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Alumni Couple Establish a Marine Affairs Scholarship at URI

The University of Rhode Island announced the establishment of the Ken ’71, MA ’73 and Laura ’73, MPA ’79 Kenerson Endowed Scholarship for marine affairs students with financial need.

The Kenersons have a strong affinity for the University and for the protection of the ocean and marshlands. Laura Kenerson has worked in human resources at URI for more than 40 years, and Ken spent more than 30 years in public finance administration for the State of Rhode Island, including time as both state budget officer and vice president of business and finance at URI.

“In addition to helping students, this scholarship will ultimately benefit marine policy on both the local and global scale,” said John Kirby, dean of the College of the Environment and Life Sciences. “The marine affairs program focuses on preparing students to work with communities to protect our coasts, oceans, and waterways.”

Marine affairs faculty and students focus on studying the economic and ecological challenges of overuse and climate change to develop solutions that are based on scientific data and stakeholder input. Policymakers around the world rely on the department’s expertise in the creation of coastal resources management models, and program faculty provide input on the development of international ocean policy and law.

“It’s hard to fathom anyone loving URI more than I do,” said Laura. “It’s been such an important part of my adult life. Ken and I feel so fortunate that we are able to pay it forward.”

“We both grew up by the water and have lived by Narragansett Bay and marshlands our entire married life,” said Ken. “We recognize the importance of protecting and improving our oceans and waterways by supporting students who focus on marine affairs.”

In 1970, URI established the first marine affairs graduate program in the world. The marine affairs department advances teaching, research, and outreach to ensure the sustainability of coastal and ocean ecosystems through fisheries management, marine conservation and protection, climate adaptation and community resilience, coastal and marine spatial planning, and renewable energy production in a marine setting.