$10 Million gift to the University of Rhode Island will enhance new engineering complex

Media Contact: Tracey Manni, 401-874-2145 |
An architectural rendering of the future URI College of Engineering complex. Courtesy of Ballinger of Philadelphia

KINGSTON, R.I., — July 10, 2019 — A $10 million gift from Michael D. Fascitelli ’78 H’08 and Elizabeth C. Fascitelli will significantly advance facilities and programs at the University of Rhode Island College of Engineering. In honor of the gift and of the Fascitellis’ longstanding commitment to the University, the engineering building will be named The Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering. The Rhode Island legislature approved the naming request and it was signed into law by the governor earlier this month.

Half of the gift will fund lab and research equipment for the Kingston Campus’ new engineering building, expected to open in fall 2019. The remaining $5 million will establish an endowed fund for the dean’s priorities.

Michael D. Fascitelli ’78 H’08 and Elizabeth C. Fascitelli
Michael D. Fascitelli ’78 H’08 and Elizabeth C. Fascitelli

“The talent and innovation coming out of URI Engineering are undeniable,” said Michael Fascitelli. “The College of Engineering has been a leading institution for the region, and its partnerships reach around the world through the International Engineering Program. Beth and I are very happy to play a part in this next phase for the College.”

Construction of the $150 million, 190,000-square-foot project started in 2017, funded through state bonds and private philanthropy. Upon completion, it will be one of the most technologically advanced in the United States, featuring flexible space for interdisciplinary collaboration and equipment essential to forward-looking research. Planned equipment includes a high-speed camera, nanoparticle analyzer, and a liquid chromatography mass spectrometer. Industry-leading technology will ensure that the College’s teaching, research, and scholarship take place in a dynamic learning environment aligned with today’s engineering workplace.

“We are deeply grateful to Mike and Beth for their investment in the College of Engineering. Their gift ensures that the new engineering facility completely fulfills its transformative potential,” said URI President David M. Dooley. “The new advanced engineering complex will be a technological achievement that will allow us to conduct state-of-the-art research and innovative teaching. It will be among the very best facilities for engineering, nationally or globally.”

Some of URI Engineering’s top areas of expertise include biotech, defense, and nanoscience. The College provides research to companies such as Pratt & Whitney, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Raytheon, and Electric Boat/General Dynamics. It is currently collaborating with the Japanese instrumentation firm, Shimadzu Corporation, headquartered in Kyoto. Recent initiatives for applied research include the Innovation Teaching Lab to create smart devices embedded in everyday objects, and a “Water for the World” lab to develop, implement, and evaluate efficient and clean technologies to provide safe water. URI has also been a pioneer in pairing a professional degree with language study, creating the dual-degree International Engineering Program in 1987 to send students to experiential learning opportunities around the world.

“Our enrollment is growing, and the work of our students and faculty is finding meaningful application in the world beyond campus,” said Dean Raymond M. Wright. “This gift from the Fascitellis will inspire even more creativity, innovation, and collaboration.”

The Fascitelli gift comes at a time of noteworthy growth for the University of Rhode Island as a whole. Recent years have shown rising enrollment, an expanded faculty, and increased research output. Philanthropic giving during that time has been keeping pace, in line with the University’s top priorities for strategic growth as it positions itself to meet the needs of an evolving higher education landscape and economy.

This latest commitment expands the range of Fascitelli support for URI. They established the Michael D. Fascitelli Scholarship in 2006 for students from North Providence, RI with financial need. In 2013, URI opened the Anna Fascitelli Fitness and Wellness Center, in honor of Mr. Fascitelli’s mother. The facility is LEED Gold certified and has earned a Gold Design Award from Rhode Island Monthly and an AIA Rhode Island Honor Award. It employs more than 300 students and welcomes more than 20,000 monthly visitors.

Mrs. Fascitelli is a managing director at Goldman Sachs. She serves as a trustee for the Partnership for Inner-City Education, the Child Mind Institute, and Dartmouth College. She earned a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.B.A. from Harvard.

Mr. Fascitelli serves on the URI Foundation Board of Directors Executive Committee. He graduated summa cum laude from the URI College of Engineering, and went on to earn an M.B.A. with distinction from Harvard Business School. He is a managing partner of MDF Capital and the Imperial Companies. He is the former president and CEO of Vornado Realty Trust and former president of Alexander’s, Inc. He serves on numerous boards, including The Rockefeller University, the Child Mind Institute, and the Urban Land Institute.