URI Inducts 18 into Lifetime Service Society

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862 |
Group shot
From left to right: Dr. Stan Barnett (husband of the late Judith Barnett), Sara Hickox, Carolyn Hames, Wendy Belue-Brodeur, Eric Klos, Peter Ferrara, Linda Sebella, Leo Carroll, Surendra Malik, Wendy Asting, Henry Schwarzbach, Linda Taylor Green, Donald Robadue, J. Vernon Wyman, Albert Della Bitta. Photo by Mike Salerno.

KINGSTON, R.I. — October 7, 2019 — Eighteen retired University of Rhode Island faculty and staff members were inducted into the Lifetime Service Society in September for their hard work and dedication to URI. Inductees each received bricks engraved with their names and years of service, which will be laid into the patio of the Robert L. Carothers Library and Learning Commons.

More than 140 University employees have been inducted into the Lifetime Service Society since the program began in 2013. It was created by University employees to honor their retired colleagues who have worked at the University for 40 or more years.

This year’s inductees are:

Wendy G. Asting of Wakefield, manager, Accounting, Controller’s Office * 44 years

Wendy Asting started in the Accounting Office in 1975 and quickly moved up to a fiscal clerk, then assistant manager, and retired as the manager of Accounting in 2018. She always worked diligently to assist the University in all things financial. She had great customer service skills, and handled fiscal emergencies with grace and diligence. She personally assisted University personnel such as the provost, and had a positive impact on the entire URI community.

Judith Barnett of Wakefield, professor/librarian, URI Robert L. Carothers Library and Learning Commons, posthumous, * 47 years

Born in New York, in 1940, Professor Judith Barnett graduated from Barnard College and went on to earn her master’s degree in library science from Drexel University. She arrived at the University of Rhode Island in 1971. Her work here at the University Libraries, particularly in the field of Oceanography, helped build the program into what it is today. She was honest, sincere, trustworthy, and extremely dedicated to her work and the success of each and every one of her colleagues. She was a trusted mentor to many on the University’s campus, and is greatly missed by the community at large.

Wendy G. Belue-Brodeur of Narragansett, supervising pre-audit clerk, Payroll Office * 40 years

Wendy Belue-Brodeur began working at the University in July 1977 as a fiscal clerk.  She was promoted to chief clerk in the bookstore in 1984, and then to payroll supervising pre-audit clerk in 1991. She withstood many challenges in her career, including the conversion from the monthly payroll system to PeopleSoft in 2003. Her work was timely and accurate, and she demonstrated professionalism every day. She mentored subordinates and instructed departmental personnel, going above and beyond her job title to assist the University in any way she could.

Leo Carroll of Wakefield, professor of sociology and anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences * 46 years

Professor Leo Carroll joined the faculty at URI in 1972 and earned his Ph.D. in sociology from Brown University in 1974. Before coming to URI, he was a parole and correctional officer for several years at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. At URI, he served four terms as chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and published widely in the fields of criminal justice, policing and corrections. Throughout his career, he has consulted extensively with a variety of state and federal criminal justice agencies. Prior to his retirement, Carroll played a pivotal role in the creation of the new Criminology & Criminal Justice Program, which had the highest number of incoming students this fall for any major in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Carroll was awarded the URI Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1975 and has been a beloved professor to many students during his career at URI. Upon his retirement, the Criminology and Criminal Justice Program, in collaboration with the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, established a book award in his honor. The Leo Carroll Book Prize in Criminology and Criminal Justice is awarded to a student who shows a commitment to constitutional values and social justice, ensuring that Carroll’s contributions will continue well into the future.

Albert J. Della Bitta of Wakefield, professor, College of Business * 47 years

Albert Della Bitta earned his Ph.D. in 1971 from the University of Massachusetts and joined the URI faculty the same year. In 1979, he became associate director of the Research Center in Business and Economics, was appointed director of the Center and, in 1991, was appointed chair of the Marketing Department. Della Bitta’s principal teaching and research interests were consumer behavior, pricing and marketing research. He has served as a consultant for numerous business firms and his research has been published in many academic journals.

He taught at the University of Massachusetts, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and ISIDA, the oldest management training center in Italy. He held several offices in professional organizations and presented various marketing seminars and papers to national and international audiences.

He was a referee for many years, inducted into the Soccer Rhode Island and New England Halls of Fame. Della Bitta continues to serve youth soccer as the vice president of the South County Youth Soccer Club and continues to play an integral role in the annual Seaside Classic Soccer Tournament.

