“That Ram Band” first gained notoriety (and its nickname, “The Pride of New England”) during the 1960s and early 1970s under the direction of Don Burns. The band generally had around 150 members at that time, and gained its regional reputation in part due to impressive performances at New England Patriots and New York Giant football games. Soon after Don Burns stepped down as director of the That Ram Band, the proud tradition of the band was continued under the direction of Gene Pollart until the early 1980s.
The two decades between the early 1980s and the early 2000s was a challenging time for the URI Marching Band. The band had at least six changes of leadership, with several of its directors leaving after only a few years. Recruitment and retention became more difficult, and the membership level remained near half of what it had been during the band’s most successful era.
In the past several years, however, the Ram Marching Band has experienced a sense of rebirth. The band changed its look with new, corps-style uniforms in 2004, and received a much-needed upgrade of marching brass and percussion instruments in 2007. The membership has consistently increased over this period of time, with the 2009 band being the first since the early 1980s to contain over 100 members. With an energized membership and a revitalized relationship with alumni, the Ram Marching Band is once again fulfilling its role as “The Pride” for the University of Rhode Island.