On Oct. 16, the University of Rhode Island celebrated a dedication ceremony for the naming of the pharmacy building, now known as the Paramaz Avedisian ’54 Hall.

In the past two years, there have been only two buildings named after a donation to the University. The Richard E. Beaupre Center for Chemical and Forensic Sciences launched in 2016 and was named with the opening of the building. The second building to be named is the Paramaz Avedisian ’54 Hall, which was named five years after the building’s construction was completed.

Paramaz Avedisian was an alumnus of URI’s College of Pharmacy. The naming of the building was a gift from his brother, Edward Avedisian, who was a musician, scholar, philanthropist and the 2016 recipient of an Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Ed Avedisian’s gift of $5 million will go toward a new Paramaz Avedisian ’54 Endowed Chair in medicinal organic chemistry, as well as education and innovation in science.

Paramaz nearly dropped out of college due to his father’s death but his boss and former owner of Simpson’s Pharmacy in Pawtucket, Rhode Island helped pay for the rest of his tuition to help him finish his education. Paramaz paid this opportunity forward by tutoring a deaf person and financially helping patients through his own pharmacy. Through this, his brother Ed believed that his late brother was worthy of being remembered.


The buildings consist of 144,000 square-feet of learning space that stretches over the span of five floors. It is the home of about 1,000 pharmacy students ranging from undergraduate to the Pharm.D. program. At the naming ceremony, the building did not have the signs displaying the donor’s name, but it’s the first thing students and visitors now see as they enter the building.

The process that goes into naming a building varies from donor to donor. The University’s major gifts officer has relationships with alumni and friends, and those connections sometimes donate gifts to the university. The University might have needs and the donor might have certain things in mind, such as supporting an academic department based on interests. There is no set amount of time for the process from start to finish. The University received legislative approval for the building this past summer and held its ceremony in the fall. The length of the process depends on court dates in order to pass

“It’s a very unique situation for every donor,” said Tracey Manni, URI Foundation Director of Communications. “It depends on the impact.”

Manni said the process starts at a certain conversational level and can take many years. “It’s a very organic process and can take any length of time,” she said.

The following information was provided by the URI Foundation from the general assembly representative: The process of naming the pharmacy building began on April 26, 2017, when the university presented its legislative request to the Council on Postsecondary Education. It was then introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives on May 10 and May 11. On May 19, the bill was scheduled for a hearing and consideration. There were two public hearings held and a representative from the University including alumni testified in support of the naming at both hearings. Both bills were passed on June 27 and June 28, and Governor Gina Raimondo signed the bills into law on June 29.

During the naming ceremony, Dean E. Paul Larrat, Ph.D. of the College of Pharmacy spoke highly of Paramaz Avedisian.

“I think Paramaz was a living example of a trustworthy professional,” Dean Larrat said. “I know he served as a role model for many students and many professionals in his day.