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Mario Family Foundation Makes $500,000 Gift to URI

Multi-year pledge will support construction of new College of Pharmacy building and specifically fund 3-D Visualization Auditorium

Dr. Ernest MarioKINGSTON, RI – April 8, 2009 – The University of Rhode Island Foundation today announced that the University has received a gift commitment for $500,000 from the Mario Family Foundation, based in Princeton, New Jersey.   The gift is part of the University’s Making a Difference $100 million capital campaign.

 The president of the Mario Family Foundation, Dr. Ernest Mario, received his master’s degree and doctorate from URI’s College of Pharmacy in 1964 and 1966, respectively.  He received his undergraduate degree from Rutgers University. 

 This most recent gift from the Mario family will support the College of Pharmacy’s planned construction of a $75 million, state-of-the-art facility to become home to the University’s fast-growing and highly regarded pharmacy program. The gift will, in particular, support the inclusion of a 167-seat 3D “visualization auditorium” within the building. This space will take the college’s use of 3D technology to a new level with a huge IMAX® like projection system delivering 3D content ranging from the molecular to the anatomical; enhancing understanding and student engagement.  URI Professor of Biomedical Sciences Bongsup Cho, right, demonstrates 3D technology.

 The new 147,000 square foot building will include a pharmacy teaching suite with such features as a professional practice lab, a high-fidelity patient simulation center and the 3D auditorium, funded by the Mario Family Foundation.  Cutting-edge research spaces have been designed to foster interaction and the sharing of advanced scientific research support.  Core facilities within the building will be dedicated to advanced analytical instrumentation, nuclear magnetic resonance and pharmaceutical research and research floors will provide space for teaching labs affording students the opportunity to interact with the college’s research enterprise.  The new building is also designed as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver-rated building and, as such, will be built to reduce impact on the environment during design, construction and eventual operation and use.

 Pharmacy Interim-dean Ron Jordan said, “The Mario Family Foundation’s contributions to the URI College of Pharmacy have been critically important to our program, faculty and students.  The Endowed Mario Distinguished Chair in Pharmaceutics, coupled with this present gift to support our 3D visualization auditorium, will help continue our preeminent work in educating Pharmaceutical Doctorate candidates and graduate students as well as in the area of drug discovery research.  We are very grateful for the leadership and generosity Dr. Mario has provided and extremely proud of our programs associated with his name.”

 URI Foundation President Glen R. Kerkian added, “This generous gift commitment, particularly given the severity of the present economic climate, is quite significant and will make a measurable impact on the planned construction of the new building, which should commence in 2009.  We remain optimistic that alumni and pharmacy supporters will continue to demonstrate their commitment to what has become a nationally-acclaimed pharmacy program here at URI and one which has helped elevate URI’s status as a premier institution of higher learning.”

  A recognized leader in the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Mario’s career spans over four decades, and includes his serving as chief executive of Glaxo from 1989-1993, during which time five major new medicines were launched.  He later transitioned ALZA Corporation, a drug delivery technology firm, into a full-fledged research-based pharmaceutical company that became part of industry giant Johnson & Johnson in 2001.  Dr. Mario recently served as Chairman of Reliant Pharmaceuticals of Liberty Corner, New Jersey and is presently Chairman and CEO of Capnia, Incorporated, Palo Alto, California. He was awarded the prestigious Remington Honor Medal, the pharmacy profession’s highest honor, administered by the American Pharmacists Association, in 2007.

 Dr. Mario has long supported major pharmacy, health care and educational organizations, including the University of Rhode Island, which received a $1.5 million gift from him in 1996 to establish the Ernest Mario Distinguished Chair in Pharmaceutics.  He served as the chairman of the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education Board for 15 years and remains committed to the future of pharmacy, pharmaceutical education and public health. 

 “The Mario Family Foundation has been a key benefactor of the pharmacy profession for many years,” commented Jordan.  “Their numerous contributions which are enhancing industry progress toward greater roles in improving public health are well-known.  Dr. Mario’s own innovations in drug product development and corporate leadership in pharmacy are numerous and they bring credit to all the pharmacy higher education institutions he has been associated with, URI among them.”
 
 URI’s “Making a Difference” campaign seeks $100 million to recruit and retain outstanding faculty, enhance the student-centered campus experience, provide undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships, and fund cutting-edge academic and research initiatives.  Alumni or friends interested in supporting URI’s College of Pharmacy should contact Assistant Dean of Development Rich Popovic at 401.874.9017 or by email at rpopovic@foundation.uri.edu.  For more information on the Making A Difference capital campaign click on www.urifoundation.org.


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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.