SOUTH KINGSTOWN – The University of Rhode Island has received roughly $2.5 million from the estates and bequests of URI alumni brothers John and David Parker, the University of Rhode Island Foundation announced Tuesday.
The $2.5 million gift, one of the largest ever received by the university, will be used primarily to support the College of Engineering as it embarks on a new building campaign.
A portion of the funds were also earmarked by the late Parker brothers to fund two endowments.
The Dr. Malcolm L. & Nicole Spaulding Scholarship in Ocean Engineering is an existing endowment fund that provides scholarships to undergraduate students studying ocean engineering. The other endowment, the John Parker and David E. Parker Library Endowment, created by and named for the brothers, provides library resources to support the engineering curriculum.
“This is a very significant gift and is, in fact, one of the largest bequests ever received by the University,” URI President David M. Dooley said in prepared remarks.
“I am told that John Parker was a wonderful and much-admired professor and member of the university community. His generosity, as well as that of his brother, David, will stand as a lasting tribute to the brothers’ commitment to this university and to the profession of engineering,” added Dooley. “A great number of students will benefit both directly and indirectly from this gift for many generations.”
The late John Parker, class of 1940, was a URI professor of engineering for 25 years. John Parker graduated in 1940 with an engineering degree and went on to receive his master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1950. Parker served as a professor of mechanical engineering from 1952 to 1977. He died in June 2011 at the age of 93.
Elder brother David Parker received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from the URI College of Arts and Sciences in 1934. He worked as a chemist for the Naval Underwater Systems Center in New London, Conn., before retiring in 1972. He passed away in 2001.
According to a URI release, the brothers were well known as highly competitive and skilled sailors. They spent much of their time building skiffs, which they donated to the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, and also spent a great deal of time racing as members of the Watch Hill Yacht Club.
“The Parker brothers’ gifts will have a tremendous impact on the college and its students, providing significant support to a number of college priorities, including the College of Engineering Future Fund, the mechanical engineering department and scholarships,” College of Engineering Dean Raymond Wright said in a statement.
“John was a valued member of the college faculty in his day. He was well respected and passionately committed to teaching students about engineering. The philanthropic support from John and his brother David will have a tangible effect on the college, its faculty and students,” added Wright.