Matthew Shenoda Appointed as Inaugural Vice President of Social Equity and Inclusion at Rhode Island School of Design

June 5, 2018

The first person to assume this role at RISD, the new vice president is charged with realizing the president’s progressive, comprehensive vision for creating a more equitable and inclusive campus community

PROVIDENCE, RI - Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has appointed Matthew Shenoda as the college’s first-ever vice president of Social Equity and Inclusion. The result of a rigorous national search led by a committee of faculty, students and staff, his appointment is the most recent advance in RISD’s Social Equity and Inclusion Action Plan. Shenoda will assume the new position in August and in addition to his role as vice president, will have a faculty affiliation with RISD’s Literary Arts and Studies department.

“We are delighted to welcome Matthew to RISD,” said RISD President Rosanne Somerson. “He brings extensive experience and scholarship to this crucial work, as well as direct classroom experience. Matthew’s unique profile as a scholar, faculty member, poet, publisher and administrator will help him lead our comprehensive and progressive vision for equitable and inclusive advancement at RISD.”

Since assuming office in 2014, President Somerson has prioritized broader access to a RISD education and a commitment to building a more inclusive and diverse campus community. In fall 2017 she released a Social Equity and Inclusion (SEI) Action Plan with input from a task force of students, faculty, staff and alumni. The SEI Plan details transformational institutional change to achieve its ambitions.

Since the release of the plan, the RISD community has made significant achievements in this vital work. The college has committed $21.9 million to financial aid, the highest amount in its history. Also, the diversity of both the applicant and admitted student pools has increased for the coming academic year. To enrich programmatic offerings for all current students, the college has invited a broad range of guest speakers, artists and critics from historically under-represented groups, helped faculty to revise current curricula, funded new courses that expand curricular offerings and implemented significant training for administrators, staff and faculty. For more information on RISD’s SEI Plan, recent progress and planned next steps, visit

Shenoda, who comes to RISD with close to 20 years of experience as an expert in the study of diversity, equity and inclusion—both inside and outside the classroom—will help continue to advance the vision spelled out in the SEI Plan. Most recently, he was dean of Academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and special advisor to the president as well as professor of English and Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago, where he oversaw the enhancement of curriculum, curricular programming and faculty expertise to help infuse equitable and inclusive principles.

As special advisor to the president, Shenoda provided guidance on campus-wide initiatives and policies that examined and challenged structural barriers to diversity. Before that he served as the inaugural assistant provost for Equity and Diversity and a faculty member in the School of Critical Studies at CalArts and taught for nearly a decade at San Francisco State University in the first College of Ethnic Studies. He is also an award-winning writer, author and editor of several books and the founding editor of the African Poetry Book Fund, an organization that promotes and advances the development of contemporary African poetics.

About Rhode Island School of Design
Approximately 2,500 students from around the world are enrolled in full-time bachelor's or master's degree programs at RISD (pronounced "RIZ-dee"), where our immersive model of art and design education emphasizes robust liberal arts studies and conceptually driven studio-based learning within a choice of 19 majors. RISD's exceptional faculty foster student growth and development in extensive specialized facilities, enabling students to become confident, cross-disciplinary thinkers and nimble problem-solvers ready to confront the complexities of global practice in the 21st century. More than 27,000 alumni worldwide testify to the impact of a RISD education, exemplifying the vital role artists and designers play in defining global innovation. Founded in 1877, RISD and the RISD Museum help make Providence, RI among the most culturally active and creative cities in the region. For more information, visit and