URI to present Distinguished Achievement Awards, Oct. 25

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KINGSTON, R.I. – October 22, 2014 – Three respected business executives, a celebrated molecular biologist and one of Rhode Island’s iconic companies will share the spotlight at the University of Rhode Island’s ninth annual Distinguished Achievement Awards on Oct. 25 at the Newport Marriott. In addition, 18 leaders in a diverse array of disciplines will also be honored by URI’s colleges and the Graduate School of Oceanography.

The awards honor alumni and friends of URI who have brought distinction to themselves and the University through their professional achievements, outstanding leadership and/or community service.


The President’s Award recipients are:


Wesley R. Card ’70, retired chief executive officer of The Jones Group, Inc., where he served the company for 25 years, including positions as president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer. The former chair of the American Apparel and Footwear Association, he began his career at Price Waterhouse and Bank of Boston before becoming corporate controller for Warnaco Inc. He later became executive vice president and chief financial officer for Carolyne Roehm, Inc. before joining The Jones Group. He is a member of the URI President’s Advisory Council, a former member of the URI Business Advisory Council and chair of the Big Chill/Winter Gala Committee. He lives in Prides Crossing, Mass.


Thomas D. Cerio III ’76, executive vice president of Warner Brothers, who is responsible for bringing Warner Brothers television programming to domestic basic cable networks and digital content providers. He is responsible for making the deals that bring shows like The Big Bang Theory to cable. He previously was executive vice president of program sales for HBO, where he was responsible for distributing programs like The Sopranos and Sex and the City to basic cable networks. He began his career in television at Orion Pictures and Disney. He is a member of the Executive Advisory Board of URI’s Harrington School of Communication and Media. He lives in Old Greenwich, Conn.

Paul Hastings ’84, chairman and chief executive officer of OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, a leader in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries for more than 20 years. He has served as president and CEO of QLT, Inc., Axys Pharmaceuticals and LXR Biotechnology, and president of Chiron BioPharma. He also held management positions with Genzyme Corp., including president of Genzyme Therapeutics Worldwide. Today he leads OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, a clinical development-stage biopharmaceutical company in Redwood City, Calif. In 2011 he was the first member of the LGBT community to be awarded URI’s Diversity Award for Lifetime Achievement, and he has been an active supporter of StartOut, which fosters leadership among LGBT entrepreneurs and combats LGBT discrimination in the business world. He lives in San Francisco.

Diane Pennica Ph.D ’77, retired senior scientist at biotechnology company Genentech, whose 30-year career included projects to help reduce or eliminate the effects of heart attacks, strokes and cancer. Her 1987 invention, the clot-busting drug Activase, has helped treat more than 4.7 million patients who suffered heart attacks and strokes. She also cloned a vital tumor-suppressor gene, which was named Molecule of the Year in 1993 by the journal Science and opened a new field of cancer research. She discovered three new genes that are implicated in colon cancer, and she was the first to clone tumor necrosis factor, the protein responsible for joint destruction. Her research has led to therapies such as Enbrel, which have helped millions of people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. She lives in Dana Point, Calif.

This year’s corporate honoree is Hasbro, the toy and game company that employs numerous URI alumni and student interns. Pawtucket-based Hasbro has been extremely generous to the University through the years, with gifts supporting academics, athletics, student affairs and alumni relations. It has supported URI’s international engineering and international business programs and its Center for Non-Violence and Peace Studies, and funded an endowed chair in business. Founded by the grandfather and great-uncles of URI Foundation Trustee Alan G. Hassenfeld, the company has been included on lists of the best companies to work for, the most ethical companies in the world, the best corporate citizens and the most community-minded companies.


Each URI college will also recognize noted individuals with a Dean’s List award. The honorees are:


Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Continuing Education


Gary J. Burkholder Jr. ’92, M.A. ’95, Ph.D. ’00, chief academic officer at Laureate University Partnerships, has served in numerous leadership roles with Laureate Education, Inc., a worldwide network of higher education institutions. As chief academic officer at Laureate University Partnerships, he is responsible for all academic and regulatory matters. He previously served as dean and vice president at Walden University, director of psychology programs at the University of Liverpool Online, and vice president at the National Hispanic University. He also has an extensive background in individual and public health research, having served as senior research associate at the Institute for Community Research in Hartford and director of the survey center and data management for the Institute for Community Health Promotion at Brown University. He lives in Tucson, Ariz.


College of Arts and Sciences


Lori J. Merolla ’83, M.S., vice president at Fidelity Investments, has held several communications positions at Fidelity, where she now serves as vice president of the company’s communications and corporate affairs division, responsible for developing strategic communications for its Fidelity Institutional business. She previously was marketing and communications director for the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training and taught in the URI Department of Communications Studies. She serves on the advisory councils of the URI College of Arts and Sciences and the Harrington School of Communication and Media, and she is a board member of the Providence Performing Arts Center. She lives in Rehoboth, Mass.


