Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island, has received a $7 million endowment gift — the largest single gift in the university's history — from its board chairman, Ralph R. Papitto.
Mr. Papitto's gift will help fund a range of programs at the school, with the largest portion set aside for need-based scholarships to the Ralph R. Papitto School of Law. In addition, the gift will be used to enhance the university's general endowment in support of the schools of arts and sciences, business, architecture, engineering, education, and justice studies.
"Without his financial acumen, personal generosity, and leadership, we would not have been able to expand from a liberal arts college to a comprehensive university or accomplish the other advances of recent years," noted university chancellor Dr. Anthony J. Santoro. "These have included investing $100 million in physical plant, raising admissions standards, upgrading the faculty, and opening the schools of law, architecture, education, and justice studies. The state's first and only law school, carrying Mr. Papitto's name, is probably the best-known part of his legacy, but it is only one of the major contributions he has made."
Papitto was elected to the university's board of trustees in 1969 and was named chairman in 1987. Recipient of an honorary doctor of business administration from the school in 1985, he is chairman of the board of AFC Cable Systems, founder and past chairman of Nortek, Inc., and founder of several other manufacturing and financial-services companies based in southeastern New England.