URI Foundation presents four with excellence awards

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KINGSTON, R.I. –-September 12, 2007—Each year the URI Foundation at the University of Rhode Island recognizes four outstanding members of the URI community. The four are nominated for their excellence by their peers and/or by students in four categories: scholarly, teaching, administrative, and staff. A committee makes the final selection. This year’s excellence award winners will be presented with a citation and a $2,000 check during a reception on Sept. 20 at 4:30 p.m., 79 Upper College Road, Kingston, Rhode Island.

Each recipient is invited to march in URI’s commencement ceremony next May, walking with officials and dignitaries representing excellence within the URI community.

Recipients of the 2007 URI Foundation Excellence Awards are:

Candace Oviatt

2007 URI Foundation Scholarly Excellence Award

Candace Oviatt of West Kingston is the anchor of URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography where her stellar scholarship in marine biology is recognized worldwide.

She knows more about Narragansett Bay than any number of old salts. Her four decades of research on our state’s most treasured resource have helped save the bay by guiding its resource management and conservation.

Her steady publications about the bay range from the historical impact of over-fishing to the alarming consequences of climate change. While her focus is local, her work provides a worldwide understanding of coastal ecology.

During the last seven years, she has been the principal investigator or co-investigator of $7 million in prestigious grants.

She is a role model to a myriad of students and former students, many of whom have become leaders in coastal and marine research, management, and policy.

Damon Rarick

2007 URI Foundation Teaching Excellence Award

Damon Rarick of Providence sure knows how to keep college students engaged in their studies. The unconventional German professor makes it entertaining to learn as fun and games aren’t verboten.

For example, in an intermediate “German for Engineers” course, he incorporated automobile engines into his lessons. By the end of the semester, the class became a “functional” human engine model, according to one student who was the intake valve. To this day, the student says he can tell you the process of every stroke in a four-stroke engine in German without referring to a textbook.

While laughter is encouraged, this professor’s classroom goals are serious: proficiency in listening, writing, speaking, and reading German and an understanding of the German culture.

Kathryn S. Meier

2007 URI Foundation Administrative Excellence Award

Kathryn Meier of Kingston, assistant director of our Cancer Prevention Research Center, is a master juggler. She doesn’t juggle bowling balls or chain saws.

That would be much too easy. Instead, she juggles the administration of grant accounts—currently she’s overseeing 25 of them—an amazing feat given the challenges of People Soft, grant accounting, and changing federal guidelines. But Meier’s impressive versatility doesn’t stop there. She can keep the Center’s large-scale, community-based intervention programs on time and on task. She ensures that the Center has the people, space, equipment, and all other resources it needs for its research programs. She also is a Polaris for graduate students, the guiding light that illuminates their path to success. Her leadership is reflected by her election as the new president of the Society for Public Health Education.

Michael P. McDonald

2007 URI Foundation Staff Excellence Award

Michael P. McDonald of Bradford, R.I., a property control and supply officer for the Department of Housing and Residential Life, is a mover and shaker.

He oversees the ordering and delivery of equipment and custodial supplies for our 22 residence halls and three apartment complexes, including nailing down orders for all carpet and furnishings.

He’s the person responsible for moving truckloads of furniture for conferences, orientation, and fall move-in. He coordinated the furniture delivery and installation for our three newest residence halls.

A man for all seasons, he keeps the linen supplies flowing during summer conferences and brings rock salt to the doorstep in the winter. And he does it all with a smile.

He is also vice president of Council 94/Local 528 and known for his leadership and fairness.