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Ruth Mary Hall Is Part of the Solution

The opioid crisis and substance use disorders affect every community throughout the country and touch virtually every person in one way or another. Deaths due to drug overdose have multiplied five fold over the past two decades.

That’s why Ruth Mary Hall has invested in the University of Rhode Island College of Nursing and its faculty and students.

“There are a number of people from my high school who did not make it to middle age because of alcohol and/or drugs,” said Hall. “I graduated high school in Rhode Island in the 1970s and addiction problems were pervasive. I believe education and training are essential to get people the help they need and enable people to recognize and treat the issue.”

Hall, who now lives in Virginia, spent 23 years in diplomatic service working in various positions for the U.S. Department of State including at five embassies. While she continues to work part-time, she now pours her energy into learning more about addiction prevention and education.

Her personal connection to the College of Nursing led her to see what she calls the “amazing ability” of the school to take on this crisis. Hall’s mother was a nurse who raised her family in Rhode Island, and then earned a master’s degree in education at URI. Her mother’s second career was in employee assistance in Warwick.

When her mother died of breast cancer in 1990, only in her fifties, her family and friends established a scholarship administered by her mother’s former employer to send staff members to a summer program for addiction prevention studies. As participation waned, it was suggested that the remainder of the scholarship should be moved to URI so that nursing students could attend.

Hall created an endowment at URI in her mother’s memory in 2015. Using some of her own retirement savings and contributions from others, the Lorraine E. Julian Hall Fund for Nursing now supports a nursing scholarship and sends students to an addiction prevention summer school program.

“While I did not attend URI, my family has a long connection with the University,” said Hall. “My grandfather, Charles A. Hall, Sr., graduated from URI in 1932, then worked at and promoted URI for 50 years, ending his career as the vice president for development and alumni relations. He loved URI and was responsible for establishing the Century Club for athletics.”

In addition, there is a fund named for her grandmother, Mildred “Mello” Hall, a cellist, at the URI music library to purchase music scores.

“My long-term goal is to increase funding in the nursing account to $1 million so that we can endow a professorship in the College of Nursing that will focus on addiction prevention, education, and treatment. Increasing the number of nursing educators is essential if we are to continue to build the nursing pipeline and address this current national shortage of nurses,” she said.

Hall continues her mission to benefit URI nursing faculty and students and fight addiction for the good of every community across the country.

The URI College of Nursing is focused on making positive contributions to health care, health education, and health research, resulting in a significant jump up the national rankings. Both the undergraduate program and the master’s program are in the top 10 percent in the nation, and the College recently reached number one in New England for earning federal research funding from the National Institutes of Health.