The College of the Environment and Life Sciences

They Put Their Money Where Their Hearts Are

Alumni couple establish the Ken ’71, MA ’73 and Laura ’73, MPA ’79 Kenerson Endowed Scholarship for marine affairs students with financial need.

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Ken and Laura Kenerson met as students—he as a graduate and she as an undergraduate—at URI. They had a clambake wedding reception on the Narragansett Bay Campus. Their public service careers did not venture far from their alma mater—his more than three decades for the State of Rhode Island, including the State Budget Office, Department of Administration and URI, and hers currently in her fifth decade at URI in human resources.

Much of their lives have been spent on the Kingston campus, by Narragansett Bay, and around local marshland, having lived on Point Judith Pond in Wakefield for 40 years. This was part of their motivation to establish the Ken ’71, MA ’73 and Laura ’73, MPA ’79 Kenerson Endowed Scholarship for marine affairs students with financial need.

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

“Laura and I have always had a mutual love of the water, especially the ocean,” said Ken. “Both of us grew up on the water and have been on the water—boating and fishing—our whole lives. We recognize the importance of it and want to support the improvement and conservation of our waterways by helping marine affairs students complete their degrees and launch their careers.

“When I retired from the State, I went to work as a crew member on R/V Atlantis at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). I had the good fortune to interact with oceanographers and other scientists from all over the world. It was a great experience. I retired from WHOI. It seemed only fitting that I’d have this second retirement from working on the oceans I love.”

From their home on Point Judith Pond, the Kenersons are daily front-row observers of a diverse array of marine and bird life. Their personal commitment to both URI and the protection of water resources has resulted in a gift that benefits not just students but the future of the Ocean State.

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