Ann M. Spruill ’76, retired partner at GMO LLC, had a distinguished career in the investment industry, where she worked as an investment manager for several leading firms. Semi-retired as a partner at GMO, a private institutional asset management firm, she managed the company’s active mandates and directed international equity investment strategies. She was also responsible for the firm’s fundamental research, investment, trading and compliance activities. She serves as a director of Harbor Funds, a trustee of the Financial Accounting Foundation and a member of the Investment Committee of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She is a trustee of the URI Foundation and established an endowed scholarship for URI students who achieve academic excellence. She lives in Boston.


College of Business Administration


Thomas J. Chisholm ’68, chief executive officer of Chisholm Ventures, LLC, serves on the URI College of Business Administration Advisory Council and established a business teaching endowment to support teaching excellence at the College. As CEO of Chisholm Ventures, he is a technology entrepreneur who invests in early-stage companies and helps other entrepreneurs through consulting, investing and mentoring. He previously founded Voice Integrators, Inc., a consulting, software development and systems integration firm in the call center and customer interaction field. When he sold the company to Nuance Communications in 2007, he remained with the company as senior vice president of enterprise products and services. He lives in Allendale, N.J.


Kenneth E. Knox ’70, regional director of Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co., is a member of the URI College of Business Advisory Council and a trustee of the URI Foundation. In his 44-year career in finance and insurance, he made his mark on the industry in 1982 as founder of Harbor Point Financial Group, a Connecticut Mutual Life general agency that has won numerous awards. He now directs the New England region for Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co., where he specializes in small business and estate planning for businesses and high net-worth individuals. Active in many community organizations, he received the URI Alumni Service Award in 1984 and the Alumni Ram Award in 1995. He lives in Seekonk, Mass.


College of Engineering


William J. Murray ’78, M.B.A., president of Teknor Apex Co., joined the staff of the Pawtucket-based company soon after graduating from URI in 1978. He has held leadership roles there in engineering, manufacturing and executive management, and he led the company’s construction of green field manufacturing locations and the acquisition of domestic and international businesses. He leads the global business operations for the company’s PVC, thermoplastic elastomer and nylon divisions, and he is responsible for all engineering, technology, manufacturing and supply chain operations. He is a member of the URI College of Engineering Advisory Council and a founding member of The Energy Council of Rhode Island. He lives in Foster.


Daniel W. Urish M.S., Ph.D. ’78, professor emeritus of civil engineering at URI and an engineering consultant, served in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps for 25 years, where he supervised the drilling of 240 wells to provide drinking water to Allied forces during the Vietnam War. He also commanded 800 Seabees in the construction of a communications station and airfield on an island in the Indian Ocean, among other assignments. After retiring from the Navy, he launched a 26-year career at URI, teaching courses in civil engineering and conducting hydrological research projects on many islands along the New England coast, groundwater studies in the Azores, and ecological research on tropical islands off Belize. He was named Rhode Island’s Engineer of the Year in 1994. He lives in North Kingstown.


College of the Environment and Life Sciences


Perry Raso ’02, M.S. ’06, owner of Matunuck Oyster Bar and Matunuck Oyster Farm, is a new breed of aquaculturist who combines a love of farming with education, science, and a global environmental outlook. A passionate advocate for locally grown seafood and produce, his celebrated restaurant has earned nationwide recognition for its “farm to table, pond to plate” mission. To further compliment his focus on providing local, sustainable food, he started a vegetable farm to provide ingredients for the restaurant’s dishes. His oyster farm produces about 500,000 market-sized oysters each year, which he sells at farmers markets and to high-end restaurants and stores like Whole Foods. He has traveled with URI faculty to Southeast Asia and Africa to promote aquaculture and educate local farmers on sustainable practices. He lives in Wakefield.


Edward Ueber M.S. ’76, owner of Bluebird Oaks Organic Peach Farm, was designated an Ocean Hero by the Smithsonian Institution and is the 2014 Bay Hero for San Francisco Bay. He has been integral to ocean management and policy since the 1970s, working successfully with fishermen, politicians and shipping interests to protect ocean life. For 15 years, he was manager of several national marine sanctuaries off the coast of California, overseeing a 2,900-square-nautical-mile area. He later was the National Park Service’s ocean superintendent. An expert on abalone, sardine, groundfish, crab, fishery economics and fishery management, he began his career as a Navy submarine navigator and worked in the merchant marine. He lives in San Francisco.


College of Human Science and Services


Caroline Tennant Kaull ’66 has served the University of Rhode Island for many years. She was elected to the Alumni Board in 1982 and has been a longtime member of the executive board of the URI Foundation, where she served as its president, vice president and chair of several committees. The recipient of the Alumni Service Award and the Ram Award, she received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 2003 for her service to the University. Very active in her community, she taught physical education, coached cheerleading, and taught dance aerobics to all ages. She is currently president of Townsend Aid for the Aged, a charitable organization that provides aid to needy elderly in the Newport area. She lives in Portsmouth.


