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Beloved Professor Contributes to the History and the Future of URI

Richard Vangermeersch M.S.’64 is passionate about accounting, history, and the University of Rhode Island. An accounting professor for 34 years who retired in 2004, his legacy and name remain prominent at URI with an endowed professorship in accounting and an endowed lecture series.

The two endowed funds began because his former students remembered him so fondly that they wanted to recognize his retirement. Years later, after evaluating his personal tax situation and estate planning objectives, Vangermeersch decided to make personal contributions that will enhance those endowed funds. A $1 million bequest in his will supports the Richard Vangermeersch M.S.’64 Accounting Professorship, and funds from his retirement accounts are annually directed to this fund as well as the Richard Vangermeersch M.S.’64 Lecture Series endowment.

“As I reviewed my taxes, it made sense to make contributions directly from my IRA’s required minimum distribution for my annual gift to RhodyNow. I reduce my adjusted gross income and my taxes and gave to funds I care about,” said Vangermeersch. “In my estate plan I’ve also made arrangements that will support the endowed professorship.”

Vangermeersch, who has written extensively about the history of accounting and ethics, as well as the College of Business and local history, reviewed the history of the endowed funds.

“Michaela Mooney (M.S.’87) worked in the Foundation in the early 2000s and she visited many of the College of Business alumni,” said Vangermeersch. “She came up with the idea that they would like to support an endowed fund in my name.

“We planned a retirement dinner that would create an endowed professorship. The accounting department didn’t have any endowed professorships, and I thought it would be important to build the prestige and reputation of the department and the College.”

In fact, the dinner attracted 260 alumni, friends, colleagues, and family and raised $160,000 toward the goal of $250,000. They raised the remainder by 2007.

“Some people decided they wanted to support a lecture series and others wanted a scholarship,” said Vangermeersch. “We kept options open so people could give to what they wanted. All the funds have grown over the years and I am deeply grateful to the people who contributed and continue to contribute.”

Vangermeersch was born and raised in Rhode Island. He graduated from Bryant College, and attended URI’s continuing education program for a liberal arts certificate and earned his M.S. in 1964. He went to work in Washington, D.C. at the General Accounting Office, but he missed the classroom and decided to earn his Ph.D. from the University of Florida while teaching.

“I have an unusual background for many accounting professors,” said Vangermeersch. “I’ve worked in government, nonprofits, major companies, and teaching. I think it is very important for all people to know about taxes, which is why I loved teaching about it.”

Retirement has been an opportunity for Vangermeersch to pursue other passions, including researching and writing about local history, serving on the Narragansett Finance Committee, and serving on the board of two not-for-profit organizations. He is making sure URI students will benefit from his legacy far into the future.

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