Peter A. Ferrara Jr. of North Kingstown, senior tech programmer, Information Technology Services * 45 years

Peter Ferrara became part of the University community when he enrolled at URI for his graduate degree and worked in the Computer Laboratory. After graduation, he joined the Air Force and worked at the Pentagon as a computer programmer. He returned to URI in 1972 as a computer programmer, working to complete tasks thought impossible by many. Yet he always found solutions. Ferrara was always known for his attention to detail, and served URI’s Information Technology department faithfully for 45 years.

Deborah A. Grant of Narragansett, assistant business management officer, Memorial Union, Division of Student Affairs * 40 years

Deborah Grant began her career in the Bursar’s Office in 1978, and joined the Memorial Union in 1988. As a valuable member of the team, Grant was known for her calm demeanor, willingness to step in and assist with projects even if they did not fall in her work area. She is smart, thoughtful and added a great vision about the future of the facility.

Linda Taylor Green of West Kingston, research associate IV, College of the Environment and Life Sciences * 42 years

Linda Green became the first female soil scientist in the state of Pennsylvania after graduating from URI in the 1970s. She later returned to URI, where she eventually took a job in the laboratory of Professor Art Gold, who was helping create what became Watershed Watch, a volunteer water quality monitoring program that Green would lead until her retirement.

Green established the URI Watershed Watch program within the College of the Environment and Life Sciences in 1988 with 20 volunteers on 14 sites. She helped build the volunteer service so that it monitored more than 50 lakes and ponds, 50 rivers and streams, and 100 estuarine/marine sites. She was the principal investigator of $1.2 million in grants over 14 years that fostered volunteer monitoring nationally. Her expertise was recognized in her appointment as the first citizen scientist representative to the National Water Quality Monitoring Council. There she promoted volunteer monitoring to federal, state and local agencies. She was instrumental in changing the attitudes of many career scientists toward volunteer-generated data. This has led to volunteer data becoming the cornerstone of datasets resulting in numerous peer-reviewed publications, and technical reports with policy implications.

She fostered the inclusion of volunteer water quality monitoring within Cooperative Extension nationally, including making it the foundation of URI CE’s Water Program, a trusted CELS resource. Green’s Watershed Watch program has mentored 72 CELS students, including nine graduate students, many of whom went on to successful careers in natural resources and allied professions.

Carolyn Hames of Narragansett, associate professor, College of Nursing * 45 years

Professor Carolyn Hames earned her B.S. and M.S. from the University of Florida. She joined the faculty at the University of Rhode Island College Of Nursing in 1972. During her 45 years at URI, she taught pediatric nursing, was an Honors Fellow in the University’s Honors Program, and had a specialty interest in thanatology with a focus on death and bereavement related to children. Hames was active in helping to establish Friends Way, a children’s bereavement center located in Warwick, Rhode Island, where she has served as president of its board of directors. Hames developed a reputation for excellence in teaching, was tough but fair, and always prioritized her students.

Sara C. Hickox of Hanover, New Hampshire, director, Office of Marine Programs, Graduate School of Oceanography * 42 years

Sara Hickox has been a pillar of URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography community since she arrived in 1975. She is best known for her excellent work as the director of the Office of Marine Programs, a position she earned in 1989 and held until her retirement. In this capacity, Hickox oversaw all of GSO’s outreach efforts. She made the excitement of research accessible to a wide audience through several Office of Marine Program projects such as the Narragansett Bay Classroom, Rhode Island Teachers at Sea, the Charles and Marie Fish Lecture Series, and the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting. Hickox put URI’s stamp on global initiatives such as the Deep Carbon Observatory and Census of Marine Life.

Broadly recognized as a gifted administrator, she always prioritized the people who worked in her office. She excelled at organizing large events that always managed to put the campus in the best light possible. GSO’s 50th anniversary was spectacular as a result of her efforts. Her long commitment to URI was recognized with the 2014 URI Foundation Staff Excellence Award.

Eric Klos of North Kingstown, coordinator of Narragansett Bay Campus Facilities and Operations, Graduate School of Oceanography * 43 years

In his role as coordinator of the Narragansett Bay Campus, Eric Klos worked as an engineer, a scientist, and an artist. At the Marine Ecosystems Research Laboratory, Klos worked to set up the outdoor experiment facilities and to maintain the experiments, ensuring that they performed like the natural systems they were representing. Klos documented every design change with drawings, photographs and reports. He was focused on improving the science behind experimentation, and diligently maintained records. After 25 years, he was promoted to coordinator of facility operations of the entire Graduate School of Oceanography.

