14th Annual Distinguished Achievement Awards

KINGSTON, R.I. — October 23, 2019 — The University of Rhode Island honored 15 individuals and a corporate partner Saturday, October 5, with Distinguished Achievement Awards that personify URI’s tradition of excellence. Four honorees received a President’s Award, one honoree received the Rising Star Award from the Graduate School, a married couple received the Athletic Director’s Award and alumni from each of URI’s eight degree-granting colleges and the Graduate School of Oceanography were honored with Dean’s Awards. The awards recognize alumni and friends of the University who have brought recognition to themselves and URI through their achievements, leadership and community service.

The President’s Award recipients are: 

Karen L. Adams, Hon. ’10
Retired news anchor, WPRI Eyewitness News and FOX Providence

With more than 30 years of experience in news broadcasting, Karen Adams is a leader in her field and a strong advocate for female journalists. Originally from Missouri, she earned her bachelor’s degree from Missouri State University and began her career in radio, quickly moving into television news. Now a resident of Narragansett, she anchored the evening news on WPRI from 1989 until her retirement in 2010. She earned an Emmy Award for Individual Achievement in Anchoring and was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle. In 2010, she received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Rhode Island, and in 2016, she established an endowment for female students from Rhode Island who are enrolled in the University’s Harrington School of Communication and Media.

Stephen M. Greenlee, M.S. ’82
President of ExxonMobil Upstream Business Development Co., and vice president of ExxonMobil Corp.

Stephen Greenlee joined ExxonMobil soon after earning a bachelor’s degree in geology from Duke University in 1979 and a master of science degree in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography in 1982. His career has focused on geological research, petroleum exploration and production, and business development. He oversees ExxonMobil’s global exploration, acquisition and divestment, and portfolio management activities. A resident of Texas, he chairs the University of Houston’s Energy Advisory Board, is a vice chair of the Graduate School of Oceanography Dean’s Advisory Board, and is a member of Houston’s Alley Theater board of directors. He and his wife Donna, a native Rhode Islander and fellow geoscientist, raised their three children while living in Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S.

Retired Army Gen. Leon J. LaPorte ’68, Hon. ’04
Chief Executive Officer, LaPorte & Associates

Retired Gen. Leon LaPorte served in the U.S. Army for 38 years, rising to the rank of four-star general. A native Rhode Islander, he was commissioned through the Army ROTC Program at URI, and in 1968, the day after commencement, he entered the Army. He served in worldwide operational assignments where he commanded at every level from second lieutenant to general. In May 2002, he assumed command of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, and the United States Forces Korea, located in South Korea. In April 2006, he retired from active duty. He holds a master’s degree in administration from the University of California, an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from URI, and serves as chief executive officer of LaPorte & Associates, a global strategic planning company.

The Corporate Award was presented to General Dynamics Electric Boat. For 120 years, General Dynamics Electric Boat has worked to ensure the security and superiority of our nation by designing, constructing, and sustaining the world’s finest submarines. From the first nuclear-powered submarine, Nautilus, to the fast and capable Virginia-class attack submarines, Electric Boat builds some of the most complicated machines in the world. A leader in a demanding industry defined by technical superiority and unrelenting quality standards, Electric Boat and its 17,000 employees are dedicated to solving the most challenging problems and developing innovative, effective, and affordable solutions. A proud corporate partner of the University of Rhode Island, Electric Boat has primary operations in Groton, Connecticut, an automated hull-fabrication and outfitting facility at Quonset Point in North Kingstown, Rhode Island and an engineering building in New London, Connecticut.

Melissa M. Husband and Nasser Zawia,
Melissa M. Husband and Nasser Zawia, dean of the Graduate School ;

The Rising Star Award was presented to Melissa M. Husband, M.P.A.’10, deputy secretary of state, Rhode Island Department of State. Having a natural affinity for public service, Husband designed her education around policy, nonprofit management, effective leadership, and public administration. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Roger Williams University and a master of science degree from the University of Rhode Island. Shortly after earning her master’s degree, she served as executive director of Community Action Partnership of Providence, a Rhode Island-based social service organization aimed at improving the lives of low- to moderate-income individuals and families living in Providence. She taught nonprofit management as an adjunct professor at Roger Williams University’s School of Continuing Studies. Currently as deputy secretary of state/director of administration, she provides leadership across the Department of State and oversees the operation of elections, business services, state archives, library and public information, and finance and personnel.

