URI History and Timeline
Land Grant colleges were the brainchild of Senator Justin S. Morrill of Vermont to provide funding for higher education by sale of public lands. On July 2, 1862 , with our country engaged in a great civil war, Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill’s Land Grant Act, which gave to each state thirty thousand acres of public lands for each senator and representative in Congress. The proceeds arising from sale, were to be invested, and the annual income was to be, in the words of the Morrill Act, “inviolably appropriated by each state, to the endowment, support and maintenance, of at least one college, where the leading object shall be, without excluding, other scientific or classical studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning, as are related to agriculture, and mechanic arts, in such manner, as the Legislature of the states, may respectively prescribe, in order to promote, the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes, in the several pursuits and professions in life.”
The Rhode Island General Assembly of 1863 authorized the Governor to accept and receive the funds for the sale of 120,000 acres in Kansas Territory , upon the terms and conditions of the Land Grant Act. The Governor was also authorized to transfer to Brown University all the funds this state received if the institution agreed to assume all obligations imposed upon the state in the Land Grant Act. Thus Brown University became the Land Grant College of Rhode Island.
The University of Rhode Island , the state’s current Land, Sea and Urban Grant public research institution, had humble beginnings as the state’s Agricultural Experiment Station and agricultural school chartered in 1888. Using funds from the Federal Act to Establish Agricultural Experiment Stations (or the Hatch Act of 1887 that authorized $5000 annually to each state for agricultural research), state, municipal, and private matching funds were raised by local citizens in South Kingstown, including Jeremiah Peckham, Jr., Thomas G. Hazard and Bernon E. Helms, the Kingston postmaster. For a total of $5000, the 140-acre Oliver Watson Farm was purchased as a site for the experiment station and school. The Watson Farm House, now restored and listed as an historic landmark, still stands on the campus.
1888 to 1930
In July 1888, the Board of Managers met at the Farm in Kingston for the first time, and in May 1889, engaged John H. Washburn as Principal of the State Agricultural School. He assumed his duties in October 1889, and began at once to organize the school, which opened in September 1890. A few weeks earlier, Congress passed an amendment to the Land Grant Act–known as the “Second Morrill Act–” authorizing substantial, annual, federal appropriation in support of colleges established under the Act of 1862.
In 1889, the Agricultural Experiment Station building, later named Taft Hall for Governor Royal C. Taft, was completed to house the faculty and laboratories of the Agricultural Experiment Station. Later in 1890 and 1891, South Hall, College Hall (including the first library) and the Ladd Laboratory, named after Governor Herbert W. Ladd, were completed to house the agricultural school students and faculty.
With strong support from the state’s Grange organizations and an infusion of federal funds from the Second Morrill Act, on May 19, 1892 the name of the State Agricultural School was changed to the Rhode Island College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts (RICA&M). It was a day of great rejoicing in Kingston ,– a cannon now located on the southwest corner of the quadrangle, was borrowed for the celebration from a sympathetic townsperson. Student enthusiasm, however, excelled the tensile strength of the cannon, as is evidenced by the present fragmented condition of “Old Ben Butler.” The first class of 17 members (including URI’s first graduate (alphabetically) George E. Adams who later in 1917 became dean of the School of Agriculture) graduated two years later. Dr. Washburn (being Principal of the State Agricultural School) became the first president of the college. In September 1892, the college opened with its courses of study in Agriculture and in Mechanics (or mechanical engineering) extended to four years.
The year 1894 was an important one in the life of the new college. In May, an agreement was entered into between the State and Brown University whereby the Morrill Land Grant Funds became available to the College, establishing RICA&M as Rhode Island ‘s Land Grant College. Another highlight of the year was the appointment, of Captain William Wallace Wotherspoon, as the first Professor of Military Science and Tactics. His services were terminated by his transfer to the Spanish-American War three years later. But during his brief assignment, he had seen the construction and completion of Lippitt Hall (named after Governor Charles W. Lippitt) as a drill hall and armory in 1897. And in his words, “by sparing no effort to instill into the cadets a sense of the importance of the work begun” he had established URI’s military tradition that continues on today in our ROTC Program. Captain Wotherspoon gave further inspiration and stimulus to military work at the college by his own advancement to Major General in 1912, and to Army Chief of Staff in 1914.
