Rhode Island School of Design to Install Alumna Rosanne Somerson as the College’s 17th President on October 9, 2015
Inauguration celebration includes ceremony at Roger Williams National Memorial, art exhibitions across campus, outdoor afterparty, free admission to the RISD Museum and more
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) will hold a formal ceremony to inaugurate
Rosanne Somerson [RISD BFA ’76] as the college’s 17th
president on Friday, October 9, 2015 at 2 pm EST at Roger Williams National
Memorial, 282 North Main Street, Providence, RI.
The first alumna to lead the country’s premier college of art and design, Somerson is an accomplished designer, educator and administrator with deep
roots at RISD. She was named president by RISD’s Board of Trustees on February 18, 2015 following an extensive global search during which she served as interim president for 14 months.
The official investiture ceremony, which takes place under a tent at the historic national park just north of campus, is open to the public. Featured speakers include MacArthur
Award-winning artists Kara Walker
[RISD MFA ’94] and Janine Antoni
[RISD MFA ’89]; acclaimed designer and RISD Trustee Nicole Miller [RISD ’73]; Tate Modern Director and RISD parent Chris Dercon; RI Governor Gina
Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse; and Brown University President Christina Paxson.
An outdoor afterparty
will follow at 4 pm, featuring artwork and performances throughout the central campus.
celebration of President Somerson’s inauguration, the RISD Museum is offering
free admission from October 6 through October 11 and will remain open until 6
pm the day of the ceremony.
The inauguration celebration is the cornerstone of RISD by Design 2015, an annual three-day gathering that brings alumni
and parents to campus. Highlights of the weekend include a keynote address by studio
artist Adam Silverman [RISD BArch ’88] of Heath Ceramics in Los Angeles; a talk
by James Carpenter [RISD BFA ’72]; RISD
Craft, a juried
sales exhibition of alumni and student work on Benefit Street; the dedication
of the newly-renovated Illustration Studies Building; hands-on workshops and
demonstrations; open studios; and more.
“Given the growing global embrace of the role of
artists and designers in the 21st century, President Somerson offers a beacon
of inspiration to young talent worldwide,” notes Board of Trustees Chair
Michael Spalter. “As the first alumna to serve as president, she embodies the
spirit and essence of our community. President Somerson leads with a depth
of knowledge and an instinctive understanding of RISD that will enable her to
forge a path forward into uncharted territory with vision, grace, humility and integrity.”
stepping in as interim president in January 2014, Somerson has worked to enhance academic excellence by focusing on integrated planning
and creating more efficient and sustainable operating models that make better
use of resources and allow for historically low tuition increases. Her
fundraising efforts support increased access through scholarships, innovation
in teaching through program and faculty development, and facilities enhancements
and advances that further RISD’s immersive, hands-on learning model.
“I am honored to be RISD’s 17th president,
charged with leading this historic institution into the future, building on its
storied legacy and advancing ambitious plans for programs, facilities, and
global partnerships,” remarks President Somerson. “As a RISD alumna, I know the
value of an art and design education and I am confident that RISD’s model of
immersive, studio-based learning is more vital now than ever. As president,
I will encourage our extraordinary community of faculty scholars and
practitioners to help prepare our students to work with the tools, materials
and opportunities of the future.”
Details about the inauguration, along with an overview of President
Somerson’s career, are available at president.risd.edu.The ceremony will be available
online after the event. Everyone
is invited to join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #RISDInauguration.
About President Somerson
Rosanne Somerson earned a BFA from RISD in 1976. After returning to RISD in 1985 as a faculty member, she taught furniture and industrial design for a decade before helping to establish the college’s Furniture Design department in 1995, which she led for the next 16 years. Somerson served as interim associate provost from 2005–07 and as interim provost during the 2011–12 academic year, before being named provost after an international search. In addition to her academic roles at RISD, she has maintained her own furniture design practice since 1979. Her award-winning work has been exhibited at galleries and museums around the world and is included in many private, corporate and museum collections, notably at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Smith College Museum of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery and many others. Somerson has lectured extensively throughout the world, received numerous grants, awards and citations, and has consulted on creative practice in industry and higher education.
About Rhode Island School of Design
Known as the leading
college of art and design in the United States, Rhode Island School of
Design (RISD) is ranked #1 in Business Insider’s survey of The World’s
25 Best Design Schools. Approximately 2,450 students from around the
world are enrolled in full-time bachelor’s or master’s degree programs
in a choice of 19 majors. Students value RISD’s accomplished faculty of
artists and designers, the breadth of its specialized facilities and its
hands-on approach to studio-based learning. Required courses in the
liberal arts enrich the studio experience, equipping graduates to make
meaningful contributions to their communities. Through their creative
thinking and problem solving in a broad range of fields, RISD’s 26,000
alumni exemplify the vital role artists and designers play in fueling
global innovation. Founded in 1877, RISD (pronounced “RIZ-dee”) and the
RISD Museum help make Providence, RI among the most culturally active
and creative cities in the region. For more information, visit risd.edu