URI plans event to honor former Talent Development leader and celebrate the creation of the program, Oct. 18

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KINGSTON, RI – Oct. 10, 2014 — The University of Rhode Island will hold a special celebration to honor the life and work of the late Leo F. DiMaio Jr., retired director of URI’s Talent Development Program. The event is also to celebrate the genesis of the life-changing program itself that was designed by a 24-year-old who had graduated from URI in 1967, Harold V. Langlois, who will deliver the keynote address.

A reception and dinner will be held on Saturday, Oct. 18, 5:30-9 p.m. in the Ballroom at the Memorial Union, Kingston Campus. Tickets are $50 per person and may be purchased online or by mail to the URI Alumni Association, 73 Upper College Road, Kingston RI 02881. All proceeds from the event will benefit the DiMaio/Forleo Endowed Scholarship fund.

The evening will feature greetings from President Emeritus Robert L. Carothers on behalf of URI President David M. Dooley, a Keynote address by Talent Development founder Langlois and remarks by members of DiMaio’s family and a video of remembrance.

A remarkable man, DiMaio won the respect and friendship of his colleagues and students at URI from 1969 to 1998. He dedicated his life and career to advancing the cause of expanding educational opportunity for students of color and disadvantaged students. Known as “Mr. D.,” he earned many awards and honors throughout his career. He was the face of a program that still fights for social justice, one student at a time. He died at home on Feb. 20 and hundreds of former students, colleagues and friends gathered from around the nation to mourn with his family.

The formal event on Oct. 18 will celebrate the vision and decades of leadership that built the program into what is affectionately known as “TD Nation.” Now a very strong 46 years old, this well-developed and highly regarded program has a corps of leaders who are well tuned to the mission, strategies, cultural awareness and amount of love that it takes to support students from a variety of backgrounds.

About 70 percent of the TD staff are graduates of the program, many of whom were students while Mr. D. was director, and many say that Mr. D’s motto and legacy of friendship is infused into this nation.

Talent Development leaders say they are delighted that Langlois will return to URI to share his reflections about DiMaio and the program’s earliest years.

In fact, the Talent Development program was born in 1968 as expanding access to higher education for all became a focal point for a vast social movement. After receiving his master’s degree at the University of Indiana, Langlois came back to URI with the dream and ambition to get the program he envisioned started at his alma mater.

With administrative approvals and a budget of only $56,000 he set out to start a six-week summer program at URI that would open the doors for students who wanted to pursue a college education but were in some way disadvantaged and unable to attend. When the student numbers doubled the following year, Langlois asked the Rev. Arthur L. Hardge to join and lead the program forward in a meaningful way. Hardge was the first African American to hold a cabinet-level position in then Rhode Island Governor John Chafee’s office. Langlois then recruited Dimaio, who was well known for his innovative work as an educator at the Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institution.

Confident with this inspirational team of leaders who were dedicated to the new program, Langlois moved on to continue his studies at the University of Connecticut and began a distinguished teaching, research, service and consulting career at Worcester State.

Today, the Wakefield, R.I., resident is the founder and president of Creative Management Associates, a financial industry consulting group and a professor teaching management at Harvard University’s Division of Continuing Education.

As he wrote in a newsletter published by TD in 2004: “TD came about as a need to produce something that needed to get done. It didn’t have to do with color, it didn’t have to do with what was right, it had to do with justice. It was a responsibility to represent the unrepresented.”

With DiMaio’s commitment to that vision, his dedication and unique leadership style, the TD Nation continues to thrive, opening the doors for thousands of today’s Big Thinkers.