The year 1895 promised to be one of marked growth for the college. But the situation soon changed! On Sunday, January 27, 1895 , while most of the young men and faculty were at church, College Hall caught on fire. With wind blowing at 40 miles an hour, the building was consumed in forty-five minutes. The institution had received a staggering blow. However, with united effort, faculty and students set themselves to the task of rehabilitating the college. The report of President Washburn bears the following testimony, “Within a week after the fire we had completed the carpenter shop; in two weeks we built the barracks, also a building for laboratory and classroom work in botany —– all temporary buildings”. College Hall was rebuilt as Davis Hall in honor of Governor John W. Davis.
In 1896, the National Land-Grant College Association (the forerunner of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges) adopted the report of its Committee on Entrance Requirements, Courses of Study and Degrees. This report emphasized the desirability of degrees awarded by the land-grant colleges, representing work that would be approximately uniform in character and scope. This action made it necessary for RICA&M, to raise admission standards, despite the fact that many of Rhode Island ‘s country high schools were not prepared to furnish candidates that met the higher requirements. This led to the decision to establish a two-year preparatory high school department, in 1898, with Marshall H. Tyler as Headmaster. This preparatory school was continued for ten years until 1908, when Tyler moved on to chair the college’s Mathematics Department.
Also in 1896, the Agricultural Experiment Station established Rhode Island ‘s first marine laboratory at the end of Succotash Road in the village of Jerusalem. After particularly intense fishkills in Point Judith Pond during the summer of 1895, fishermen and oyster farmers of the pond approached scientists at the Rhode Island Agricultural Experiment Station to inquire if they could explore the reasons for the fishkill and somehow solve the problem. As a result of this inquiry, Dr. G.A. Field of the Experiment Station established Jerusalem to study oyster and lobster biology, and recommendations from the lab led to the establishment of a permanent breachway to the pond and establishment of the Port of Galilee. This laboratory, now known as the Jerusalem Coastal Fisheries Laboratory operated by the RI DEM Division of Fish and Wildlife, is the one of the oldest continuously operating marine laboratories in the United States. The RIAES Marine Laboratory was predated only by the U.S. Fisheries Commission Laboratory in Woods Hole, founded in 1875 by U.S. Fisheries Commissioner Spencer F. Baird, and the Marine Biological Laboratory, also founded in Woods Hole in 1888 by the famed Harvard naturalist Louis Agassiz.
At the turn of the 20th century, the growth of the college slowed, with few additions to the facilities for over a decade. The enthusiasm and support for the college of many influential citizens waned, and indifference was evident with many of the agricultural leaders of the state. Dr. Washburn, whose work had been so effective in organizing the State Agricultural School , and who served as president of the college for over ten years, resigned in August, 1902. His work for the college had been that of a pioneer. Among his noteworthy contributions was the establishment of special short courses in agriculture for Rhode Island ‘s farmers. Among these was the first in the country six-week Poultry School focusing on husbandry of the famed Rhode Island Red. Other early studies initiated by Washburn included analysis of soils and development of fertilizers, improvements in production of potatoes and apples, as well as dairy studies and the studies of grasses and other forage and pasture crops.
Dr. Homer J. Wheeler was made Acting-President upon the resignation of Dr. Washburn, and served for seven months. During this short period, he made a contribution of far-reaching importance by securing a $3, 000 state appropriation for student labor. This appropriation continued for many years and helped many young men and women to secure an education.
