URI Alumna Pledges $6 Million to Alma Mater, largest individual pledge in URI’s history

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Estate gift from Frank and Helen Izzi Schilling ’54 is the largest individual pledge in URI’s history

KINGSTON, RI – February 11, 2011 – The URI Foundation today announced a $6 million estate gift from Rhode Island native and URI alumna Helen Izzi Schilling ’54 and her husband, Frank Schilling. The couple, who reside in both Florida and Wisconsin, make their gift to help the University of Rhode Island attract and retain the best and brightest students. Their gift will fund the Frank and Helen Izzi Schilling Scholarship Endowment, which will provide four-year assistance to academically achieving students across all disciplines. The couple funded and created a similar endowment at Mr. Schilling’s alma mater, John Carroll University.

Scholarship awardees, called “Schilling Scholars,” will contribute back to the fund – to the best of their abilities – an amount equal to their scholarships over their lifetimes.

“We’re confident this will attract exactly the type of student we hope would be interested in URI, and vice versa. Expecting students to give back will also grow the funds considerably,” said Frank Schilling.

David M. Dooley, president of the University of Rhode Island, praised the couple, saying: “This gift, which is the single largest gift amount pledged by an individual in URI’s history, will truly be transformational in its impact. Our ability to attract and retain the highest caliber students is a key component of our vision for URI’s future and this extraordinary donation will have a direct and significant bearing on our success. I am equally impressed by the affinity Helen has for URI and her continued commitment to this institution as a proud alumna.”

This significant planned gift helped raise charitable commitments secured during the Making a Difference campaign to more than $128 million. The goal of the campaign was $100 million, a figure achieved in October 2009, a full 15 months before the campaign closed, according to URI Foundation President Glen R. Kerkian.

“The key to URI’s success in raising charitable dollars is the affinity and devotion of our alumni, numbering more than 100,000. Their continued expression of that affinity, in the form of their gifts and their involvement, is what has taken us through the more difficult economic times and what has propelled us to such extraordinary levels of success. Our gratitude to the Schillings and other donors cannot be adequately demonstrated,” Kerkian said.

“We have been very fortunate,” said Helen Schilling. “With success there is an obligation to give back. I was very pleased with the education that I received at URI. My husband and I want to improve the academic level of the University. The careful design of our gift will provide increasing scholarships forever.”

“The best way we can make an impact with our ‘payback’ is through education,” noted Mr. Schilling. “We want our contribution to help teach students how to think, achieve more, and learn to pay back for their success. That will have the most powerful effect on their lives.”

A Rhode Island native

Helen Schilling comes from a family that came to Rhode Island in the early 1900s and maintains a significant presence here today. Her father, Mario T. Izzi, immigrated to the United States with his family, when he was 2 years old. He went from sweeping floors as a young boy, to obtaining his degree from the Rhode Island School of Design. He was a gifted artist with numerous exhibitions, but earned his living by opening the famous Club Pyramid jazz club and later Mario’s Sportsman store, a major boat and motor store on Bald Hill Road in Warwick.

Mrs. Schilling’s recently deceased mother, Elena (Helen) Perrino, was an active partner in all of her husband’s endeavors.

The URI “connection”

The University of Rhode Island was Mrs. Schilling’s launching pad. She is the eldest of four sisters and she blazed an educational path for her sisters to follow.

“I chose URI in 1950 because it was not expensive though it meant that I had to live at home, earn money, and commute by getting rides for the first two years,” she said. “But I liked the campus!”

While at URI, Mrs. Schilling studied nutrition, graduating with honors. She was president of Kappa Omicron Nu, and a member of Phi Kappa Phi, both national honor societies. She was also a member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority. All of this, while working at Butterfield dining hall.

Because of her academic excellence, Mrs. Schilling was granted acceptance into a highly-competitive and rigorous, combined Master of Science/Dietetic Internship Certification program at Ohio State University. During her final semester, Helen Izzi met her future husband, Frank Schilling, who had just entered Ohio State’s M.B.A. program after returning from service in Korea.

Mrs. Schilling worked as the clinical dietitian in a number of hospitals, taught at the University level, and developed her own consulting business.

After Frank graduated as first in his M.B.A. class, he and Helen were married in Warwick. R.I. Mr. Schilling was accepted into a General Electric training program, completing 16 programs that granted additional graduate level certification, including a Harvard program and one at Dartmouth, which his wife also attended, with him.

Mr. Schilling retired as a GE vice president, responsible for GE products from jet engines to CT scanners. After retiring, he directed the growth of other company businesses in the U.S., Singapore, Germany and Korea. He was also the founding president of a successful nuclear cardiology company that made and sold heart scanning equipment.

The Schillings’ two children are nationally recognized in their specialties as practicing physicians. Their son, a radiation oncologist, has pioneered advances in the treatment of cancer, taking the top national award from his medical profession specialty. The Schillings’ daughter is a leader in rehabilitation medicine in Houston and a recognized medical expert witness.

The Schillings’ gift will result from a charitable remainder trust, which allows a donor to irrevocably transfer assets into a trust. The trust pays income to the donor or other beneficiaries during their lifetimes, and the remainder goes to a qualified nonprofit, in this case, the University of Rhode Island.

For more development-related information, or to learn more about charitable trusts or other gift planning strategies, please visit www.urifoundation.org, or contact Donna-Jean Rainville at 401.874.2296 or djrainville@foundation.uri.edu.