URI Graduate School of Oceanography Receives $1 Million Gift

Media Contact: Austen Farrell, 401-874-9522 |
Stephen M. Greenlee and Donna Church Greenlee
Stephen M. Greenlee and Donna Church Greenlee

KINGSTON, R.I., March 5, 2019 | A $1 million gift will advance efforts to revitalize facilities at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. Stephen M. Greenlee M.S. ’82 and Donna Church Greenlee made the gift to support detailed development efforts to expand research and teaching capacity.

The Greenlee Family GSO Campus Redevelopment Fund supports construction on the Narragansett Bay Campus. The Greenlees hope to inspire interest in and support of oceanographic research, building on recent momentum at GSO.

The gift follows the Rhode Island bond issue passed in November 2018 authorizing $45 million to GSO to enhance research capabilities and prepare for the new Regional Class Research Vessel arriving in 2021. In July 2018, the National Science Foundation awarded the vessel—one of just three in the nation—to the East Coast Oceanographic Consortium led by URI.

“Donna and I feel that our investment in GSO’s Bay Campus renewal will help to ensure that their mission of research, education, and outreach can be fulfilled well into the future,” says Stephen Greenlee. “We believe strongly in GSO’s capacity to impact our knowledge of the world’s oceans and help solve critical challenges in this area.”

Bruce Corliss, dean of the school, will oversee the use of the funds in accordance with the school’s strategic plan and in coordination with the upgrades facilitated by the bond. Greenlee and Corliss believe the new fund will inspire others to support the ongoing renewal of the Narragansett Bay Campus and grow GSO’s reputation for research and educational excellence.

“We are grateful for the Greenlees’ confidence in our work, particularly at this key moment for the school,” said Dean Corliss. “Their gift will expand the possibilities for our faculty, researchers, and students.”

The establishment of the Greenlee Family GSO Campus Redevelopment Fund follows the 2018 contribution to URI’s Narragansett Bay Campus of the nearly $2 million Greenfins Aquaculture facility from Peter Mottur, co-founder and president of Greenfins Global, LLC.

Stephen M. Greenlee is a geoscientist and president of the ExxonMobil Exploration Company. He is a member of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. He earned an M.S. in oceanography at GSO, after a B.S. in geology at Duke University. Donna Church Greenlee, originally from Portsmouth, Rhode Island, worked as a geophysicist at ExxonMobil and Kerr McGee. She earned a B.S. in geophysics at Boston College. Stephen and Donna are residents of the greater Houston, Texas area.

GSO is one of the world’s premier oceanographic institutions. Founded in 1961, GSO has built a reputation for excellence in deep water oceanographic research, coastal planning and management, sustainable fisheries, and monitoring the health of Narragansett Bay. With operations, researchers, faculty, and students worldwide, the Bay Campus education and outreach programs train the next generation of scientists and policymakers, while ensuring Rhode Island’s K-12 teachers and students gain an appreciation for the importance of ocean science through a variety of hands-on programs.