The shortest administration in the history of the University was that of Kenyon L. Butterfieldbeginning in April, 1903, and ending in June, 1906. President Butterfield was an enthusiastic leader, distinguished by his breadth of view and his marked administrative ability. He strove to make the college of greater service, to greater numbers of Rhode Islanders. This led to the organization of an extension department in the college in April, 1904, with Professor A. E. Stene as Superintendent of College Extension. A much expanded extension service continues today as Rhode Island Cooperative Extension. URI, like all Land Grant Universities , is now organized on the three cardinal points, — research, classroom instruction and extension work, as first pioneered by President Butterfield. Butterfield left Rhode Island to assume the presidency of the Massachusetts Agricultural College (MAC, now University of Massachusetts), where he established an extension program there as well. While at MAC he assisted in the drafting of the federal Smith-Lever Act of 1914 that established a Cooperative Extension Service at all Land Grant Colleges nationwide. Thus President Butterfield and RICA&M made an indelible mark on how publicly funded higher education is carried out throughout the United States.
Undoubtedly, President Butterfield had much to do with the selection of Dr. Howard Edwards as his successor. The choice was a most fortunate one for the college and the state and resulted in an administration that carried the college steadily forward for nearly a quarter of a century.
In his first annual report as President, Dr. Edwards discussed the need of revising the academic program of the college and proposed Home Economics as a women’s course of study, thus admitting women into the college. President Edwards’ method of providing the physical accommodations necessary for the Home Economics course was unique. He asked for a special state appropriation of $80, 000, to build a new men’s dormitory. The appropriation, although greatly reduced in amount, gave the college its first major building (East Hall) in over ten years. Use of East Hall as the men’s dormitory permitted the remodeling of Davis Hall and its use as a women’s dormitory, which in turn made it possible to offer the Home Economics course in the fall of 1909.
It was during the Edwards Presidency that the first master’s degree was awarded in 1907. A year later in 1908, the fraternity system began on campus, with the first fraternity, Rho Iota Kappa, followed by the first national fraternity (Theta Chi) in 1910, and the first fraternity house built by Beta Phi in 1912.
In addition to beginning graduate education, the Greek system and admission of women to RICA&M, President Edwards in 1908 was responsible for urging a study commission to assess the value of the college in contributing to the economic well-being of the state. In April, 1909, the study commission, headed by the Dr. Walter E. Ranger, State Commissioner of Schools, presented its report. The commission’s report was a strong endorsement of the college, recommending greatly increased financial support from the state. The commission concluded its report with fifteen specific recommendations to increase the value of the college to the State. The first recommendation, immediately adopted in 1909, was the change in name to Rhode Island State College.
As Commissioner of Education, it fell to Dr. Ranger to formulate the commission’s recommendations. But later as President of the Board of Managers, he gave generously of his time and of his energies in helping to carry out the commission’s recommendations. His great vision and services to the college and to the state are honored by Ranger Hall, named so upon its completion in 1913.
World War I in 1917 provided trying times for the college. A total of 301 young men from the college served in the war, many of whom were trained in the Student Army Training Corps. Due to the war and very few students on campus, classes were suspended between April 28, 1918 and January 2, 1919. President Edwards wrote of the student sacrifice, “The college is poor, in physical wealth, and resources; it numbers among its friends, few of high position, large possessions, or powerful influence, but it has here, evidence of a wealth, of capable service, of high sense of duty, of heroic sacrifice, that must forever be preserved, as its most cherished tradition, and that compels, the gratitude and respect of the people of our state. Somewhere, somehow, we must preserve this story, in imperishable stone and bronze.”
In June, 1922, President Edwards dedicated the college war memorial, “in memory of a gallantry, devotion, and sacrifice that has been surpassed, never and nowhere”. The memorial, near the upper entrance to the campus consists of a huge granite boulder bearing a large bronze plaque on which are recorded, twenty-three names of students who perished in Europe. In June, 1928, the Memorial Gateway on Upper College Road was dedicated as a part of this War Memorial.
The decade of the 1920s was a period of considerable growth for Rhode Island State College. The faculty and staff of the College of Agriculture and the Agricultural Experiment Station were outgrowing their quarters in Taft Hall, so they moved in 1921 into Washburn Hall upon its completion. A major building campaign led to the completion in 1928 of Bliss Hall (named after Zenias Bliss, a state legislator instrumental in securing funding) to house the Engineering classrooms and laboratories. Also that year, Rodman Hall was completed as a gymnasium, and Edwards Auditorium opened as the largest lecture hall and performing arts center on campus. Additionally in 1928, East Farm, one mile south of campus on Kingstown Road, was acquired and became the site for orchard crop and poultry research.
