The University of Rhode Island receives more than $500,000 from the Champlin Foundations

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KINGSTON, R.I.– January 30, 2008 – The Champlin Foundations has awarded the University of Rhode Island $560,860 for six advanced technology projects in the areas of film studies, journalism and film media, underwater and coastal archaeology, environment and life sciences, physical therapy, and the honors program. The 2007 grant awards mark the 25th consecutive year that URI and its students have benefited from The Champlin Foundations’ generosity.

“Once again, The Champlin Foundations has recognized and shown a strong and generous commitment to the high quality of educational experiences we offer our students. These awards will give our faculty access to the state-of-the-art technologies needed to expose students to and challenge students with the most relevant research and practices,” said URI Associate Vice President of Development Paul Witham. “We are ever grateful to the Champlin Foundations for their ongoing support in keeping URI a premier institution of higher learning in Rhode Island.”

The URI Digital Production Studio: With a $119,800 grant, a new Digital Production Studio, to be ready by the fall 2008 semester, will function as a main studio and control room where journalism students will learn to produce daily newscasts, conduct real-time interviews, and role-play ethical case studies from real news situations. Through these and other experiences, thousands of URI students will develop skills to enter the job market fully prepared for the high-tech world of broadcast journalism and digital production.

“When students are sitting on an actual news set and the cameras are rolling, that’s when reality hits. The blood pumps faster, they start to sweat; but they have to cope. In doing so, they learn skills they could never learn from a textbook. We’re hoping all their ethics and other journalistic training come into play as they work in this new studio, so that students in front of and behind the camera are truly prepared for the jobs that await them in the new multimedia world,” said Journalism and Film Media Professor Barbara Meagher.

The Digital Production Studio will also be available for other students in film media or communications studies seeking to produce a creative work such as a news feature, documentary or film for scholarships, fellowships and other awards, Meagher said. This grant will also open the doors for more University programming to reach the broader Rhode Island community through a fiber optic link that will connect the university to cable television and the Internet. High-quality presentations such as visiting scholars, artists, business leader and others can be offered to the Rhode Island community in real time.

Grant recipients are Meagher of Johnston; and Timothy Tierney of Wakefield, assistant director for Audiovisual Production Services.

Underwater and Coastal Archaeology Digital Laboratory: A $109,000 grant will provide equipment for a state-of-the-art underwater and coastal archaeological digital teaching and research laboratory on the Kingston campus, opening a portal for URI students to access the world’s oceans in the exciting new field of coastal and underwater archaeology. The laboratory, to be fully functioning by April 2009, will prepare URI students with practical experience and technical training necessary to successfully compete in underwater archaeology and particularly the emerging field of deep submergence archaeology.

The centerpiece of the laboratory will be a console comprised of computers, sonar and video processing software, plasma screens, a server, digital projectors, video-conferencing system and workstations all connected to the outside world via Internet 2. In addition, the laboratory will give students access to a substantial and unique library of data from archaeological expeditions where no real-time communication was available.

“We are very excited about the opportunities the Champlin award will give our students. The new Underwater and Coastal Archaeology Digital Laboratory promises to connect our students both physically and intellectually with exciting new archaeological discoveries in the world’s oceans. Students on the Kingston campus will be connected, via satellite and Internet 2, to archaeological oceanographic expeditions around the world giving them direct access to incoming images, data and significant moments of discovery,” said Associate Professor Rod Mather, who teaches and practices underwater historical archaeology at URI.

This grant was submitted by Mather of Kingston; Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Kristine Bovy of Kingston; Assistant Professor of History Bridget Buxton of Saunderstown; Associate Professor of Art Mary Hollinshead of Rehoboth Mass.; and Assistant Professor of Philosophy William Kreiger of Kingston.

Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences: Sights, Sounds and Touch of a Modern Auditorium: A $106,000 grant will augment a $394,000 grant from the Rhode Island Division of Technology to fully equip the 300-seat auditorium in the University’s Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences, to be completed in January 2009, with the latest audio and visual equipment. Most of the large introductory courses offered by the College of the Environment and Life Sciences will be held in this auditorium. The presentation systems funded with the grant will turn the large open auditorium space into an interactive, high-tech, high-touch learning environment. The auditorium will also serve as a community presentation resource and stimulate academic and intellectual interest in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.

Richard Rhodes III, associate dean of the College of the Environment and Life Sciences, said “This auditorium will be a front door to the university for all of our students and will serve the greater university community as a gateway to the intellectual resources of our institution. Our students and the public will be amazed by the audiovisual capabilities of this auditorium. The cutting edge AV hardware and software will provide users with access to sights and sounds unlike traditional classrooms. It is going to be the perfect venue for any speaker to share their message and a wonderful environment for student learning. Thanks to The Champlin Foundations grant, this won’t be just a lecture hall in a building, but something far greater.”

This grant was submitted by Rhodes of Wakefield.

Using Telemedicine in the Education of Physical Therapy Students:

URI began offering its doctor of physical therapy degree in September 2005 and graduated its first students in May 2007. The increased level of education requires students to perform examination and evaluation procedures, and in particular, to demonstrate hands-on skills not previously required of physical therapist educational programs. The $96,790 grant from The Champlin Foundations will provide the necessary video technology, software and related systems, as well as therapy tables, for many students to simultaneously observe and interact with patients from a remote location.

