Student Success is a team effort

25 URI community members, departments recognized with Rammy Awards

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 18, 2023 – With the close of the school year, the University of Rhode Island’s Student Success Team recently celebrated partners in their efforts across campus. The faculty and staff team works to support equity in retention efforts and student degree completion, giving out the Rammy Awards to recognize staff and departments who have contributed to student success.

“It’s like a Grammy, only better,” said Kim Stack, director of the Center for Career and Experiential Education.

News of the Rammy Awards is often a surprise to recipients, but the recognition always feels nice.

“I was excited to receive a Rammy!” Michael Macaulay of Enrollment Services said. “It was a really nice surprise, and I was thrilled to get that news. The University is such a great place to work, and honors like this are just extra special when you like your job.”

URI’s Counseling Center received a Rammy for their work leading this year’s Annual Be 5K for Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention. This year’s Be 5K raised over $3,300 for the Heather Fund. URI photo by Michael Salerno

Rammy Awards celebrate people and departments demonstrating extraordinary commitment to undergraduate student success, recognizing commitment to the URI community and work to advance diversity around access and student success.

“We wanted to recognize the contributions of others on campus doing work toward equity in retention at URI,” says John Olerio, director of URI Summer Sessions and Winter J Term, who initiated the awards with Stack in 2021. This year’s Rammys recognized the unique landscape for both admissions and students in the past few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congratulations to this year’s URI Rammy Award recipients:

Department Rammy Winners

Math Department

URI’s math department worked collaboratively to provide its entire curriculum online – all courses asynchronous – for the 2023 summer session.

Counseling Center

URI’s Counseling Center successfully organized and managed this year’s Annual Be 5K for Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention and held one of most successful Fresh Check Day events to date. This year’s Be 5K raised over $3,300 for the Heather Fund.

Student Support and Advocacy Services

The Student Support and Advocacy Services team often refer to themselves as the “Life Happens” office. Students coming to this office can get support as they navigate the non-academic complexities that can impact their ability to be academically successful.

Disability, Access, and Inclusion

The office is at the forefront of supporting student success. Formerly known as Disability Services, the office renamed itself to be more inclusive and help to foster a sense of belonging. Faculty and staff can refer students in need of help to the office or reach out with questions any time.

Talent Development

The Talent Development staff pivoted their summer programming last year to support scholar success.

Enrollment Services

Undeterred by a global pandemic, the Enrollment Services team created a virtual lobby during the pandemic to meet the needs of students in a new way — and helped URI see its best enrollment seasons yet.

Academic Enhancement Center

The Academic Enhancement Center will provide virtual and in-person tutoring for this year’s summer session; this will support students’ academic success and let them start the new school year in a good place.

Center for Career and Experiential Education

The center collaborated with the Multicultural Student Services Center to create a new BUILD (Building Unity & Inspired Leaders of the Diaspora) professional development event in February. The first event of its kind, BUILD brought 150 students of color and over 25 alumni and employers of color to connect and promote relationship building and workforce development.

Individual Faculty/Staff Rammy Winners

Alex Costa

An AmeriCorps VISTA student and recent graduate of URI, Costa worked in URI’s Center for Career and Experiential Education this school year. Costa helped build community partnerships with local nonprofit organizations to serve students through the Community Service Work-Study program. He also worked with Money Basics, URI’s financial literacy program, promoting financial literacy to URI students.

Lisa Giudici

In Academic Advising, Giudici offered several lunch-and-learn presentations to help support colleagues across departments with advising tools and an outlet to share resources and best practices with one another. The presentations are centered around core themes that assist students in developing a sense of belonging at URI, from first impressions of the campus and college life to preparing for graduation. Giudici will be offering more lunch presentations starting this summer.

Michael Macaulay

Macaulay of Enrollment Services managed URI’s texting platform, enhancing outreach to student groups across campus all year, boosting engagement, sharing resources, and highlighting opportunities. Macaulay says that the platform provides efficient and timely communication outreach to students and has been an invaluable tool for Enrollment Services.

