Black Scholar Awards

University of Rhode Island Kingston, RI 02881

cunnigen@mail.uri.eduPhone: (401) 874-4302

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Welcome to the

Black Scholar Awards Program

Over a decade ago, University of Rhode Island Black faculty members established the Black Scholar Awards Program. In the University’s history, it was the first and only awards program founded with the primary objective to acknowledge the diverse achievements and contributions of students of African descent. The program has recognized hundreds of students who have made outstanding contributions to the university, state, and nation. It has become the type of vehicle for alumni support that the founders envisioned at its inception. The event offers a rare opportunity for faculty, staff, students, alumni, community leaders, family, friends, and other colleagues to recognize student accomplishments in the areas of community service, university service, athletics, leadership, arts, science, research, and scholarship.

The program has become an integral part of the university’s and the alumni association’s commitment to diversity on the campus. It continues to provide recognition for a segment of the university’s community that needs such attention. We encourage you to browse our web site. It contains historical informationpast programsvideo linksnomination information, and award categories. The web site was designed to provide information to the community about the program as well as an opportunity to nominate candidates for future programs.

Donald Cunnigen, Ph.D.
Founder and Co-Chairperson
Black Scholar Awards Program

Black Scholar Awards Call For Nomination


Read the Official News Release


Congratulations to all the 2014 BSA recipients!


May 6, 2013- Balancing four majors would make most students wince, but Eugenio Fernandez Jr. found a way to do just that, while still enjoying his college years at the University of Rhode Island. Fernandez will graduate with a doctor of pharmacy degree, master of business administration, bachelor's degree in biology, and a bachelor's degree in psychology. Oh, and he is also fluent in Spanish. ...Read the article...


URI Grad Students Marry

Bryana White and Marc Hardge
Bryana White, a URI Psychology Ph.D. candidate, was married to Marc Hardge, a URI English graduate student and '99 Hardge Award recipient, at the Johnson and Wales Inn, Seekonk, Massachusetts on December 29, 2011.

Booker Urges Class of 2011 to Stand Tall

Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Bookerdelivered an inspiring message to graduates as the 2011 URI commencement speaker. Read the full story



Who is... Noreen Coachman?

Bryana White and Marc Hardge She earned a bachelor's degree from URI in 1973, and an M.D. from Brown University Medical School in 1984. Before her death at a young age from cancer, she was a staff physician in radiation oncology at Roger Williams Medical Center and a clinical instructor at Brown University. As a recipient of the American Cancer Society's Clinical Oncology Award, she specialized in radiation therapy for locally advanced prostate cancer and in combined modality treatment with chemotherapy in locally advanced head, neck, and pancreatic cancers.

William Gould?

Bryana White and Marc Hardge His great-grandfather (also William Gould) escaped slavery in 1862 by rowing to a Union gunboat patrolling off the coast of Wilmington, NC. William Gould IV (Class of '58), has written a book about this and other exploits. Read more...

Reverend Arthur Hardge?

Bryana White and Marc Hardge He was a leader of the Civil Rights Movement, arrested and jailed in Florida for refusing to leave a restaurant reserved for whites and later becoming the first black man in Rhode Island to head a state agency. Read more...

Harvey Robert Turner?

Bryana White and Marc Hardge He was the first Black graduate of the University of Rhode Island in 1914. He majored in civil engineering and was a member of the football and track teams. The 1936 alumni directory listed his occupation an assistant treasurer of Prairie View State College in Texas.

Estes Arnathia Benson?

Bryana White and Marc Hardge Estes Arnathia Benson (1956-1997) was a cum laude graduate in the class of 1978 at the University of Rhode Island. At the University, he starred in football. He received the Fifth Quarter Club Scholar Athlete Award. He was a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. After graduating, he studied at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Subsequently, he received a Master of Business Administration from Vanderbilt University. Believing that work and travel were essential to his pursuit of knowledge; Estes spent a year in Israel on a kibbutz; a year in the Gulf of Mexico on an oil rig; and several years in various management positions in a variety of businesses, including providing affordable housing for inner-city residents. An actor and writer, he appeared in University productions, New York City Showcase Theatre, and Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities Legacy Series. He was the author of the Legacy drama, “Fighting to be American: Rhode Islander in the Civil War." As a volunteer throughout New England, he presented educational activities on drug and alcohol abuse to young people.

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