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Recent Charitable Gifts to URI Will Benefit College of Pharmacy Student Leaders, Help Support Pharmacy Innovation

KINGSTON, R.I.  -Three recent gifts to the University of Rhode Island’s College of Pharmacy, two from alumni and one donated anonymously, will benefit students and support the College’s Pharmacy Innovation Fund.

Paul Hastings, a 1984 alumnus of URI’s Pharmacy program, recently completed a $100,000 gift to fund an existing scholarship honoring one of his favorite professors, Norman Campbell, and he has pledged another $150,000 for a total gift of $250,000. The Norman A. and Mary Campbell Scholarship supports students who demonstrate academic proficiency and leadership in pharmacy student organizations. Established in 2001, the scholarship has made a significant impact, with dozens of scholarships awarded to deserving pharmacy students, including six in the current academic year alone.

A resident of San Francisco, Hastings has contributed to the Campbell Scholarship since it was created as a way of thanking URI Professor Emeritus and College of Pharmacy Ambassador Norman Campbell, whom Hastings described as his number one mentor.

“He took me under his wing and helped me. The Campbell’s became my second family and giving to the scholarship fund always made perfect sense, given the love I had for the family and the kindred sort of duality I had in terms of not wanting to invest just in infrastructure but in students,” he said.

Hastings wants to help students because he remembers all too clearly struggling to pay for college. “If I could afford tuition, I couldn’t afford food. If I could afford food, I couldn’t afford transportation. It just went around and around and it’s even worse for students now.”

Hastings serves as chairman and chief executive officer of OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, a leader in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. He has been honored multiple times by URI, including the 2014 Distinguished Achievement Award Presidential Award, and said receiving URI’s Diversity Award for Lifetime Achievement was very meaningful.

URI Alumnus Dea Belazi, of Wayne, PA, who received his doctor of pharmacy degree in 2001, and his wife, Danielle DeFeo, recently established a new student scholarship with a $25,000 gift commitment.  The Dea Belazi Family Scholarship will provide financial assistance to pharmacy students who demonstrate academic proficiency and leadership in pharmacy student organizations at URI. Belazi is president and CEO of AscellaHealth in Berwyn, PA.

For both Belazi and DeFeo, paying for college was a challenge. Without scholarships and grants, Belazi said he probably wouldn’t have been able to graduate and obtain the education that paved the way for a successful career.

“The impact of going to school and the way my career has panned out has been such a blessing and it stems from getting my Pharm.D.,” he said. “So to be able to help others in that way is extremely important.”

Finally, an anonymous gift commitment of $75,000 will support the College of Pharmacy Innovation Fund at URI. The Fund was created to support the pursuit of continued excellence and the critical components of the College’s mission including supporting and retaining faculty and students from around the world who have a passion to innovate and contribute to new discoveries and an exciting learning environment. The Fund will enable the College to pursue new ways to enhance its position as a national and international leader and provide resources for faculty to engage in research, education, and practice.

College of Pharmacy Dean E. Paul Larrat said donations such as these recent gifts to the College are essential in helping students graduate.

“Over 100 scholarships a year, based on merit and on need, are awarded to Pharmacy students. The merit-based scholarships are very important and those awarded based on need fill critical holes in student expenses. The students count on it,” he said.

Larrat said the connections between the donors and students go beyond just the financial with many donors becoming a source of advice and counsel for students. In one case, he noted, a Campbell Scholarship recipient may not have been able to complete his studies and graduate were it not for his award.  Paul Hastings not only contributed to this highly valued scholarship, but he also became an advocate for the student, providing key mentoring from afar, Larrat said.

Larrat noted that all of the recent gifts supporting the College of Pharmacy would be impactful at the College, enhancing opportunity across the board.

“We are very grateful to our College alumni for their commitment to supporting our vision and the students who have come after them,” he said.

The URI College of Pharmacy is home to a dynamic research enterprise that brings students into contact with world-leading researchers developing solutions to many of society’s most pressing health care problems. The College of Pharmacy’s research funding, in excess of $10 million per year, positions it among the top 25 pharmacy schools in the country. Its state of the art, 150,000-square-foot teaching and research facility provides many of the tools necessary for scientific discovery leading to better medical treatment and improved patient quality of life.  For the current academic year, the College has 799 Pharm.D. students, 172 B.S. Pharmaceutical Science students and 53 graduate students.

For more information, please visit To make a gift supporting the College, contact Senior Director of Development Myrna Bizer at at 401.874.9017 or