Sarah Miller

Miller, assistant director of Experiential Education, created a website highlighting experiential education funding sources for unpaid credited opportunities. Through scholarships like these and creating awareness of other funding and support programs, the Center for Career & Experiential Education, with the support of generous partners, strives to remove barriers to career success and assist with navigating obstacles in accessing high impact experiential learning opportunities.

Becky Sartini

Sartini of the College of the Environment and Life Sciences is moving the University’s work forward on its diversity grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. URI was awarded a $500,000 grant from the institute this year, part of a program to support inclusivity in science education. URI is one of just over 100 institutions of higher education nationally to receive such funding.

Nataly Garcia

Garcia created video tutorials in Spanish to help students and families navigate the complexity of financial aid. Next, Garcia and her team plan to move onto Portuguese. “I could see a real need for this and it felt amazing to be recognized for it,” Garcia says. “It’s great to see a group like the Student Success Team see the importance of a multilingual website.”

Ceileidh Kung

Kung integrated diversity, equity and inclusion into her tutor training at the Academic Enhancement Center, in courses she teaches such as UCS 160 (Success in Higher Ed), and in support of her colleagues and fellow instructors.

Emily Orr

In the Office of Institutional Research, Orr is a data leader at URI. Orr’s knowledge of institutional data and reports makes her invaluable to student success and to the entire campus. She has helped others learn how to find and use such data to support student success, including hosting data “sandboxes” to teach others how to access, use, and understand the reports.

Lisa Macaruso

Macaruso received a Rammy for her work to keep student needs front and center. “The Academic Testing Center has undertaken several initiatives to ensure that all students are centered in our corner of the curricular community,” she says, including Ramadan academic testing sessions at sunrise for fasting students and exam support for learners pursuing summer credits towards degree completion. “For me, the Rammy is more than just a playful award,” she says. “It’s a nod that says your work matters.”

Lori Ciccomascolo

Ciccomascolo, associate vice president of Student Affairs and Student Success and professor in the School of Education, stepped into a leadership role on the curricular obstacles sub-committee when needed. She says she was proud to co-chair the team with Jennifer Burgess. Their subcommittee examined data on historically excluded students’ grades in gateway courses, then created solutions to support students’ future academic success.

Aura Fajardo Grandidge

The curricular obstacles team is not a fun teambuilder on the Quad but one that looks at academic issues that impact student success. CELS’ Grandidge’s commitment to retention made her a major contributor to this important team, which strives to lower the barriers for academic student success.

Sam Adams

Adams, director of emergency management, was URI’s go-to person for anything and everything related to personal protective equipment throughout the pandemic.

Bobby Britto-Oliveira

Britto-Oliveira led a robust Black History Month in February, providing programming from a workshop with alumna muralist AGONZA ’16 to an inspirational King Unity Luncheon featuring Wilson Kwamogi Okello M.S. ’12.

Rabia Hos

Hos’ research enhances the educational opportunities of immigrant and refugee adolescent English learners in secondary schools. “As someone who is a first-generation college graduate in my family,” the School of Education associate professor says, “my aim is to continue supporting and advocating for students who have been historically excluded and resilient, especially multilingual students, in educational spaces.”

Kim Stack

Stack’s colleagues recognized her commitment to the URI community and leadership in advancing equity and diversity work related to access, retention, and student success.

John Olerio

Olerio was also recognized for his commitment to URI and work toward improved access, retention, and student success. In addition, Olerio was recognized for creating the URI Summer Pell Completion Program.

“It is pretty wonderful to be able to recognize the good work staff, faculty, and departments contribute, especially when we think about equity,” says Stack. “We are looking forward to continuing to work with these departments and partners in the year ahead and invite others to work with us to share ideas on ways to make the URI experience better for all of our students.”

To learn more about student success efforts at URI in the year ahead, or to partner with the Student Success team, contact Stack at or 874-4777.