WEST GREENWICH – The University of Rhode Island celebrated the 50th anniversary of its W. Alton Jones Campus on Sunday, with a re-dedication event at the campus’ Whispering Pines conference center.
The 2,309-acre W. Alton Jones Campus was named for the oil executive whose wife donated the property to URI following his death in 1962.
“Fifty years ago, a grieving widow decided that the most fitting way to honor her late husband, W. Alton Jones, was to preserve his beloved fishing and hunting retreat for future generations to learn from and enjoy,” said Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee, who spoke at the event.
“Now, half a century later, the people of the state of Rhode Island continue to benefit from this remarkable decision, from the generosity of Nettie Marie Jones and the foresight of the University of Rhode Island officials who led the acquisition,” said Chafee, adding that the campus’ milestone anniversary “is truly a cause for celebration and appreciation.”
Chafee was joined on Sunday by URI President David M. Dooley and U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, among others.
Part of the yearlong celebration of the Alton Jones Campus anniversary included a book published about its history, reunions of the Environmental Education Center and Executive MBA program staff, and a series of nature walks held on the campus.
The school intends to dedicate a telescope and observatory on the property in November.
“Perhaps the most important gift of the Alton Jones Campus is that children who come here leave with a lifelong connection to nature,” said Whitehouse in a statement. “I hope that Rhode Islanders will continue to reap the benefits of this beautiful forest and farmland for another 50 years.”