Dr. Ballard, courtesy of URIDr. Robert Ballard and Dr. James Austin, Jr., long-time friends since their early days as young oceanographers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, recently made a combined gift commitment of $100,000 to the University of Rhode Island (URI) as a challenge to spur other donors.

The goal is an additional $300,000 to support a fellowship endowment attached to the Graduate School of Oceanography’s (GSO) academic program, the Center for Ocean Exploration and Archaeological Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay campus.

Specifically, Ballard/Austin will match every donor contribution to this fund on a 3 to 1 basis. That is, for every $3 in new donor gifts, $1 from Ballard/Austin will be leveraged as a match, increasing the value of the new donor gift by approximately 33 percent.

The challenge deadline is Dec. 31, 2010.

For details, call Dr. Eugene Lyman, GSO associate dean for development, (401) 874-6131; elyman@foundation.uri.edu.