RISD’s journey in diversity began through the visionary women who founded it in 1877. Since then, diversity has been a constant reality of the RISD experience. Eliza Greene Metcalf Radeke led the college as its first female president from 1917 to 1931. Award winning architect, Frances Henley was RISD’s first female graduate from the Architecture program in the class of ’97 (1897!). Of Narragansett & African heritage, alumna Nancy Elizabeth Prophet (class of 1918) was RISD’s first graduate of color. Prophet was an internationally known sculptor credited for “giving visual expression to the Negro Spirit as well as the Negro form” by contemporaries such as W.E.B. DuBois, Augusta Savage and Sargent Johnson.

Today, RISD is a community committed to understanding, valuing and making meaning of the total human experience. Differences of ability, age, belief systems, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender expression / identity, nationality, race, sexual orientation and socio economic status are rich opportunities that inform curricular and co-curricular experiences. Because inspiration isn’t limited to the RISD campus, Providence’s rich neighborhoods and communities afford a host of artistic and cultural possibilities.


RISDiversity thumbnail

Each of us has a story to tell. The RISDiversity: Community Narratives Project gives students, faculty and staff the opportunity to inspire others through their stories. 

The Providence River and cityscape as seen from the southern edge of campus, behind the Industrial Design and
Architecture buildings.