Taco pledges $400,000 to support URI’s College of Engineering and Yes on 4

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North Kingstown – September 29, 2014 — The University of Rhode Island and the URI Foundation will announce today at the engineering bond campaign kick-off that the Taco White Family Foundation will donate $400,000 to the University to support the College of Engineering. Of the gift total, $300,000 will support proposed new engineering facilities on the Kingston campus, which hinges on the passage of the $125 million high education facilities bond referendum that will appear on the November 4 ballot.


The gift would establish the Taco/White Family Research and Innovation Laboratory, which will enhance innovation through research practices and engagement opportunities with industry. The named learning space would be interactive and cross-disciplinary and would serve to help attract both students and faculty and to keep them at URI. The space will be housed in the proposed 195,000-square-foot building, which is designed to replace five existing engineering buildings on URI’s Kingston campus — Crawford Hall, Gilbreth Hall, Kelly Hall, Kelly Hall Annex and Wales Hall – all of which opened in the late 1950s and early 1960s.


The remaining $100,000 of the gift commitment will fund an endowed scholarship, the John Hazen White Scholarship, to support third and fourth-year undergraduate students studying any discipline of engineering at URI.


“We are grateful to John for his support and to the Taco/White Family Foundation for its pledge to this critical project,” said URI President David M. Dooley. “The University, its students, its faculty, and the state will benefit from this generous gift as we move forward to expand our engagement with local industry. The new, cutting-edge facilities this gift supports will enable the College to build on its already impressive track record of educating world-class engineers now and into the future.”


John Hazen White, president and CEO of Taco Incorporated said, “As an employer and contributor to the economic vitality of this state, I am fully supportive of the bond issue that will be before the voters on November 4, and I urge them to vote Yes on 4. Taco and companies like it rely on both the well-trained, highly educated workforce coming out of URI and the research and innovation taking place in University labs. I am confident, as an employer of URI engineering students, that the passage of Question 4 and the resulting construction of the new engineering facilities at URI will contribute significantly to the growth of our state.


“It is critical, in this global economy, that we provide both students and faculty with the opportunity to be more innovative in their research practices and more interactive in their engagement with industry. The goal of this new laboratory is to ensure that URI is viewed as a real competitor when it comes to attracting the best and the brightest to learn and teach here. We, as a state, benefit from this level of excellence.”


Taco has a long-standing relationship with URI, spanning more than 20 years and involving the Graduate School of Oceanography, and the Colleges of Business Administration, Arts and Sciences and Engineering on projects relating to internships, employment, faculty conducted sponsored research projects, and workforce training programs.