With the patient’s permission, students in classrooms will be able to observe and interact with patients being treated in the on-site clinic without crowding into a small exam room. Students will be able to observe actual communications between patients and expert clinicians and critique their own practices. The equipment will allow for the creation of a video library of numerous patient treatments and hands-on techniques demonstrated by faculty. Tables will allow students to practice patient body placement, while video equipment and software will allow them to compare their performance with that of the instructor via a split screen and video overlay.

“Observational learning is a very effective first step in developing hands-on skills and appropriate doctor-patient communications. However, it is very difficult to find clinics where many students can observe the same patient at the same time. The grant will give us the unique ability to offer live streaming video of patients receiving care to students in the classroom. This will improve not only the hands-on skills of about 80 physical therapy students each year, but also the quality of care for thousands of future patients treated by URI’s DPT graduates. About 80 percent of URI’s physical therapy students remain to practice in Rhode Island’s health care community,” said Physical Therapy Professor Beth Marcoux.

This grant proposal was submitted by Marcoux of Stonington, Conn.

The Opportunity Zone for Academic and Intellectual Opportunity

A $69,690 Champlin grant will create a one-stop, consolidated, state-of-the-art resource center for University Honors Program students. The central purpose of the Opportunity Zone, or “O-Zone,” will be to prepare students for awards, fellowships, competitive post-graduate positions, graduate school examinations, professional school admissions tests, research positions on campus and beyond, and other contests of an intellectual or creative character.

The number of students participating in honors classes has jumped from 50 students per semester in 1995 to more than 500 students per semester today. Many of these students have non-traditional or first-generation college backgrounds and limited off-campus access to academic and intellectual support and resources. The grant will allow the URI Honors Program to serve this growing population of exceptional students and to ensure that a potential pool of Rhode Island leaders for economic and social development is not lost.

The “O-Zone” will provide a dedicated state-of-the-art computer center and on-line reference center in a quiet area for examination and application preparation, an interview practice room that mimics those used for interviewing Rhodes, Marshall, Truman and other prestigious scholarship candidates. It will also serve as a centralized location for information about fellowships, research positions, summer opportunities, intellectual or creative contests, graduate testing and other opportunities for exceptional students. An administrative operations room will support these students’ endeavors.

Over recent years, URI Honors Program graduates have won prestigious honors, including Fulbright Scholarships and Udall Awards. Many have gone on to teaching and research assistantships and have earned scholarships in highly selective graduate programs in philosophy, public health, veterinary medicine, communications and economics. The successes of past URI honors students has proven that with proper support, they can win highly competitive national awards and competitions. The “O-Zone” aims to provide that support to significantly more honors students than can be served with the existing resources.

According to Richard McIntyre, Honors Program director, “The timing could not be better. We expect to hire a full time assistant director for National Scholarships and Academic Opportunities in July and return to the renovated Lippitt Hall in August. To be able to provide students with this new resource center will dramatically increase opportunities for URI’s top students.”

Grant recipients are McIntyre of Wakefield, who is also professor of economics; Walter von Reinhart of Providence, associate honors director and associate professor of languages; and Carolyn Hames of Narragansett, associate honors director and professor of nursing.

URI Rich Media Program

A $59,580 award will return the Independence Hall screening room, a Champlin-funded facility established in 1999, to its former state-of-the-art capacity with vital technology and equipment upgrades. The screening room’s small scale and multiple technologies have served a multitude of purposes for the University’s Film Media majors and minors. It offers a live/online multimedia-learning environment with the capacity to view streaming video, DVDs and VHS films and conduct real-time interactive international classroom exchanges and discussions.

“Technology has transformed the world of filmmaking, and the most pivotal development is the emergence of high definition media for both broadcast and DVD. Today we face a multi-faceted landscape, and the superior form within that landscape is high definition. In the current media market, few professionals are proficient in high definition production. With the means to provide our students with a critical understanding of high definition, our graduates will enter the workforce with valuable skills that will place them in front of their peers and fully competitive in the media marketplace,” said Communication Studies and Film Media Assistant Professor Mary Healey-Jamiel.

A new control system with a wireless touch panel will allow for greater instructor-student interaction by making switching from one medium to another nearly instantaneous and seamless. A new video projector will be compatible with high definition technologies and will allow low-level lighting necessary for note taking. A new projection screen will have capability to display the proper image size for the given viewing position distance and high definition aspect ratio. A computer station will allow for presentations, Internet access, demonstrations of online research methods, web conferencing and other interactive experiences in real time.

“Our students have extraordinary stories to tell. Their films range from personal accounts of family tragedy on September 11 to investigative stories about global climate change. The screening room is a repository and a conduit for our students, as well as for their critical understanding of media,” said Healey-Jamiel.

This grant was submitted by Healey-Jamiel of Warren; John Leo of Providence, professor of English, comparative literature studies, and director of the Film Media Program; and Ignacio Perez-Ibanez of Newport, senior information technologist in Information and Instructional Technology Services.