Upon the death of President Edwards in April 1930, John Barlow, Dean of Science, was appointed as Acting President. In this capacity, he served the college faithfully for more than a year. Ten years later in 1940, he was again called to serve in a similar capacity for a more extended period.
TIMELINE 1931 TO PRESENT
1932. Rhode Island State College reorganized into three schools: the School of Engineering , the School of Science and Business, and the School of Agriculture and Home Economics; and a program in aeronautical engineering began in the Department of Mechanical Engineering with the hire of Russian émigré Professors Igor Sikorski and Nicholas Alexander. Research at the college led to aircraft and helicopter prototypes.
1934. Asa Sweet and Edward Sweet lands were purchased increasing the size of the campus toward the west side of campus
1936. The Narragansett Marine Laboratory was established at the end of South Ferry Road (now the Helen Mosby Center at the Narragansett Bay Campus); The Animal Husbandry Facility (Dairy Barn) was completed, with much of the milk and food used in the dormitories produced directly on campus; Eleanor Roosevelt Hall was dedicated by the First Lady as a women’s dormitory; Quinn Hall, named after Governor Robert E. Quinn, was completed to house the Home Economics program; the Central Heating Plant was completed behind Lippitt Hall; and a major section of Peckham Farm was purchased.
1938. Meade Stadium was completed and named for John E. Meade, a college alumnus, state legislator, and an extraordinary fan and booster of the football program.
1939. Board of Trustees of State Colleges was established by Act of the General Assembly.
1940. Dr. John Barlow was installed as Acting President.
1941. Carl R. Woodward was installed as the college’s fifth President.
1942. The onset of World War II prompted acceleration of instructional programs and institution of a summer term; School of Science and Business reorganized into separate schools of Science and Business Administration; the Engineering Experiment Station is established; the Industrial Extension Division is established.
1943. An Army Specialized Training Unit is assigned to the college by the federal government to augment the Military Science program.
1944. Additional lands adjacent to Peckham Farm were purchased; The Industrial Extension Division was replaced by the Division of General College Extension; and the war-accelerated instructional program was discontinued in September.
1945. The degree program in nursing was established under the leadership of Prof. Louisa White as a Division in the School of Agriculture and Home Economics; the college was further expanded by purchase of the Sherman Farm.
1946. Returning armed forces and the G.I. Bill of Rights greatly expanded enrollments in the college: a Quonset hut colony was established as an emergency housing project; the School of Agriculture and Home Economics was reorganized into separate schools of Agriculture and Home Economics; Studies in turfgrass science were initiated in the agronomy program by Dr. Robert Smith Bell, the first program of study and research of its type in the nation.
1948. The School of Arts and Sciences was established; The Bachelor of Arts degree was authorized by the Board of Trustees; and the aeronautical engineering program was discontinued.
1949. The Bachelors of Arts degree was awarded for the first time at June commencement.
1950. Butterfield and Bressler Halls, named for the former college Presidents, were opened as dormitories and the poultry science program made a significant national contribution in disease research. Research on the drug sulfaquinoxaline to prevent avian coccidiosis, a major killer of chickens led the way to explosive growth in the poultry industry nationwide.President Carl Woodward noted that industry savings from this contribution by Professor John P. Delaplane alone had an economic value that greatly exceeded the entire cost of running the Experiment Station for the previous 50 years.
1951. The name of Rhode Island State College was changed to University of Rhode Island by an act of the General Assembly; School of Nursing was established in the College of Home Economics.
1953. The URI Chapter of the Sigma Xi, national scientific honor society was established; The Frank W. Keaney Gymnasium was opened, named for a long-serving and beloved coach, chemistry professor and athletic director; The Laboratory for Scientific Criminal Investigation was established as Rhode Island ‘s first crime lab.
1954. The URI Memorial Union Building was dedicated to students who lost their lives overseas during World War II.
1957. College of Pharmacy was established with Dr. Heber W. Youngken Jr. as founding dean and the URI Foundation was established. South Hall was demolished to make way for a new Administration Building .
