Many factors make the best learning experiences for URI students, from top faculty to state-of-the-art facilities to hands-on experiences with the most current tools of a trade. These are often made possible through the generosity of benefactors who build the University into their estate plans and philanthropic activities.
With an affinity for URI rivaled only by their love of sailing, brothers John ’40 and David Parker ’34, the sons of a Westerly granite quarry worker, provided about $2.5 million for their alma mater in their estate plans. David received his URI bachelor’s degree in chemistry and became a chemist for the Naval Underwater Systems Center in New London, Connecticut. John earned his URI bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and was a URI mechanical engineering professor for 25 years. He died in 2011, David in 2001.
The Parkers’ gift will be used to support two endowments, one providing scholarships to undergraduates studying ocean engineering; the other providing library resources to support the engineering curriculum, as well as the College of Engineering’s upcoming building campaign that will give today’s URI students cutting-edge engineering labs, equipment, and classrooms.
College of Engineering Dean Raymond Wright said, “John was well respected and passionately committed to teaching students about engineering. The Parker brothers’ gifts will have a tremendous tangible impact on the College, its faculty, and its students.”
Alan R. Spachman ’69, M.B.A.’71, and his wife, Florence, have funded a professorship to help attract and retain outstanding faculty specializing in human resources, labor management, and workforce strategies and management. As a result of their gift, URI students now learn best practices from Associate Professor Anthony Wheeler, one of the foremost authorities in the field and the first named Spachman Professor in Human Resource Management. Wheeler has helped design URI’s new one-year M.B.A. program, which incorporates a framework of teaching based on strategic innovation.
“Without the private support made available through professorships, we could lose outstanding faculty members like Tony Wheeler to other schools,” said Mark Higgins, dean of the College of Business Administration. “Great professors like him inspire our students to become great students and successful alumni.”
Alan Spachman himself is a perfect example. Inspired as a URI student by Professor of Industrial Relations Charles “Ted” Schmidt, Spachman turned his education into an extraordinary career, first as a human resource manager with Collins & Aikman and Frito-Lay, later as senior vice president of Progressive Corporation, and eventually as founder of the National Interstate Corporation.