KINGSTON, R.I. – May 1, 2009 – University of Rhode Island President Robert L. Carothers announced this evening that Richard J. Harrington, former president and chief executive officer of The Thomson Corporation and a 1973 College of Business Administration graduate of URI, and his wife, Jean, have pledged a gift of $5 million to the university. The announcement was made during a farewell gala at Belle Mer in Newport, capping off a series of tributes to Carothers, who has served as president of URI since 1991.
Carothers said the Harringtons’ gift will be used to support the establishment of the University’s School of Communication and Media, formed in 2008, which will be named The Harrington School of Communication and Media. The naming is subject to approval by the Board of Governors for Higher Education at its May 11 meeting.
Harrington’s 11-year tenure as president and CEO of Thomson culminated with the company’s acquisition of Reuters to form Thomson Reuters in 2008. As a component of the Harringtons’ gift, the Woodbridge Company Ltd. of Toronto, the Thomson family’s holding company and the majority shareholder in Thomson Reuters, as well as other private donors, will give $500,000 in recognition of Harrington’s more than 25 years of service with the corporation. Thomson Reuters has also pledged ongoing support to URI and the Harrington School of Communication and Media, sharing its media resources and other assets, as well as its people. The Harringtons’ gift is part of the University’s Making A Difference capital campaign.
“This is an extraordinary gift from Dick and Jean, and one that will have a far-reaching and resounding impact on the University of Rhode Island,” said Carothers. “The ability to invest in the school at its earliest stage will help us achieve a distinct niche for the program, one based on the latest thinking on communication technology. The Harrington School will create unique opportunities for our students to lead, in a time of exploding change in communications. We appreciate Dick for his belief in our faculty and our students.”
Harrington said: “Jean and I are delighted and honored to be able to give back to this great institution that was instrumental in forming the foundation for my career success. This gift reflects our heartfelt commitment to supporting public universities, which unlock doors of opportunity for students who might not otherwise be able to go to college. As the son of Irish immigrants who could not afford college education, I am grateful for the doors that URI unlocked for me.
“As someone who has seen the world of information evolve from print to digital, and now to blogs and Twittering, I believe it is critical for URI to prepare its communication students for leadership roles in the next generation of media and communications that is increasingly changing at breakneck speed around the globe. With the Harrington School of Communication and Media, we have the opportunity to create a leading-edge environment in education and research that will help to fuel innovation in the knowledge economy. I commend and thank President Carothers and his talented faculty for having the foresight and commitment to undertake this important and exciting initiative.”
The School of Communication and Media was created in early 2008 following approval by the Board of Governors for Higher Education. The school brings together five academic units within the College of Arts & Sciences, including the Department of Communication Studies and the Department of Journalism (which offer the interdisciplinary major of Public Relations), Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, Writing and Rhetoric, and the Program in Film Media. Though the individual units of the school have not been physically centralized, this major gift is expected to facilitate the renovation or construction of a dedicated home in the near future.
Winifred Brownell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said: “We are tremendously grateful for the generosity of Dick and Jean Harrington and the support they have continued to demonstrate over the years. The Harrington School of Communication and Media will allow us to offer students an expanding number of exciting opportunities, preparing them for future workforce needs and enhancing the value of the degrees they earn. We are excited about integrating a unique combination of programs within the School and uniting faculty and program strengths in the study of communications and information while maximizing the synergies created from interdisciplinary interaction.”
Glen R. Kerkian, president of the URI Foundation, which manages all charitable fundraising and investment activities on the university’s behalf, said: “How appropriate that a graduate who’s been a giant in the information industry chooses to make an impact for aspiring students in such dramatic fashion. A gift of this caliber places the Harringtons among the elite few who have made private gifts that are truly transformational to the Kingston campus. It is no coincidence that the timing of this decision is linked to a campus-wide celebration of the leadership of Dr. Carothers.”
Kerkian noted the Making A Difference campaign, which seeks to raise $100 million by its scheduled close on December 31, 2010, has, to date, raised nearly $92 million, nearly $38 million of which has been raised in the last 18 months.
Harrington, who was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws from URI in 2002, has been active on a number of key volunteer capacities at URI, including serving on the Making A Difference Campaign Leadership Committee, the URI Foundation Executive Board, the President’s Advisory Council, and the College of Business Advisory Committee.
This latest gift is one in a series of commitments the Harringtons have made to URI over the years, including previous donations totaling approximately $500,000. URI also received matching gifts from Thomson. Harrington chaired the Ballentine Shareholders Campaign, the private fund drive that raised about $6 million toward the renovation and expansion of Ballentine Hall, home to the College of Business Administration, which was completed in 2003. Included in the support from the Harringtons and Thomson was a new trading room in Ballentine, outfitted with Thomson ONE, the leading financial analysis database in the world, as well as additional database technology donations to the College of Business.
“Dick is an active, loyal, and long-time generous alumnus, and we are immensely proud that he and Jean are part of our URI family,” said Bob Beagle, vice president for University Advancement. “As a dynamic corporate leader, when we seek input, Dick is one of our first ‘go-to’ people. We are so grateful that he has recognized the importance of our new School of Communication and Media in enhancing the student experience.”
Harrington has been recognized throughout his career for his business leadership and philanthropic efforts. Most recently, in 2006, he was awarded the Legend in Leadership award from the Yale University Executive Leadership Institute and the CEO of the Year award from the Executive Council. He also was named the 2004 Heart of Gold Volunteer of the Year in Fairfield County (Connecticut) and the National Executive Council’s Man of the Year in 2007 for his many philanthropic activities.
Harrington is currently chairman and general partner of Cue Ball, a Boston-based venture capital firm. He remains involved with Thomson Reuters, as chairman of the company’s foundation, and is a member of the boards of directors of Xerox, Aetna and Milliken & Co.