Janet W. Raymond ’79, M.B.A., senior vice president at the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, oversees economic and workforce development activities at the Chamber, including its Knowledge Economy initiative, and coordinates several Chamber committees. She is chair of the Providence/Cranston Workforce Investment Board, an appointed member of the State Planning Council, a member of the Lieutenant Governor’s Small Business Advisory Council, and serves on several other community and professional advisory committees. In 2010 she was named Member of the Year by the Northeastern Economic Developers Association for her contributions to the economic development profession. Prior to joining the Chamber, she was director of economic development for the City of Warwick and a senior policy advisor to former Gov. Bruce Sundlun. She lives in West Warwick.


College of Nursing


Rebecca L. Burke ’76, RN, M.S., senior vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Kent County Hospital, has served in leadership positions at several hospitals in southern New England. At Kent County Hospital, she is responsible for all patient care services for the 359-bed facility. She served in a similar capacity at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford and at The Miriam Hospital in Providence, where she was also chief operating officer. At Miriam, she previously directed inpatient and emergency nursing services and ambulatory services. A member of the URI College of Nursing Advisory Council, she was a recipient of the College of Nursing Alumni Award and the Nursing Leadership Award from the Rhode Island State Nurses Association. She lives in Barrington.


Elaine Barber Parker ’74, M.S. ’79, Ph.D. ’97, retired associate professor of nursing at the University of Massachusetts Graduate School of Nursing, had a significant role in developing distance learning and online education for the UMass nursing program. She served as the coordinator of the Nurse Educator specialty program and as principal investigator for the Nurse Faculty Loan Program. Previously she was the director of nursing education at Kent County Hospital in Warwick and a faculty member at the St. Joseph School of Nursing in North Providence. She retired as a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, where she served as chief nurse of the 804th Medical Brigade and was a member of the advisory council for the TriService Military Nursing Research Program. She lives in Asheville, N.C.


College of Pharmacy


Anthony Palmieri III ’71, M.S. ’73, Ph.D., associate scholar of pharmaceutics at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy, has achieved distinction as a pharmacist and pharmaceutical scientist, intellectual property expert, editor, organizational leader and historian. He began his professional career as a faculty member at the University of Wyoming, before becoming a patent expert in the pharmaceutical industry. He later joined the University of Florida’s Office of Technology Licensing and its College of Pharmacy, where he is the graduate school coordinator and curator of the College of Pharmacy Museum. A former member of the URI Pharmacy Advisory Council, he is the inventor of a basket dissolution apparatus for suppositories that is widely used, and editor of The Handbook of Pharmaceutical Excipients. He lives in Gainesville, Fla.


Jean-Marie Pflomm Pharm.D. ’96, editor of The Medical Letter, held clinical positions at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx, the Arnold and Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy in Brooklyn, Long Island Jewish Medical Center and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center before turning to pharmaceutical publishing. She also served as a consultant pharmacist to long-term care facilities in New York. A preceptor for doctor of pharmacy students at URI, she served as director of drug information and now editor at The Medical Letter Inc., a nonprofit organization that publishes critical appraisals of new prescription drugs, comparative reviews of previously approved drugs, and reviews of drug classes used to treat common disorders. She lives in Stony Point, N.Y.


Graduate School of Oceanography


Amy S. Bower Ph.D. ’88, senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where she is a leading physical oceanographer who has participated in 22 sea-going research expeditions to study ocean circulation and currents and authored more than 50 scientific publications. The Doherty Chair in Ocean Studies at the Sea Education Association, she is a pioneer in bringing science to the visually impaired. Legally bind, she founded OceanInsight, a partnership with the Perkins School for the Blind, to inspire young people to pursue careers in the geosciences that they otherwise may have considered unattainable. Chosen as an Unsung Heroine of Massachusetts by the state’s Commission on the Status of Women, she received the first Chrysalis Award from the Center for Vision Loss. She lives in Falmouth, Mass.


Christopher T. H. Pell M.M.A. ’80, retired executive director of The Preservation Society of Newport County, is chair of the Graduate School of Oceanography Advisory Council. As leader of the Preservation Society, from which he retired in 1998, he was credited with modernizing the Society and turning it into a more streamlined operation and expanding alternative lines of business through licensing and reproductions. He is a member of The John A. Hartford Foundation board of trustees and has served on multiple other local boards, including that of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum. He was previously a partner at Barclay Investments, where he specialized in institutional fixed income investments. He lives in Newport.


The University will also award its first Rising Star Award to Wilson K. Okello M.S. ’12, who has gotten off to a fast start in his career in college student affairs. As an advisor to first year students at Miami University, he guides them in their transition to college, educational paths and personal and career goals. He co-founded a support group for students of color who are in leadership positions and collaborated with faculty to plan and implement a Civil Rights study tour. As a graduate student at URI, he was a counselor in the Talent Development Program, a residence hall director and chair of the mentorship program for the Alumni of Color Network. In 2013 he was recognized with the Outstanding New Professional Award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. He lives in Youngstown, Ohio.