About Crystal Williams
As our 18th president, Crystal Williams leads RISD in advancing and amplifying the power of art and design in a changing world, and fostering a campus and community that centers equity and inclusion in all we are and do.
A forward-looking dream
“We are galvanized to create art and design spaces, classrooms, and practices that reflect the full breadth of human dynamism and a belief that what makes us distinct from one another is precisely our strength.”
— from President Williams’ October 7, 2022 inauguration address
A vision for teaching and learning
Informing President Williams’ work and leadership is her belief in RISD’s responsibility to amplify the talents of our students, and respond to their needs.
Sep 28, 2023
Campus update: RISD + Terra Carta Design Lab
RISD’s 146th academic year is upon us, and I am excited to welcome the class of 2027, our returning community members, and RISD’s new staff, faculty, and senior leaders to our community!
Over the past few weeks, campus has been a cacophony of back-to-school activity—Resident Assistants zipping around campus preparing for returning students, residence hall move-ins, studio set-ups, supply shopping, Providence exploring—and hopefully some friend-making, too. It is exciting to witness the joy, passion and enthusiasm displayed by RISD students, staff and faculty as we prepare for classes and studios to begin.
Our community members hail from 60 countries across the globe and represent an extraordinary range of diversity of identities, backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints. As I’ve said before, I believe that our differences stimulate deeper and more complex thinking, learning, and creativity. Embracing our differences and willingly engaging each other with grace and empathy—even when it is difficult or uncomfortable—supports our ongoing work of building the kind of institution of which we are proud to be a part. Through our collective efforts, I hope we can begin to manifest a reality where RISD is a place where all of us feel we have the opportunity to thrive.
Toward that end, I look forward to making progress this semester on several key community and culture initiatives:
- The Community and Culture Survey will launch later this month. I hope you will candidly share your experiences and suggestions to improve our campus culture.
- The Holistic Student Wellness Initiative will commence in earnest as we nominate two student leaders to serve on the committee. This work will center RISD’s students’ whole-person experience and make recommendations to ensure that our work and institution is optimally designed and focused on ensuring that all students can thrive.
- The Financial Optimization Initiative will continue identifying inefficiencies and opportunities to strengthen our institution’s long-term sustainability by making recommendations for maximizing our limited resources.
To stay informed of these initiatives and other campus news and updates, I encourage you to read monthly newsletters from my office (News & Notes) and others. Stay connected by following our social media channels (such as @risd1877 on Instagram) and my Instagram, where I have a lot of fun sharing some of my adventures around campus and out in the world, especially when I’m meeting and visiting with RISD alumni, parents, and friends!
I wish you a joy-filled and purposeful start to the year. I look forward to running into you around campus.
Crystal Williams (she/her)
Sep 20, 2023
Announcing our VP of student life and engagement
I am pleased to announce that we have completed the search for RISD’s vice president of student life and engagement. Ray Quirolgico, EdD, currently ArtCenter College of Design’s associate provost for student affairs and dean of students, will join our community on November 1. In this newly created role, Ray will oversee our Student Affairs division and be charged with leading a vibrant student life program.
With this role established, Student Affairs now reports to Provost Touba Ghadessi, and the Registrar’s Office reports to Vice President of Enrollment Management Jamie O’Hara. This change in reporting structures, which went into effect on September 1, intends to provide a more holistic approach to our students’ learning experience, ensuring that their personal well-being and academic career inform each other effectively.
It became immediately clear throughout the interview process that Ray’s leadership is grounded in a student-centered approach that makes his decision making process both collaborative and proactive. His vast knowledge of the current higher education landscape will bring additional perspective to RISD, and I am delighted to witness how he will encourage an ethic of care to address the layered complexities that define our students’ varied experiences.
Ray has served as the associate provost for student affairs and dean of students at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, CA since 2014 and previously held administrative roles at seven other US colleges and universities. He has experience in student housing and residence life, multicultural affairs, community service and civic engagement, orientation programs, student judicial affairs and campus health. He is responsible for supporting the co-curricular life of the institution by overseeing the college’s student affairs functions in the Center for the Student Experience, which includes such responsibilities as overseeing student conduct, services for students with disabilities, student health insurance, international student services, mental health counseling, student clubs and campus activities, new student orientation and student government.
In addition to his work with ArtCenter, Ray has held adjunct faculty appointments at four universities, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in leadership, organizational development, research methods, education, student development theory and applied ethics. He has presented his work at over 50 national and international conferences and published in multiple academic journals. Ray earned undergraduate degrees in biology and psychology from the University of Virginia, a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs administration from the University of Vermont and an EdD in organization and leadership from the University of San Francisco.
Until Ray’s arrival on November 1, we are lucky to have strong leaders in place to oversee our Student Affairs division. Dave Milstone, our current interim associate vice president of student affairs, will be with us through the end of the month. I would like to extend my deep appreciation to Dave for his dedicated leadership over this past year. From October 1 until October 31, Sara Rothenberger, our associate dean of students, will lead the division, and I thank her for stepping into this important role. I would also like to thank the below listed search committee members and members of our community who participated in interviews during our search.
Please join me in welcoming Ray to RISD!
Crystal Williams (she/her)
Search Committee Members
Touba Ghadessi – Co-Chair; Provost
James O’Hara – Co-Chair; Vice President, Enrollment Management
David T. Carreon Bradley – Vice President, Social Equity and Inclusion
John Caserta – Dean, Architecture & Design
Brandon Ice – Director of Operations, Student Affairs
Bethany Jankunis – Vice President, Strategy and Planning and Senior Advisor to the President
Linda Muller – Senior Academic Specialist, Ceramics, Glass and Jewelry + Metalsmithing
Suzanne Scanlan – Assistant Professor, Theory and History of Art and Design
Joanne Stryker – Dean of Experimental and Foundation Studies
Nelly Torres – Office Assistant, Student Affairs
Sep 19, 2023
Now live: Community and Culture survey
Dear RISD community member,
Last winter we launched our campus-wide climate assessment to enable us to assess how all members of our community experience the current campus climate. Today we are launching the most critical input into this initiative: the Community and Culture survey.
Through this 20-30 minute survey, you can help us assess what aspects of living, working and learning at RISD are going well and the areas in which we can improve. Consider this a chance to share your personal experiences and observations, and to offer suggestions for meaningful changes that can make RISD a place where everyone can thrive. In addition, after you complete the survey, you will have an opportunity to enter to win over 70 prizes, including gift cards, RISD Bucks, and experiences like a movie night at Providence Place for you and friends or a one-hour video chat with noted RISD alumni trustees, including Ilene Chaiken, Joe Gebbia, David Lee and Nicole Miller, among other incentives.
Please know that your survey responses will remain confidential, and the results will be reported in group form only. You will not be identifiable as an individual, and your participation in this project is voluntary. More information about this research, which has been reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board, an administrative committee that provides ethical and regulatory oversight of research that involves human subjects and protects the rights, safety and welfare of the people involved in such projects, is available on risd.edu.
Take the survey now
Thank you in advance for your contribution to this vital project.
Crystal Williams (she/her)