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Foundation Salutes Outgoing Board Members

Four Alumni Served URI for a Combined 129 Years

KINGSTON, RI –June 23, 2010- At the 53rd annual meeting of the URI Foundation Trustees, held Saturday, June 19, 2010, four University of Rhode Island alumni, who have served on the URI Foundation Executive Board for a combined 129 years, were honored for their unwavering commitment and service to the University.

James Leslie, of North Kingstown; Mary Gray, of Kingston; Manny Heditsian of West Warwick; and Blanche Murray, of Jamestown, each participated in their final Executive Board meeting held prior to the annual meeting of the trustees which took place at noon.

"Each of these colleagues has played a vital and truly historical role in the shaping of the Foundation, the creation of its policies, the impact it has made on the University and its evolution into the organization it is today,” said George Graboys, chairman of the Executive Board. “Their combined service embodies the spirit of ‘giving back’ and the University is better for it.”

Glen R. Kerkian, president of the URI Foundation, added, “These four leaders have been involved with the Foundation for decades and have each made a personal and tangible contribution to furthering the goals of the Foundation and the University. And, though the length and focus of their commitment is impressive, it is the quality of their service that has made a profound difference to the entire university community.”

James Leslie, a 1952 graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, who received a graduate degree from Columbia University, was appointed to the Board in 1973, serving for 37 years in a number of capacities including on the Executive Board’s Investment Committee, Finance Committee, and Campus Beautification Committee. He also served the University as a member of the Alumni Center Committee, Alumni Marketing Committee, and Capital Campaign Committee. Jim also served as vice president for development at the University and subsequently was appointed the Foundation’s first executive director in 1963.

Mary Gray graduated from URI in 1952 from the College of Arts and Sciences and was appointed to the Board in 1979. In her 31 years of service, she served as a member of a number of committees including the Competitive Grants Committee, Nominating Committee, Annual Fund Committee, Finance Committee and many others. She held the position of president of the URI Foundation from 1993 – 1996 and also served as president of the Alumni Association (1974). Gray received an Honorary Doctor of Human Letters from URI in 1996 and served as president and executive director of the University Club.

Manoog Heditsian received his undergraduate degree in business from URI in 1947 and served on the URIF Executive Board for 28 years, having first been appointed in 1982. During his tenure, he served on various committees including the Investment Committee and the Competitive Grants Committee. He also served the University, volunteering as a member of the Alumni Center Committee, Leadership Gifts Committee and Friends of the Library. An accomplished athlete as a URI student, in both tennis and football, Manny was inducted into the URI Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991. He also chaired search committees for three major URI basketball coaching positions over the years.

Blanche Murray is a 1941 URI graduate who spent a good portion of her professional career as a teacher at Tolman High School in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. She became a Foundation board member in 1975 and in the subsequent 34 years, dedicated much of her time to her alma mater, serving as a member of the Alumni Association Executive Board, the Golden Grad Committee, Capital Campaign Committee, and Centennial Board. She also served the Foundation as a member of the Nominating Committee and the Excellence Committee, the latter of which she chaired until very recently. Murray was inducted into the College of the Environment and Life Sciences Hall of Fame in 2003 and received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from URI in 1988.

Established in 1957, the University of Rhode Island Foundation is an independent, 501 © (3) corporation charged with raising and managing private charitable support for the University, as well as the investment management of the University’s endowment portfolio. The Foundation is in the midst of overseeing URI’s $100 million Making a Difference capital campaign, which surpassed its goal in October of 2009 – a full fifteen months early. The campaign, which has raised funds to support student scholarships, faculty, programs and building construction, officially closes December 31, 2010.



For information on this or any news item, contact Tracey Manni in Development Communications, at 401.874.2145 or