KINGSTON — The University of Rhode Island’s new engineering building — the largest construction project in URI’s history — is nearing completion, and a $10 million gift from Michael D. and Elizabeth C. Fascitelli will help to equip and endow it. In honor of the gift, the building will be named the Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering.
Half of the gift will fund lab and research equipment, and the remaining $5 million will establish an endowed fund to support the priorities of the engineering college’s dean.
Construction of the $150 million, 190,000-square-foot project started in 2017, funded through state bonds and private philanthropy. Upon completion, it will be one of the most technologically advanced in the United States, featuring flexible space, a high-speed camera, nanoparticle analyzer, and a liquid chromatography mass spectrometer.
The donation “ensures that the new engineering facility completely fulfills its transformative potential,” said URI President David M. Dooley. “The new advanced engineering complex will be a technological achievement that will allow us to conduct state-of-the-art research and innovative teaching.”
Some of the college’s top areas of expertise include biotech, defense, and nanoscience. It provides research to companies such as Pratt & Whitney, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Raytheon, and Electric Boat/General Dynamics. It is currently collaborating with the Japanese instrumentation firm, Shimadzu Corporation, headquartered in Kyoto.
Recent initiatives for applied research include the Innovation Teaching Lab to create smart devices embedded in everyday objects, and a Water for the World lab to evaluate and develop technologies to provide safe water. URI has also been a pioneer in pairing a professional degree with language study, creating the dual-degree International Engineering Program in 1987.
“Our enrollment is growing, and the work of our students and faculty is finding meaningful application in the world beyond campus,” said Raymond M. Wright, the dean. “This gift from the Fascitellis will inspire even more creativity, innovation, and collaboration.”
In 2013, URI opened the Anna Fascitelli Fitness and Wellness Center, in honor of Michael’s mother. It employs more than 300 students and welcomes more than 20,000 monthly visitors.
Elizbeth Fascitelli is a managing director at Goldman Sachs. She is a trustee for the Partnership for Inner-City Education, the Child Mind Institute, and Dartmouth College. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Harvard University.
Michael Fascitelli serves on the URI Foundation board of directors executive committee. He graduated from the URI College of Engineering in 1978, and earned an MBA from Harvard. He is a managing partner of MDF Capital and the Imperial Companies. He is the former president and CEO of Vornado Realty Trust and former president of Alexander’s, Inc.