1958. Dr. Francis H. Horn was installed as URI’s sixth President; In the wake of Sputnik and a growing emphasis on science and engineering, the degree of Doctor of Philosophy was authorized by the Board of Trustees; The Child Development Center was established; and Hutchinson , Peck and Adams Residence Halls were opened, as was Hope Dining Hall.
1959. Woodward Hall, named for President Carl R. Woodward was opened to house faculty and administration of the College of Agriculture . A feature of the building was a small outlet store for campus-raised agricultural products to raise funds for the College; The Administration Building, later renamed the Albert E. Carlotti Administration Building after a long serving member of the Board of Governors of Higher Education, was opened; The URI Computer Laboratory was established; the Potter Infirmary Building (named for Dr. Henry B. Potter, a long-serving college physician) was opened; and Wales (named for former dean Royal Linfield Wales) and Kelley (named for the Board of Trustees Chairman Livingston Kelley) Halls were opened to house faculty and laboratories of the College of Engineering.
1960. The Fish Oceanographic Laboratory was dedicated and named for famed URI Oceanographers Drs. Charles and Marie Fish who were pioneers in the field of underwater acoustics; Independence Hall was opened to greatly increase the number of classrooms on campus; Davis Hall and East Hall were remodeled as academic buildings; The Bureau of Government Research was established and the Faculty Senate was established by act of the General Assembly.
1961. The Graduate School of Oceanography was established as a College with Dr. John A. Knauss as founding dean (Knauss later serving as Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 1989-1993); Tucker, Merrow and Browning Residence Halls were opened; and Gilbreth Hall (named in honor of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth of Gilbreth, Inc. a prominent industrial engineering firm) was opened to house College of Engineering faculty and laboratories.
1962. Crawford Hall (named to honor former dean T. Stephen Crawford) was opened to house faculty and laboratories of the College of Engineering ; The W. Alton Jones Campus was acquired (once the former fishing retreat of Cities Service Oil Company Chairman W. Alton Jones. The retreat is said to be the model for Camp David which was established by frequent visitor President Dwight D. Eisenhower); The College of Nursing was formed from the School of Nursing in the College of Home Economics and the research vessel R/V Trident was commissioned.
1963. Tyler Hall (named in honor of Marshall Henry Tyler, Chairman of Mathematics Department 1906-1942) opened to house the Departments of Mathematics and Computer Science, and to house the URI Computer Center ; The Graduate School of Library Science was established, and Weldin and Barlow Residence Halls were opened.
1964. Fogarty Hall named for U.S. Congressman John E. Fogarty (1940-67), a noted champion of improved healthcare policies, was opened to house faculty and laboratories of the College of Pharmacy ; and the ca. 1790 Watson Farm House was restored.
1965. An addition to the Memorial Union Building was completed; The University Library building opened; The Law of the Sea Institute was established by Dean Knauss and Dr. Lewis M. Alexander (Professor and Chairman of Geography and Marine Affairs); The Sherman Maintenance Building was opened; the Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees were authorized by the Board of Trustees; The Research Center in Business and Economics was established and the Water Resources Research Center was established.
1966. Aldrich, Burnside, Coddington, Dorr, Ellery, and Hopkins Residence Halls were opened, as was the Roger Williams Dining Hall. The Justin S. Morrill Science Building was opened; the Fine Arts Center (Phase I) was opened; The Institute of Environmental Biology established; and following the model of the Morrill, Hatch, and Smith-Lever Land Grant Acts; Senator Claiborne Pell authored the National Sea Grant College Act, assisted by Dean Knauss and Dr. L. Alexander.
1967. Ballentine Hall (named in honor of former dean George Andrew Ballantine) opened to house the College of Business Administration ; F. Don James was installed as Acting President; the Board of Trustees authorizes the awarding of Associate in Science (A.S.) degrees in Fisheries and Marine Technology and the research vessel R/V Gail Ann was commissioned
1968. Kelley Hall Research Annex was completed; The Claiborne Pell Marine Science Library and the Francis H. Horn Oceanographic Laboratory Francis H. Horn were dedicated at the Narragansett Bay Campus; URI’s first Sea Grant was received; The New England Marine Resources Information Program was established; The Talent Development Program began; the Gordon Research Conference Center was brought to URI by center director and long-serving chemistry professor Alexander M. Cruikshank; the College of Agriculture was renamed College of Resource Development and Werner A. Baum was installed as URI’s seventh President.