Cathy Cammans, Thorr Bjorn, and Jeff Cammans
From left, Cathy Cammans, Thorr Bjorn, director of Athletics, Jeff Cammans

The Athletic Director’s Award was presented to Jeff Cammans, retired founder of  Shoreline Business Solutions, and Kathy Cammans. Jeff and Kathy Cammans have been avid supporters of URI’s baseball program for many years, having cheered on their son Jeffrey, a former standout member of the Rams baseball team and a 2012 graduate of the URI College of Business. Jeff founded Shoreline Business Solutions, a Rhode Island-based business forms, document, and ATM/debit card management company in 1987. Now retired, he is a partner in J2 Properties, a commercial real estate investment and development company, with son, Jeffrey. Kathy previously served as a marketing communications manager at American Tourister and is a 1981 graduate of Penn State University School of Communications. Jeff holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Boston College. They enjoy splitting their time between Jamestown, Rhode Island, and Naples, Florida.

Dean’s Awards:

Bruce Corliss and Charles W. Mandeville
Bruce Corliss, left, dean of the Graduate School of Oceanography, and Charles W. Mandeville

Graduate School of Oceanography: Charles W. Mandeville ’81, Ph.D.’95, volcano hazards program coordinator, U.S. Geological Survey. Charles Mandeville served as a senior research scientist at the American Museum of Natural History for more than 13 years. A trained physical volcanologist and geochemist, he has conducted volcano research for the National Science Foundation at numerous sites throughout his career, including the Krakatau and Galunggung volcanoes in Indonesia, Mount St. Helens in Washington, Crater Lake in Oregon, and the Augustine Volcano in Alaska. He earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from URI and a Ph.D. in oceanography from the Graduate School of Oceanography. He serves as program coordinator for the United States Geological Survey Volcano Hazards Program. He is directly involved with efforts to establish a National Volcano Early Warning System for all active volcanoes in the United States and aids in the management of the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program.

Jeannette E. Riley and Pete Bassi
Jeannette E. Riley, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Pete Bassi

College of Arts and Sciences: Pete Bassi ’70, M.B.A.’73, retired chairman, Yum Restaurants International. Pete Bassi is the retired chairman of Yum Restaurants International, a spinoff of PepsiCo. With 25 years of financial and general management experience at PepsiCo, he became president of Yum Restaurants International in 1997 and served as its chairman from 2003 to 2005. During his career, Bassi was responsible for more than 13,000 restaurants across 100 countries, including the brands KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. He is lead director on the board of BJ’s Restaurants, based in California, and a board member of Yum China, based in Shanghai. He recently retired from his role as chairman of the board for Potbelly Corp. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and an M.B.A. from the University of Rhode Island. He and his wife, Barbara, reside in Southern California.

James A. Hopkins and Maling Ebrahimpour
James A. Hopkins, left, and Maling Ebrahimpour, dean of the College of Business

College of Business: James A. Hopkins ’62, retired vice president of operations, Wardwell Braiding Machine Co. Jim Hopkins led manufacturing operations management activities at A.T. Cross for 20 years and the Wardwell Braiding Machine Co. for 14 years, the last four years serving as managing director of Wardwell Europe in Berlin, Germany. A 1962 graduate of URI, he served as a board member and president of URI’s Alumni Association and as board member and interim president of the URI Foundation. Committed to student enrichment, he supports the University’s Hopkins Family Scholarship and the J-Term Travel Endowment. He is a trustee of Centreville Bank, chairs the Butler Hospital quality committee, and serves on the Kent Hospital and Care New England quality committees. He is a trustee of the Congregational Library in Boston, treasurer of the Anthony Lyceum Library Association, and chaired the Congregational Foundation board in Milwaukee.

Peter R. MacDougall and R. Anthony Rolle
Peter R. MacDougall, left, and R. Anthony Rolle, dean of the Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Education and Professional Studies

Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Education and Professional Studies: Peter R. MacDougall ’61, president emeritus, Santa Barbara City College. Peter MacDougall, an active community organization volunteer and officer in the U.S. Army, has enjoyed a lengthy career in higher education. He served as president of Santa Barbara City College for 21 years, during which time the college grew in size and prestige. He earned his bachelor’s degree from URI, a master’s degree from Rhode Island College, and a doctorate in education from Pennsylvania State University. He was named one of the Twelve Most Influential People in Santa Barbara by the Chamber of Commerce in 1991, received the News-Press Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992, and was selected as KEYT-Santa Barbara Foundation’s Man of the Year in 2000. In retirement, he continues to volunteer and enjoy time with his wife Leslie, their three children, and 10 grandchildren.

