Interim President Dave Proulx
Nov 2021

Stewarding a Great Institution

It is an honor to help guide RISD while it searches for a new president and continues to make impressive progress on many fronts.

RISD is thriving through the unpredictability of the pandemic. It is wonderful to see more students back on campus this fall and enjoying the collaborative hands-on education that defines RISD. While the vaccines have allowed the campus community to return closer to normal, we continue to remain vigilant and responsive to changing conditions. But the uncertainty has not slowed our stride, with record fundraising and growth in Continuing Education enrollments adding to an accelerating pace.

This summer, we welcomed 22 students to campus in August for our inaugural RISD First-Generation to College Pre-Orientation Program. While on campus for the free two-week summer program, students worked with faculty and peer mentors to expand their artistic and academic skills, learn more about RISD’s culture of critique and on-campus resources, and build a sense of community before classes began.

We continue to invest in making RISD more accessible to students with financial need, and this issue shares the stories of a number of generous donors who have established new scholarships and fellowships. With the support of our community, RISD has increased financial aid by 23% over two years, and this year we are providing more financial support to students than at any other point in our history.

The Society of Presidential Fellows, launched in 2019 to strengthen RISD’s competitiveness in recruiting and retaining its most sought-after graduate students, continues to grow. In addition to providing full-tuition support for the duration of a student’s studies, the program aims to provide career-enhancing opportunities to connect with RISD alumni mentors.

Recruited for their expertise about issues of race in art and design, a number of faculty joined RISD this fall as part of the cluster hire initiative launched this year. Please turn to page 22 to read more about this extraordinary group of artists, designers and scholars who will help lead efforts to broaden RISD’s curriculum and make it more inclusive.

RISD is moving forward with significant improvements to campus. This summer, we completed the multiyear quad block enhancement with renovations to Homer Hall and South Hall. Built in 1957, Homer Hall required repairs to its structure and original slate roof. Renovations of both residence halls included a number of energy efficiency upgrades to advance RISD’s sustainability goals, as well as new shared spaces for socializing and making. And thanks to an anonymous $4 million gift that will jump-start the project, RISD will begin work on the Metcalf Building this spring. This core facility for teaching art and design is home to Ceramics, Furniture Design, Glass, Jewelry + Metalsmithing, Sculpture and Textiles—nearly a third of RISD’s academic departments.

Sustainability is a key principle of RISD’s Campus Master Plan, but it is also an important academic focus. We have launched a search for the Houghton P. Metcalf Professorship in Sustainability, which was established through a donation from the Metcalf family. RISD is now recruiting an academic leader to develop institution-wide initiatives in sustainability. This effort was given a boost recently by Sarah Sharpe 94 GD, whose generosity is establishing the Rosanne Somerson Sustainability Innovation Fund. It will offer grants to faculty and/or students for projects that advance sustainability, with a preference for projects that include an external community partner.

Thank you for your unwavering support of RISD and its students.

Dave Proulx
Interim President