KINGSTON, R.I. – April 2, 2007 – Hasbro Children’s Fund, the charitable arm of Pawtucket-based toymaker Hasbro, Inc., has announced a $500,000 gift to the University of Rhode Island to support international business and engineering education. The gift was made as part of the University’s “Making a Difference” campaign.
The majority of the funds will be used to establish the Hasbro Scholars Fund, which will provide merit-based financial support for undergraduate students pursuing business and engineering internships and studies in China.
“International education is a critical element of many academic programs. Hasbro’s contribution will dramatically expand opportunities for our students to experience other cultures by living, working and studying abroad,” said URI President Robert L. Carothers. “This gift will have a lasting impact on the lives of our students.”
“Hasbro is particularly pleased to support students who plan to study and intern in China, whose thriving economy is a driving force behind an increasingly global marketplace,” said Hasbro Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer, Alfred J. Verrecchia, who earned an undergraduate degree from URI in 1967, an MBA in 1972 and an honorary doctorate in 2004. “We believe that students with cross-cultural backgrounds, especially those who speak Chinese and understand its culture, will be better equipped to become leaders at companies with international operations.”
Hasbro’s gift was one of the reasons URI was successful in being selected as a site for a Confucius Institute. The Institute, one of 20 in the United States funded by the Chinese government, is a non-profit educational organization designed to enhance the understanding of Chinese culture and support the teaching of the Chinese language. It is one of several Chinese initiatives to be launched at URI this year.
URI’s International Engineering Program requires students to major in an engineering discipline and a foreign language (Chinese, French, German or Spanish) and then spend a year abroad studying and interning at an international company. The innovative program, launched in 1987 as a national model, attracts top engineering students from throughout the country and provides them with the cross-cultural experience that many global engineering firms seek in their employees.
“The financial obstacles of going to the Far East are fairly considerable, so the Hasbro gift will help meet the needs of many students who seek experience in China,” said John Grandin, executive director of the International Engineering Program and a professor of German.
The University’s newly launched International Business Program is a five-year program modeled after its engineering counterpart and requires foreign language training and an internship abroad. Students in the program study business principles from a global perspective while also studying the history, economy, politics and culture of a foreign country.
“This fall the International Business Program officially becomes part of the university curriculum. Through Hasbro’s generous gift, students who are currently freshman or sophomores and have completed a significant number of courses in a foreign language will be able to enroll in the program. These students will be able to take advantage of internship opportunities through our partner institutions in China,” said College of Business Dean Mark Higgins, who has made international education a priority since he assumed the dean’s post last September.
The Hasbro endowed scholarship will support several students who will participate this summer in a six-week introductory trip to China to study the Chinese language, culture and industry. Beginning next fall, two URI engineering students will be the first to spend an entire academic year in China.
“The gift from Hasbro will be very significant in enabling engineering students to pursue a Chinese language option and prepare for leadership positions as global engineers,” said Bahram Nassersharif, dean of the URI College of Engineering. “We look forward to further strengthening the relationship between Hasbro and the URI engineering programs in design and innovation through this gift.”
In addition to the endowment for international education opportunities, the Hasbro gift will also provide support for URI’s College of Engineering and College of Business to develop the programs further.
The Hasbro donation is part of the URI “Making a Difference” campaign, which seeks $100 million to recruit and retain outstanding faculty, enhance the student-centered campus experience, provide undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships, and fund cutting-edge academic and research initiatives.
Hasbro is a worldwide leader in children’s and family leisure time entertainment products and services, including the design, manufacture and marketing of games and toys ranging from traditional to high-tech. Its most visible and recognizable brands include Playskool, Tonka, Milton Bradley, Parker Brothers, Tiger and Wizards of the Coast.