Surendra S. Malik of Kingston, professor of physics, College of Arts and Sciences * 56 years
Professor Surendra Malik had an uncompromising passion for and devotion to fundamental physics. He was instrumental in putting the department on the global ultracold neutron map. During his years as chair of the Physics Department, Malik cared immensely about his fellow faculty. His main concern was to make sure that the physics faculty had the necessary tools to do their jobs and could do so without having to worry about outside influence.

John J. Poggie Jr. of Wakefield, professor of sociology and anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences * 49 years

After earning his Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Minnesota, Poggie joined the URI faculty in 1969. While at URI, he became an internationally renowned scholar in cultural anthropology and human ecology, contributing to studies of modernization, fisheries, psychological anthropology, and research methods around the globe. He was a two-term editor in chief of the prestigious journal, Human Organization. At URI, he chaired the Department of Sociology and Anthropology for many years, served on numerous graduate committees, and trained generations of URI anthropologists in anthropological theory and research methods.

Donald D. Robadue Jr. of Wakefield, associate coastal resources manager, Coastal Resources Center, Graduate School of Oceanography * 41 years

Donald Robadue Jr. was one of the longest serving staff members at the Coastal Resources Center and worked there since its founding in the early 1970s. He made significant contributions to the Center’s work, supporting the development of coastal management in Rhode Island, and also to the international portfolio. Robadue demonstrated an ability to learn and adapt in all situations, and soon became a star trainer for the Coastal Resources Center. He excelled at making learning fun, and retaining the attention of his students. He remains a volunteer at the Coastal Resources Center, as he is still passionate about his work.

Henry R. Schwarzbach of Kingston, professor, College of Business * 42 years

Professor Henry Schwarzbach arrived at URI as an assistant professor in the fall of 1976, after completing his doctorate in accounting at the University of Colorado.  He served in the Navy in Vietnam and worked as a certified public accountant before pursuing his Ph.D. Schwarzbach was quickly promoted to associate professor, and then appointed director of the Master of Science in Accounting Program and department chair. He was active in professional associations and won several awards from the Institute of Management Accounting for his contributions.

Linda Sebelia of Barrington, associate professor of nutrition and food Sciences, College Health Sciences * 43 years

Linda Sebelia served URI and the community as director of the Nutrition Outreach Program for 43 years. She began her career providing nutrition education across Rhode Island, writing articles for local newspapers and radio shows. She interviewed everyone from fishermen to legislators, and her work was well known across the state.

As opportunities arose, Sebelia started writing grants to expand her outreach program. Today, the Nutrition Outreach program has more than $2 million in funding and a staff of 14. These grants provide nutrition education programs to more than 10,000 low-income Rhode Islanders each year. She also taught four sections of courses each year at URI, and was beloved by her students. She instilled in her students a love for nutrition education, and she hired the best students to work for her programs. Sebelia’s enthusiasm and dedication has now been passed to the next generation of nutrition professionals.

Mario Trubiano of Wakefield, professor of modern and classical Languages, College of Arts and Sciences * 40 years

Professor Mario Trubiano earned his Ph.D., M.A., & B.A. in Spanish from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and M.Ed., from Boston College. During his career at URI, Trubiano founded and directed The URI Summer Study Program in Salamanca, Spain, which has been providing students with a unique and immersive study abroad experience for more than 30 years. Trubiano also earned numerous awards and accolades, including the Italian Gold Medal and Certificate of Merit, “Cavaliere del Lavoro,” the University of Rhode Island Foundation Teaching Excellence Award, and a Gold Medal from the Colegio de Espana and city of Salamanca in recognition of his summer study program’s excellence.

J. Vernon Wyman of Wakefield, assistant vice president, Business Services, Administration and Finance * 40 years

J. Vernon Wyman played a vital role in the development of the University’s campus and physical plant, starting as a planning coordinator in Business Services, then senior planner, and, later, the acting director of Facilities and Operations for three years before taking the role of assistant vice president for Business Services. He managed the financing of numerous projects on campus, such as the Ryan Center and the new engineering complex. He was also on the Building Committee for URI’s new and renovated academic and residential structures, the URI Research Foundation Committee, the Master Plan Review Team, and many more. 

He also worked to secure financing of these projects with Rhode Island general obligation bonds and revenue bonds, certificates of participation and other financing vehicles. He was instrumental in helping URI to reduce its carbon footprint, and led a solar energy project and accompanying net credit metering sales agreement with Narragansett and South Kingstown. The project is designed to generate nearly 40 megawatts of green energy for Rhode Island’s power grid. Wyman has had a hand in nearly every major project across all campuses.

Lauren Poirier, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and public relations and English major, wrote this press release.