Building Momentum Together
A powerful part of a Rhode Island School of Design education is the opportunity students have to develop within and with the support of a highly creative community. From collaborating with peers and faculty to finding a place in the lineage of RISD artists and designers, our students are part of an expansive but closely knit community.
This year, the alumni community in particular came together to support our students through increased financial aid, novel and expanded career development opportunities and by returning to campus in record numbers, most recently for the inauguration of Crystal Williams as RISD’s 18th president. The weekend marked an opportunity for us to reflect on our storied 146-year history and to begin a conversation about what we want RISD to look like under the Williams presidency and beyond. As hard as it may be to imagine, we will celebrate our sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) in approximately 50 months!
Earlier in the year, we enjoyed record attendance at Commencement + Reunion Weekend, with nearly 1,400 coming to campus for the commencement ceremonies for the Classes of 2022 and 2020. That included 769 alumni who graduated between 1960 and 2021 and reunited over the weekend.
The enthusiasm that brings people back to RISD is also reflected in the marked growth in volunteerism we have seen. More alumni, families and friends than ever are participating in volunteer programs; currently 2,904 volunteers work with us regularly. The Tech Trek program covered in this issue was made possible by the efforts of nearly three dozen RISD alumni who shared their time and expertise so current RISD students could better understand how art and design skills transfer into the tech sphere. Alumni and friends established eight new scholarships and fellowships in 2022, including the Betty Jean Stroh 55 LA Scholarship and the Rafael de Cárdenas (96 AP) Scholarship, which we learn in this magazine was inspired by the desire to extend opportunities and help students bring their unique vision to life.
The Jerome Zimmerman (MFA 65 SC) and Salli Zimmerman (65 AE) Fellowship, founded as a way to honor the life and work of Jerome (MFA 65 SC), is one of three new Presidential Fellowships, including the LoveFrom, Presidential Fellowship and the Maxwell/Hanrahan Presidential Fellowship, that fully fund graduate students’ tuition. Investment in scholarships, fellowships and other student learning and development opportunities—like those supported by RISD Limited Editions—speaks to the value we all place on making RISD an accessible, equitable place where students are supported in their creative pursuits.
All of this is possible because of all of you. Your commitment to RISD propels us forward, and creates a future where the most talented critical makers help fashion a new and better world. Thank you!
VICE PRESIDENT OF INSTITUTIONAL ADVANCEMENT