Yvette Harps-Logan and Donald Cunnigen, members of the URI Black Faculty Association, established the awards to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of graduating seniors of African descent. The program is now organized by the Black Scholar Awards Program Committee.
The keynote speaker at the April event was David Kyuman, director of the Center of the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity at Connecticut College. He was presented the Tossie E. Taylor Community Spirit Award during the ceremonies. Taylor earned his doctorate in cell biology from URI in 1973 who had a distinguished career in higher education administration.
This year’s awards and their recipients are:
• William Gould Award for All-Around Outstanding Achievement: Brandon F. Brown a political science major from Pawtucket. Gould, a URI graduate, was the first black appointed to chair the National Labor Relations Board.
• Arthur L. Hardge Award for All-Around Outstanding Community Service–Wayne James Montague Jr. a marketing major from Providence. The late Hardge founded URI’s Talent Development Program at URI. The award is presented to a student in recognition of outstanding service to the black community outside of the University.
• Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Outstanding Leadership and Contribution to the University Community: Douglas Tondreau, a political science major from Providence.
• Harvey Robert Turner Award for Outstanding Service to the University of Rhode Island Black Community: Richlieu A. Norris, a secondary education and history double major from Providence. Turner was a member of URI’s class of 1914, one of the earliest black graduates of URI.
• David Edmonds Award for Outstanding Artistic and Creative Expression: Jason E. Smith, a fine arts major from Middletown. Edmonds was a member of URI’s class of 1964 and had an outstanding career as an administrator at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.
• Sojourner Truth Award for Scholarly Persistence and Dedication: Kathy Young, an African and African-American Studies major from Providence. Truth escaped slavery to become a significant figure in black history. The award is presented to a senior in recognition of success despite dire financial, physical/and or personal problems that would ordinarily impede progress.
• Saint Clair Drake Award for Outstanding Scholarly Research: Omobola Onikoyi, a biological sciences major from Providence. Drake was a noted anthropologist who served as a distinguished professor on the faculty of Stanford University.
• Jackie Robinson and Althea Gibson Scholar-Athlete Awards: Kehinde Omisore, an accounting major and member of the track team from Providence; Lamonte Ulmer of Hamden, Conn. a communications studies major and member of the basketball team; and Keith C. Cothran of West Haven, Conn. a sociology major and member of the basketball team.
• Saint Elmo Brady Award for Outstanding Achievement in Science: Omotola Ashorobi, a biological sciences major from Providence; Temiloluwa A. Kusemiju, a civil engineering and German double major from Providence; and Faith Tolulope Adewusi, a clinical laboratory science major from East Providence. In 1916 Brady became the first person of African descent to earn a doctorate in chemistry.
• Noreen Coachman Award for Outstanding Achievement by an Older Student–Joy Robinson, an African and African-American Studies major from Providence. The award is named after the late Coachman, a 1973 alumna who earned her medical degree after working for years as a secretary.
• Estes Benson Award for Academic Achievement, Maxwell E. Edmonds, a biological sciences and French double major from East Greenwich, and Jessica A. Adefusika, a clinical laboratory science major from Westerly, R.I. The Benson Award is presented to a male and female student with the highest overall grade point average among black seniors.