proud of Rhode Island and the University of Rhode Island.”

“From the launch of the bond campaign at Toray Plastics in late September, we have had nothing but overwhelming support from the Rhode Island business community,” said Raymond Wright, dean of URI’s College of Engineering. “Businesses across the state that rely on URI for talented engineers, supported Question 4 through their donations, volunteer efforts and public comments in favor of the bond. I thank all of them for their decades of support, and today I am even more grateful that Rhode Island is home to such forward thinking companies. Our students, faculty and staff and indeed, all Rhode Islanders will be better for their efforts.”

From Woonsocket to Westerly, the University gained widespread editorial support in the state’s newspapers, and every op-ed written or submitted on behalf of the bond was published in numerous newspapers. President Dooley and Dean Wright were interviewed many times by print and broadcast media from the campaign kickoff until the final days of the election season.

The following organizations endorsed Question 4: Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce, Newport County Chamber of Commerce, Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, Southern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, National Education Association Rhode Island, Rhode Island AFL-CIO, Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council, Rhode Island Manufacturers Association, Rhode Island Society of Professional Engineers, Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance, and the URI Chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

Pictured above

Dean Ray Wright with Rhody.

Photo by Nora Lewis.

Students at Homecoming.

Photo by Joe Giblin