Lily Haseotes Bentas Center dedication honors service, generosity of Cumberland Farms executive
NEWPORT, R.I. (Sept. 14, 2016) – A newly constructed 23,000-square-foot academic wing on Salve Regina’s seaside campus will be named in honor of Cumberland Farms Chairman of the Board Lily Haseotes Bentas for her longtime friendship and service to the university.
The Lily Haseotes Bentas Center will be officially dedicated during a ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 4 p.m. United States senators from Rhode Island, Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, will offer remarks, along with members of the Haseotes family and representatives from the Salve Regina community.
The Bentas Center is connected to the 67,000-square-foot reconstructed O’Hare Academic Building, Ochre Point Avenue, sharing a large university commons area overlooking Newport’s Cliff Walk and the Atlantic Ocean. The Center will house the Department of Business Studies and Economics, along with its business outreach program, the Rodgers Family Department of Nursing, student common areas, classrooms, conference areas and faculty offices.
“Lily Bentas’s support of Salve Regina extends far beyond the board room, proving that the values of family, friendship, community and corporate responsibility truly make a difference in this world,” said Salve Regina President Jane Gerety, RSM. “Lily has contributed greatly to the excellence of Salve Regina through her generosity of time, experience and resources. We will be forever grateful for her longtime friendship and support.”
A university trustee since 2007, Bentas’s leadership and generosity have helped advance the university mission in far-reaching ways. Her support over the years helped the university to build Our Lady of Mercy Chapel, to establish the Antone Academic Center and to raise scholarship funds for students. Her generosity also supported the establishment of the Nuala Pell Leadership Program in Public Service, which prepares future generations of leaders through specialized training. She established the Lily Haseotes Bentas Scholarship in Business Studies, which is awarded to a female undergraduate who aspires to a career in business and who demonstrates a commitment to building community through ethical practice.
“I have learned that one of the most important things you have in life is your reputation,” she told graduates as Salve Regina’s commencement speaker in 2006, during which she received an honorary doctorate in business administration. “You have only one reputation. Please don’t compromise it. Business, as life, has many ups and downs, good times and bad times. If your associates trust and respect you, they will be with you when the going gets tough, as well as in the good times.”
Bentas attended Cumberland High School, graduating in the same class as Salve Regina’s chancellor and former president, M. Therese Antone, RSM. “This is a joyous occasion for me, particularly as I reflect on my decades-long friendship with Lily and the relationship between my family and the Haseotes family that reaches back to our days in Cumberland," Sister Therese said. "Having the Lily Haseotes Bentas name grace our new Center in the academic heart of Salve Regina’s campus is most fitting and fills me with pride.”
Bentas is the daughter of Vasilios and Aphrodite Haseotes, who started the company as a single-cow farm in Cumberland, R.I. in 1939. Opening the first-ever convenience store in the northeast in 1957, Cumberland Farms has since grown into a multi-billion-dollar corporation that employs 8,000 people. Today it operates 600 retail convenience stores with gasoline in eight states throughout the northeast and Florida.
“An inspiration and role model for all business people, most especially aspiring young, professional women, Lily has been my most trusted business partner and mentor in addition to being my beloved aunt,” said Ari Haseotes, Cumberland Farms president and CEO. “Lily is the picture of humility and grace. Never forgetting the humble roots from which our family has come and always remembering that our success as a family in business is most heavily attributed to the many thousands whom we call members of our team and a commitment to continuously investing in our people and our business over the long term.”
Cumberland Farms was ranked by Forbes in 2016 as the 18th largest privately held company in the U.S. with annual sales of over $16.5 billion.
Still family-owned and operated, the company prides itself on a long heritage of giving back to the communities they serve, establishing programs to feed the hungry, serve the disabled, support local sports teams and raise funds for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, among others. Over the years, the company’s “Believe and Achieve Scholarship” program has awarded more than $1 million to more than 1,000 talented high school seniors with aspirations to attend college.
“I look forward to attending the dedication and recognizing the many valuable contributions Lily Haseotes Bentas has made to the university and the community,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed.
Bentas, who has served in a variety of leadership positions at Cumberland Farms for 40 years, is a former member of the board of directors for the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), Washington, D.C., and served for many years on the Boards of Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts and the National 4H Council. She is also a member of “Leadership 100” of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America.