$2.5 Million Gift Supports Underrepresented Engineering Students

Media Contact: Austen Farrell, 401-874-9522 |
Students work with Robot in engineering lab. Photo credit: Steer
Students work with Robot in engineering lab. Photo credit: Steer

KINGSTON, R.I. — April 6, 2021 — The University of Rhode Island announced the establishment of the Raymond M. Wright Fast Track Master’s Engineering Endowment. The $2.5 million gift comes from anonymous donors to honor College of Engineering Dean Raymond M. Wright, who plans to retire at the end of the academic year.

The new endowed fund provides one year of full tuition and fees for students enrolled in the final year of the fast-track degree program, which offers an accelerated timeline to complete a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years. The dean of the College will choose the recipients, with a preference for populations who are traditionally underrepresented in engineering, including women and people of color.

The new scholarship was established to build on the success of Wright’s innovative Wanting Engineering Program, which supports high school and transfer students who want to major in engineering but do not have the appropriate academic background. The program has been effective in recruiting underrepresented students, allowing them to enroll in engineering courses and providing the appropriate support and resources to build their academic skills and succeed in earning an engineering degree.

“I can think of no better way to honor Dean Wright’s accomplishments over the past 14 years,” said URI President David M. Dooley, “than by supporting his initiatives to increase diversity in the field of engineering. We are deeply grateful to the donors who made this possible, knowing that this permanent fund will make URI’s engineering program even more attractive to students.”

Wright, a respected environmental engineer, has served as dean of the College of Engineering since 2007. Under his leadership, the College has grown from 900 to 1,600 students and from 65 to 75 full-time, tenured or tenure-track faculty, and he spearheaded the renovation and construction of more than $150 million in engineering facilities during his tenure.

“One of my priorities as dean has been to increase the number of underrepresented students in the College,” said Wright. “We have worked to build that pipeline from high school to college, and our outstanding faculty and staff are dedicated to the success of every student. I am very grateful that these donors have dedicated resources to support our diverse students and honored to have this endowed scholarship in my name.”

Wright joined the URI faculty in 1981 as a civil engineering assistant professor. He later chaired the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. From 2006 to 2007, Wright was associate dean of engineering.

The URI College of Engineering offers eight academic programs and is home to the acclaimed International Engineering Program, which pairs engineering with a language major and provides global learning opportunities. In 2019, the College opened its new home, The Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering, which offers active-learning classrooms and three floors of state-of-the art research labs.