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URI Community Donates to Honor Business Dean Mark Higgins with Lasting Gifts


KINGSTON, R.I., Feb. 10, 2015 – University deans have the power to touch the lives of many and make their colleges and universities better places.  Mark Higgins is one of them.

When Higgins announced he was leaving his post as dean of the University of Rhode Island’s College of Business Administration, ending a successful career after nearly 27 years on the Kingston campus, fellow administrators, professors, alumni, staff, students, and friends wanted to honor him in some way. Their generosity resulted in nearly $60,000 being raised in just a few months to establish the Higgins Family Endowed Scholarship and to boost the Ballentine Hall Improvement and Technology Upgrade Fund.

“There was an outpouring of support and a sincere desire to thank Mark for everything he has done for the College of Business and URI,” said URI Foundation President Mike Smith. “These gifts are a lasting tribute to a college dean who made a real difference in people’s lives.”

Many of Higgins’ colleagues gathered at a celebratory farewell party held at the University Club on campus in December to say goodbye and wish him well in his new capacity as dean at St. Louis University.

“In order to show Mark and his family how much we appreciated all he had accomplished, fellow colleagues, alumni, students, and staff all made an effort to attend his farewell party in December,” said Wendy Field, who is chair of the College’s Advisory Council.  “I personally noticed people from Dallas, Arizona, Florida, New York, and many other locations that had insisted on attending to honor him.”

Also in his honor, a conference room at Ballentine Hall, which is home to the College of Business Administration, was named after Higgins and his wife Annie (pictured). The Higgins Family Endowed Scholarship will support a Masters in Accounting student in the College and will be awarded annually based on financial need with a preference given to a minority student.

“Annie and I were very touched by the generosity that people displayed, contributing to both the technology upgrade fund and the Higgins Family Scholarship,” Higgins said.

As for the party, he described it as a great time and said, “To see people come in from different parts of the country was humbling. We can’t thank those people enough. While we are happy here in St. Louis, we still miss our URI friends.”

A published author who serves on countless national boards, Higgins had been dean since 2006. He held the Alfred J. Verrecchia-Hasbro Inc. Leadership Chair in Business at URI and served as director of the Masters in Accounting Program. Before joining URI, he was a tax manager for Ernst and Young in New York City. In 2006, he was elected to the American Accounting Association Northeast Region Hall of Fame.

Echoing the words and thoughts of many, Field said she will miss Mark’s enthusiasm, clear thinking, dedication, entrepreneurship, and loyalty, and she described him as a beloved leader.

“He led the College through a vast building and expansion mode, and from a curriculum that focused exclusively on learning the building blocks of business to how to apply them in a real world,” Field said. “Every student who now gets the opportunity to participate in an internship should thank Mark for pushing that priority.”

Those interested in making a gift in Mark's honor should contact Sarah Lobdell, director of development at URI’s College of Business Administration, at slobdell@uri.edu or 401.874.4716.

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For information on this or any news item, contact Tracey Manni in Development Communications, at 401.874.2145 or tmanni@foundation.uri.edu.