1969. Home Management Center established; Curriculum Research and Development Center established; Heathman Residence Hall opened; URI Faculty Center (later renamed the University Club) was established; International Center for Marine Resource Development was established and Rhode Island General Assembly passed the Education Reform Act establishing the Board of Regents for Higher Education.
1970. Fayerweather and Gorham residence halls opened; Consortium for the Development of Technology established; and Rhode Island Marine Advisory Service (later Rhode Island Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service) was established in parallel to Rhode Island Cooperative Extension.
1971. Tootell Aquatic Sports Center (named after long serving coach Fredric Delmont Tootell) opened; The Fine Arts Center (Phase II) opened; the Whispering Pine Conference Center at the W. Alton Jones Campus opened; The Administrative Services Center (campus postal and printing services building) opened; The Freshwater Aquaculture Center opened at East Farm; The Board of Regents for Higher Education assumed direction of higher education as per Education Reform Act of 1969 and URI was designated as one of the first four Sea Grant Colleges and the Pell Marine Science Library was designated as the National Sea Grant Depository.
1972. Biological Science Center opened; The Chafee Social Science Building opened, named for former governor and U.S. senator John H. Chaffee ; University College established; Coastal Resources Center established and Graduate student’s apartment complex (Graduate Village) opened.
1973. William R. Ferrante was appointed as Acting President; Research Aquarium (later renamed Ann Gall Durbin Research Aquarium Facility) opened; Science Research and Nature Preserve Buildings completed at W. Alton Jones Campus; The Community Planning Building opened.
1974. Dr. Frank R. Newman was installed as eighth president of the University; Laboratory for the Study of Information Science was founded.
1975. The University Library was expanded.
1976. Research ship R/V Trident decommissioned and the R/V Endeavor commissioned to take its place. The Marine Ecosystems Research Laboratory (MERL) began operations at the Narragansett Bay Campus as a first-of-its-kind system of large tanks or mesocosms in which shallow coastal ecosystems (such as Narragansett Bay) can be simulated and studied.
1977. Bachelor of General Studies was established; White Hall, named for founding Professor Louisa White, was dedicated and opened to house the faculty and classrooms of the College of Nursing; The URI Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the national liberal arts honor society, was established; The Center for Ocean Management Studies was established; The Center for Energy Study was established; National Coastal Information Center was established.
1978. College of Home Economics was reorganized as the College of Human Science and Services; and the Norman D. Watkins Laboratory and Corless Auditorium were dedicated and opened at the Narragansett Bay Campus.
1979. Upper College Road Gateway Information Kiosk was opened.
1980. Institute for Human Science and Services established; and the Robotics Research Center was established in the College of Engineering .
1981. Center for Atmospheric Chemistry established; Division of University Extension changed to College of Continuing Education ; and the Board of Governors for Higher Education was established by act of the General Assembly.
1983. The Marine Resources Building was opened at the Narragansett Bay Campus to house the Division of Marine Resources; the Small Business Development Center was established and Dr. Edward D. Eddy was installed as URI’s ninth President.
1984. Labor Research Center was established; and the Food Science and Nutrition Research Center was established on Fairgrounds Road in West Kingston .
1985. The Applied Engineering Lab and an addition to the Pastore Chemical Laboratory increased the number of laboratory classrooms for chemistry students; The URI Student Alumni Association was founded; and the Great Swamp Gazette was URI’s alternative student news and creative writing publication.
1986. An anatomy laboratory named for Dr. Robert DeWolf, a long-time professor of anatomy was dedicated and opened as a laboratory classroom; The URI Biotechnology Center was established by Dr. Richard Traxler; The Associate’s Degree program in Fisheries and Marine Technology was discontinued; and the Division of Marine Resources was changed to Office of Marine Programs.
