URI’s Talent Development program to celebrate 50 years this fall

Initiative serves Rhode Island students from underserved backgrounds

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862 |

KINGSTON, R.I., August 21, 2018 — From its first class of 13 students in 1968, the University of Rhode Island’s Talent Development program has grown into a large and thriving program that gives underserved Rhode Islanders a chance to earn a University degree.

Now 50 years and more than 3,580 graduates later, the program is celebrating its golden anniversary and marking the success of students and alumni who work in nearly every professional field imaginable.

On Oct. 6 at 5 p.m., Talent Development staff, alumni and friends will gather to celebrate the long history and bright future of the program at the Omni Providence Hotel, 1 West Exchange St., Providence. Tickets to the event are $50 and proceeds will benefit the TD Nation Foundation Fund. Scholars who graduated from the program within the past 10 years can purchase tickets for $35.

A brief speaking program will kick off the celebration, followed by dinner and an evening of dancing, reuniting and reminiscing. Attendees can look forward to a silent auction and a commemorative video that will highlight representatives from each of the decades of Talent Development at URI.

“What a night this is going to be,” said Gerald Williams, director of Talent Development and a proud graduate of the program. “We invite our alumni, staff, students and faculty who have helped make Talent Development the excellent program it is today. We’ll shine the spotlight on our history, the big events, the outstanding personal accomplishments of our graduates and all that Talent Development has meant to URI. We invite the entire URI community to join us as we look forward to another great 50 years. Bring your dancing shoes and your stories.”

Williams said the program will honor three individuals who provided the foundation for the program, Harold V. Langlois, a 1967 graduate who designed the original program as a 24-year-old; the Rev. Arthur L. Hardge, one of the original leaders of the program; and Leo F. DiMaio Jr., who served the program from 1969 until his retirement as director in 1998. Talent Development was born in the summer of 1968 as a result of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and under the leadership of Langlois, Hardge and DiMaio.

Talent Development enrolls more than 1,200 scholars, whose majors span pre-medicine to fine arts and everything in between. The program operates under four core values that spell out RAMS: respect, academic achievement and excellence, mental health and wellness and scholar success.

“For the last 50 years, the Talent Development program has contributed substantially to providing access to URI for underrepresented minority and educationally disadvantaged students from the state of Rhode Island,” said Kathy Collins, vice president for Student Affairs. “Since its formation, the staff in Talent Development have been dedicated to its access mission. As we plan for the program’s next 50 years, we are laser-focused on both access and academic success, including graduation, of our Talent Development Scholars.”

Sponsors for the event include Cox Communications, Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara LLC, DLA Piper Global Law Firm, Plourde, Bogue, Moylan & Marino, LLP and other anonymous donors. 

Olivia Ross, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and a public relations major, wrote this press release.