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Toray pledges $2 million to proposed campus engineering project

By: Frank Antosiewicz

February 28, 2014

Toray Plastics (America) Inc. is pledging $2 million to help the University of Rhode Island’s College of Engineering remake its campus through a $125 million capital project.

The money is the first commitment of corporate support for the project which Gov. Lincoln Chaffee has included in his proposed state budget. It will be contingent on the approval of a bond referendum ballot that Rhode Island voters will consider in November.

The plan would enable URI to replace five existing buildings used for engineering with a new 195,000-square-foot facility.

The new building would house engineering programs in biomedical, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, industrial and systems, and mechanical areas of study.

“I’m delighted by the long and productive partnership between Toray and the university, and I’m tremendously grateful for this generous pledge to the College of Engineering,” said URI President David Dooley, in a news release.

Toray has a history of helping URI’s College of Engineering. It has contributed nearly $2.3 million in gifts, supporting the Toray Plastics of America Inc. Engineering Fellowship and the Toray Plastics of America Inc. Scholarship for Undergraduates. During the current academic year, more than 26 students have received financial assistance from the two funds.

Toray President and CEO Richard Schloesser said that 100 employees, or 20 percent of its workers, are engineers, and the company expects the need to grow.

Toray was one two local plastics businesses supporting the URI project at a recent state hearing. Toray presented a letter of support, while Teknor Apex Co. of Pawtucket testified in favor of the bond offering.

URI has awarded engineering degrees since 1893. It currently has 1,316 undergraduate and 231 graduate students taking part enrolled in the various engineering programs. It is anticipating a projected 18 percent rise in student enrollment.

Toray manufactures polyester, polypropylene, bio-based, and metalized films for flexible and rigid packaging, lidding, graphic, industrial, optical and electronic applications. It is based in North Kingston, R.I.