1988. The centennial celebration of the Agricultural Experiment Station was held; The Institute for International Business was established and the Board of Governors for Higher Education approved the award of the degree Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (B.L.A.).
1989. The Fisheries and Marine Technology Building was opened at East Farm; Pacific-Basin Capital Markets Research Center was established in the College of Business Administration and the Research Institute for Telecommunications and Information Marketing was established.
1990. W. Alton Jones Campus Environmental Education Center was designated a National Center for Environmental Education.
1991. Dr. Robert L. Carothers was installed as URI’s tenth President; Mackal Field House was opened; the Library renovation began; The Social Sciences Research Center was built on Flagg Road; The Kirk Center for Advanced Technology, named for Chester H. Kirk, URI graduate and President of Amtrol Corporation, was dedicated; and the Center for Atmospheric Chemistry building was opened at the Narragansett Bay Campus.
1992. URI’s Centennial Year featured many celebrations including the student-led “URI 100” event on the Quad, and iconic entertainer Bob Hope joined as the 1992 commencement speaker. In addition, the Memorial Union was renovated and expanded; The Keaney Gymnasium was remodeled; the Sycamore Conference Lodge was opened at the W. Alton Jones Campus and the Sailing Pavilion was renovated on upper Point Judith Pond.
1993. The $13.5M renovation of the URI Library was completed. The Centennial Walk was installed on the Quadrangle with 3,500 personally inscribed bricks. The Memorial Student Union was renovated at a cost of $5.3M, the first Residence Hall renovations beging and the Dining Services Distribution Center was opened on the corner of Flagg and Plains Roads. Also in 1993, the URI Sailing Team was number one, earning the top spot among 20 leading college and university team.
1994. URI launched its first-ever $50 million Capital Campaign and a groundbreaking was held for the Coastal Institute on the Narragansett Bay Campus.
1995. The Centennial Scholars program began for top-ranking high school students; URI was designated an Urban Grant Institution.
1996. College of Continuing Education moved into restored Shepard’s Building in Downtown Providence; and the Coastal Institute Building is opened at the Narragansett Bay Campus. Bond support: URI receives $33.8 million for rehabilitation of Ballentine, Green, and Ranger Halls.
1997. The Center for Student Leadership Development was created; Capital Campaign Finale, raised more than $67 million; Groundbreaking for the Coastal Institute on the Kingston Campus; and started the $65 million seven-year plan to completely renovate residence halls.
1998. The new Multicultural Center was opened; The College of Continuing Education was renamed the Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Continuing Education; the College of Resource Development was renamed the College of the Environment and Life Sciences; and the Samuel Slater Ocean Technology Center opened at the Narragansett Bay Campus. Bond support: URI receives $20.99 million for rehabilitation of Lippitt and Independence Halls.
1999. The International Engineering Program House was opened on Upper College Road to house students in the IE Program; URI’s Vietnam Memorial was dedicated; the Coastal Institute on the Kingston Campus was completed; and the Research Aquarium Facility at the Narragansett Bay Campus was dedicated to Oceanography Professor Dr. Ann Gall Durbin.
2000. The Turfgrass Research Center is named in honor of Dr. Conrad Richard Skogley, who as a professor from 1960 to 1990 contributed heavily to the growth of URI’s turfgrass research and extension programs. The $64 million, seven-year residential living renovation plan began, creating the Freshman Village, and construction of the Thomas M. Ryan Center began. Bond support: voters supported $36.95 million bond for residence halls at URI.
2001. The Coastal Institute Building was opened on the Kingston Campus; and the Labor Research Center was named for its founder Dr. Charles E. Schmidt; the URI Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Center was created.
2002. The URI Foundation Building was completed at the Corner of Fortin and Upper College Roads; the Ryan Center was opened and named for CVS Corporation President & URI Alumnus (class of 1975), Thomas M. Ryan; the Niles Farmstead Cemetery was dedicated; the Bradford R. Boss Ice Arena was opened; and a Memorial to the URI Alumni Victims of the 9-11-2001 attacks was dedicated.
