presidential search

  • Listening Tour

    Over several weeks in the spring of 2014, RISD Board of Trustees Chair Michael Spalter met with various members of the RISD community on behalf of the Board. As part of this “listening tour,” he met and spoke with the faculty, the Museum Board of Governors, the Undergraduate and Graduate Student Alliance groups, the Staff Council, the Alumni Council, the Parents’ Council, the Part-Time Faculty Association and the Faculty Steering Committee, as a means of soliciting thoughts from the RISD community about both the search process itself and the qualities individuals would like to see in RISD's next president. To support and further those discussions, the Staff, Alumni and Parents’ Councils also surveyed their broader membership to elicit similar input.

    The key themes that emerged from these efforts were quite consistent across the various groups, including:

    • * Most fundamentally, RISD’s next president must have a solid record of administrative experience – far preferably, though not absolutely necessarily, “up through the ranks” – and proven administrative abilities.

    • * The next president need not be a practicing artist or designer – or even come from an art and design school (though both would be preferable) – but must have deep knowledge of and passion for art and design. The next president also need not necessarily have been an educator (though that would also be strongly preferable), but must have a clear understanding of, a strong commitment to and the ability to advocate for the value of art and design education, especially as it is practiced at RISD.

    • * He or she must understand the role of the president to be a facilitator – but not the creator or driver of – the academic program, which is widely recognized to be the core and primary reason for RISD’s preeminence.

    • * To that end the next president also must have the ability and commitment to elevate RISD's fundraising in a transformative way. There is widespread recognition among all constituents that in order to nurture and advance the institution fundraising is a top priority.

    • * The next president must have excellent listening and communication skills both one-on-one and on the global stage. He or she must get to know RISD before making any major changes but also must be encouraged to lead RISD in new directions. The ideal person will have the ability to inspire us to move in those directions together as one community both in Rhode Island and around the world.

    • * The next president must live in Providence, but engage globally, advancing RISD both with our cherished students, faculty, staff and local community here in Rhode Island and with our alumni and parents, the media, thought leaders and existing and potential benefactors around the world. 

    The results of this “listening tour” have informed and significantly influenced the Board’s work to structure the search process and search committee and will continue to do so as the search moves forward. The Board is grateful to the community for participating so actively and substantively, and it remains committed to the principles of transparency of process, inclusivity and open communication throughout the search process.