The Big Chill

The University of Rhode Island recently celebrated its Big Chill weekend. The weekend featured two events – one celebrating the continuing excellence of our scholar-athletes and our intercollegiate athletics programs, the other our annual fundraising evening devoted to scholarships. Together these events emphasize the excellence of the university and the importance of our students and their achievements.

The Hall of Fame Induction event welcomed Ed Bradley (URI’s legendary men’s soccer coach), Julia Chilicki-Beasley (outstanding swimmer and rower — representing the USA at the 1996 Olympics — and influential rowing coach at URI), Tyson Wheeler (one of URI’s best men’s basketball players ever, and a leader of the 1998 Elite Eight team), and Bob White (an All-American offensive lineman on URI’s amazing 1982-1985 football teams). These individuals represent the tremendous achievements and continuing potential of intercollegiate athletics at URI, and remind us all of the importance and impact of our programs, to be sure; but, more importantly, these outstanding new members remind us of the qualities and the enduring impact of the people who become a part of URI as a result of our athletics programs.

That same weekend, the University of Rhode Island also convened many of our alumni, friends, and supporters to celebrate the achievements of our students and to contribute to their continuing success by raising critical scholarship funds. Since the Big Chill Weekends began, over $1.2 million has been raised for scholarships, including $80,000 this year. More than 400 people attended, and a wonderful time was enjoyed by all.

Special thanks to the Chairs of the Organizing Committee — John and Gail Palumbo and Kathy O’Donnell-White and Bill White — for their outstanding leadership of a great team, as well as Mark Davis, Working Chair of the Volunteer Committee. I would also like to thank everyone who attended and contributed to support our students. If you attended this year, please plan on coming back in 2012. If you were unable to attend this year, please plan ahead for the next Big Chill weekend. Scholarships for students have never been more important to the success of our students and the university.