2003. Ballentine Hall was renovated and expanded to better serve the College of Business Administration ; Green Hall was restored and reestablished as URI’s signature building; and the Undergraduate Admission Building was designated as Newman Hall, after President Frank R. Newman; and the Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN) Laboratory was opened.
2004. The Blount Aquaculture Research Laboratory was opened at the Narragansett Bay Campus. Bond Support: Rhode Island voters supported $20,000,000 for construction, renovation, and rehabilitation residence halls; $14,000,000 for the Pell Library-Undersea Exploration Center; and $50,000,000 for the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences.
2005. The URI Alumni Center was opened. Rodman Hall renovation for accessibility and Landscape Design department completed. The Princeton Review named the University a “college with a conscience” and URI was featured in The Princeton Review’s Colleges With A Conscience: 81 Great Schools with Outstanding Community Involvement (Random House).
2006. Independence Hall was reopened after extensive renovation; Meade Athletic Field was improved by addition of grandstands alongside the Ryan Center; the Emergency Medical Services Building was opened. Bond Support: Rhode Island voters approve $65 million for URI’s new College of Pharmacy building.
2007. The Second International Engineering House named for Dr. Heidi Kirk Duffy, chairperson of the Advisory Council for the International Engineering Program was opened; the Hope Commons student dining facility was opened; three residence halls, Eddy, Wiley, and Garrahy Hall, named for former Governor J. Joseph Garrahy, were opened along Flagg Road.
2008. Independence Hall was renamed Swan Hall after M. Beverly Swan, who served as Provost from 1991 to 2008; the Harrington School of Communications and Media was established; Lippitt Hall was refurbished with its exterior restored; the Cooperative Extension center was rededicated as the Kathleen M. Mallon Outreach Center in memory of a respected extension educator and assistant to the President.
2009. Dr. David M. Dooley was appointed as the University’s 11th President. A groundbreaking was held for the College of Pharmacy Building and the $54 million Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences opened. On the Narragansett Bay Campus, the $15 million Ocean Science & Exploration Center and the Pell Marine Science Library opened. The centerpiece of the 41,000 square-foot facility is the Inner Space Center, founded by Professor Robert Ballard.
2010. An inaugural ceremony was held for President David M. Dooley, Ph.D., April 7-8. During renovation of Edwards Hall, a set of depression-era murals by Providence artist Gino Conti were discovered and restored. Rhode Island voters approved construction of the $70 million Center for Chemical and Forensic Sciences, completion expected the fall of 2016. The Norman M. Fain Hillel Center opened.
2011. The Ranger-Green campus landscaping and beautification project was completed.
2012. The $75 million College of Pharmacy building opened and became the largest academic building on the Kingston campus. The most energy efficient residential unit, Hillside Hall was opened.
2013. The College of Pharmacy Courtyard and Heber W. Youngken Jr. Medicinal Plant Garden opened.
2014: Thomas M. Ryan, a 1975 pharmacy graduate and the former chairman, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, and his wife, Cathy, made the largest private donation in URI’s history to establish the George & Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience. The Institute would launch a new era in brain science teaching and research at the University and in Rhode Island. The Ryan Family Student-Athlete Center and the Eleanor Carlson Strength & Conditioning Center opened to benefit all URI student-athletes. Bond Support: Rhode Island voters approve construction of the $125M Engineering complex, completion expected in 2019 for the 195,000 square foot facility.
2015. The U.S. Small Business Administration selected the University to host the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center. URI opened the $2.1M Gender and Sexuality Center, located on the University’s Upper College Road. URI was the first in the nation to design and build a free standing LGBTQ Center. Butterfield Dining Hall was renovated and expanded.
2016. The Richard E. Beaupre Center for Chemical and Forensic Sciences opened. The $68 million center is named for Richard Beaupre ’62, Hon. ’03 who is founder and chief executive officer of the Lincoln-based photochemical etching company ChemArt. The fall of 2016 was also the inaugural semester for URI’s College of Health Sciences on the Kingston campus, and the College of Education and Professional Studies on the Kingston and Providence campuses. The new colleges aligned the University’s academic resources to focus on 21st Century needs.