Raymond M. Wright and Joseph F. Matthews
Raymond M. Wright, left, dean of the College of Engineering and Joseph F. Matthews

College of Engineering: Joseph F. Matthews ’80, president, Maxson Automatic Machinery Co. Joseph Matthews joined his family’s third-generation, Rhode Island-based rotary cutting and sheet handling equipment manufacturing company in 1983 as a sales engineer for the paper and printing markets and in 2000 became company president. He was recognized with the Technical Association for the Pulp and Paper Industries Finishing and Converting Division Leadership Award for his contributions to the industry. A 1980 graduate of URI’s College of Engineering, he has continued to support the college and its capstone programs. Active in his community, he has served in leadership capacities on the boards of the Ocean Community YMCA, VNS Home Health Services, and South County Hospital. He serves on the boards of directors for the Narragansett Council of Boy Scouts of America and Tides Family Services.

Larry Mayer and John Kirby
Larry Mayer, left, and John Kirby, dean of the College of the Environment and Life Sciences

College of the Environment and Life Sciences: Larry Mayer ’73, director, School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering and Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, University of New Hampshire. Larry Mayer is director of the University of New Hampshire’s School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering. He graduated magna cum laude from URI with a B.A. in geology. After receiving a Ph.D. from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, he accepted a postdoctoral position at URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography. In 2000, he became founding director of the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at UNH. He is the chair of the National Academies of Science’s Ocean Studies Board, and the recipient of the Keen Medal for Marine Geology and an Honorary Doctorate from Stockholm University. He was appointed by President Barack Obama to the Arctic Research Commission in 2016 and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2018 and to the Royal Swedish Academy of Science in 2019.

Susan Hamer Kaplan and Gary Liguori
Susan Hamer Kaplan and Gary Liguori, dean of the College of Health Sciences

College of Health Sciences: Susan Hamer Kaplan ’78, M.S.’80, speech and language therapist. Susan H. Kaplan has been passionate about quality health care since her days at the University of Rhode Island. With a master’s degree in speech and language pathology, she began her career as a private practice therapist helping those with neurological impairments. A member of the University’s College of Health Sciences Advisory Council, she chairs the Miriam Hospital Foundation board of trustees, is a member and past chair of its Quality Oversight Committee and is a member of its Medical Credentials Committee. She also serves on Lifespan’s Quality Oversight Committee and is a trustee of the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, a nonprofit providing financial support to cancer patients in New England. She and her husband Saul Kaplan ’79 attended URI together. They are the proud parents of three and have three grandchildren.

Barbara E. Wolfe and Deborah Doucette O’Brien
Barbara E. Wolfe, left, dean of the College of Nursing, and Deborah Doucette O’Brien

College of Nursing: Deborah Doucette O’Brien ’85, M.P.A.’96, president and chief operating officer, The Providence Center; senior vice president of nursing, Care New England. A graduate of URI’s nursing college and chair of the University’s Nursing Advisory Council, she began her career as a nurse before moving into a leadership role at The Providence Center. Her background and business skills helped distinguish The Providence Center as an agency that values clinical excellence and strives to meet the behavioral health needs of Rhode Island’s families and communities. She and her husband, Richard ’86, live in North Kingstown, R.I., are past co-chairs of the University’s Big Chill Weekend, and current members of the URI Foundation Parents Council. They are the proud parents of Erin, a URI graduate, Michael, a soon-to-be graduate, and Meghan.

E. Paul Larrat and Susan Carson Petrovas
E. Paul Larrat, left, dean of the College of Pharmacy and Susan Carson Petrovas

College of Pharmacy: Susan Carson Petrovas ’92, Co-Founder and President, CDMI Magellan Rx. Susan Petrovas earned her bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Rhode Island and began her career at United HealthCare as a clinical pharmacist. She then served as corporate director of pharmacy services for Oxford Health Plans in New York City for eight years before leaving to co-found the Managed Care Network (MCN). After leaving MCN, in 2009 she and her husband George co-founded CDMI, a Rhode Island-based medical and pharmacy benefit management company that was acquired by Magellan Health in 2014. Along with her entrepreneurial endeavors, she is a member of the URI College of Pharmacy Dean’s Advisory Council and a trustee for the Preservation Society of Newport County. She and her husband live in Newport, R.I., with their daughters, Zoë and Sophia.

Lauren Poirier, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and public relations and English major, wrote this press release.