Highlights include: Increased diverse faculty and staff hiring. Launched the “Race in Art & Design” faculty cluster hire initiative. Established formal Board of Trustees committee focused on social equity and inclusion. Finalized a land acknowledgement for institution-wide use.
Year in summary
- Of the $24.7 million donated in 2019–20—RISD’s most ever at the time—$15.8 million was directed to student financial aid. Among other things, this aided our continued support of:
- RISD Promise, which ensures that undergrad recipients of financial aid are awarded in full throughout their studies.
- the Student Success Program, which provides all high-need students a total of $9,000 in support of academic success and professional development.
- the Society of Presidential Fellows program, which grants full tuition and professional development opportunities to selected graduate students for the duration of their studies.
- Per commitments announced in July 2020, Human Resources implemented more open, transparent job search and hiring processes in order to increase diverse hires. As of May 2021, 40% of new employee hires (47% staff, 35% faculty) were diverse, an increase of about 10% from the prior year.
- The Center for Social Equity and Inclusion (SEI)
- supported student leadership programming through its oversight of the Office of Intercultural Student Engagement.
- hired eight student workers to serve as SEI advocates in a variety of roles, including research, community outreach, marketing and media and special projects.
- Among many decolonial and anti-racist initiatives, the RISD Museum committed 75% of its annual acquisition budget to acquiring works that increase representation of BIPOC artists and cultures, diversified its staff, and developed a land acknowledgement and shared it across the community.
- The Teaching and Learning Lab hosted workshops and seminars on social equity and inclusion-related topics, such as multilingual learning, inclusive syllabi and decolonial pedagogy. More than 200 faculty, librarians, curators and fellow staff members attended these events.
- The Social Equity and Inclusion Faculty Committee advances several initiatives, with particular focus on
- oversight of the Race in Art & Design cluster hire initiative.
- establishing a rubric for tagging courses related to social equity and inclusion.
- beginning development of an academic concentration focused on race and decoloniality.
- The Department of Public Safety (DPS)
- suspended its Peace Officer initiative and redirected funds toward training in SEI-related competencies.
- completed at least 12 hours of training per DPS officer in the areas of bias-based policing, prejudice, bias and hate crime, and LGBTQ+ cultural competency.
- re-certified all DPS staff in mental health first aid through training programs that are now part of an annual training cycle.
- engaged Margolis Healy and Associates, a consultancy with expertise in higher education public safety, to help align its mission and role, orientation and strategy, operations, policies and practices with RISD’s SEI goals.
- Admissions launched an annual series of application preparation webinars to assist prospective RISD students who need support or guidance in navigating the application process. The Admissions team also continued to grow the portfolio preparation webinars they launched in spring 2020. These webinars help bring transparency to how we evaluate visual work submitted by prospective students.
- RISD launched a search for 10 new full-time faculty members with expertise in the areas of race, colonization, post-coloniality, cultural representation and material practices of resistance. The Race in Art & Design cluster hire initiative was made possible by an anonymous gift that is one of the largest in our history.
- In October the RISD Museum deaccessioned the bronze sculpture Head of a King (Oba), toward its repatriation to the Nigerian National Collections in October 2022.
- To help increase the accessibility of a RISD education, Admissions began offering Talk Shop, a program through which prospective applicants meet 1:1 with an admissions officer and receive individualized guidance on a range of application topics, including the college essay, curating their portfolio and more.
- The RISD Museum appointed Kajette Solomon to the role of Social Equity and Inclusion program specialist, the museum’s first. It also hired Sháńdíín Brown to serve as Henry Luce Curatorial Fellow for Native American Art and appointed Ahmari Benton to the role of Nancy Prophet Fellow. Their contributions include the development of programming and acquisition of works that advance a proactively anti-racist mission.
- The museum also launched the Americas Research Initiative, a partnered research program that supports the multi-year study of areas of its collection that have received insufficient attention, with a particular focus on Meso-American, Native American, and First Nations art and design.
- The Center for SEI established the SEI Research and Teaching Fellows, a program that invites scholars, artists and designers to teach courses across RISD’s curriculum and conduct research in their field that advances issues of social equity and inclusion. The center also established the SEI Research Fund to support faculty research related to social equity and inclusion.
- RISD establishes a centralized Office of Institutional Discrimination and Title IX (now Equity & Compliance) to give community members resources and support around all issues of bias and discrimination.
- RISD Media (now Marketing & Communications), with input from many colleagues across campus, created an inclusive language guide (login required) that provides direction for communicating about identity and diversity using language that is respectful, aware and anti-discriminatory.
- In February, Human Resources implemented a new policy allowing eligible employees up to nine weeks of paid leave upon welcoming a newly born infant, adopted minor or fostered child into their family.
- Institutional Advancement launched the Black Alumni and Black Architects alumni affinity groups.
- Institutional Advancement launched the RISD Queer Alumni affinity group.
- The Board of Trustees established a formal committee focused on social equity and inclusion.
- RISD finalized a land acknowledgment for institution-wide use as a first step toward honoring the Indigenous peoples who originally occupied College Hill.
- Under the guidance of and in consultation with social justice education expert Marta Esquilin, all members of the president’s cabinet conducted intensive assessments of their areas of oversight to help lead SEI advancement in their division.
- Responding to a demand from risdARC and in consultation with Aya Alghanmeh 21 IL, Felicita Devlin 21 TX, Jaleel Porcha 21 PH and Joshua Coverdale 22 FAV, the Center for SEI, RISD Archives and RISD Marketing & Communications worked to digitize and present materials that originated from students, employees and the institutional record. The RISD Activism page on this site chronicles the history of student activism, including recent Black- and BIPOC-led movements, through the presentation of archival materials. We also established a dedicated graduate assistantship to help evolve this digital archive.
- Under the training leadership of Chimi Boyd-Keyes, we established a “train the trainer” program that prepared 25 staff members across campus to guide conversations centered on social equity and inclusion issues. Participants learned to use videos, short essays, articles, podcasts and other resources to provide a framework for facilitating dialogue.
- Juneteenth (June 19)—which commemorates the end of slavery in the US—was formally incorporated as a holiday on RISD’s academic and administrative calendar.
- The Center for Social Equity and Inclusion (SEI) launched the First Generation to College Pre-Orientation Program, a two-week intensive for incoming first-generation undergraduate students. The program helps to expand students’ artistic and academic skills while supporting their social, and cocurricular transition to Experimental and Foundation Studies.
Faculty, curators and librarians come together for a semester-long seminar on decolonization that builds on the institution’s commitment to advancing social equity and inclusion.
New RISD First-Generation to College Pre-Orientation Program will offer a multifaceted experience for incoming students.
Since August 2019 RISD has raised $15 million to fund a new program that recruits and supports outstanding graduate students.