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Alumni Provide Valuable Input re: RISD

The results of the first comprehensive survey in 25 years show that 97% of respondents are proud of RISD and most want to be more engaged with the college.

Alumni Provide Valuable Input re: RISD

Alumni returning to campus for reunion weekend respond to a question during a welcoming event in the RISD Museum.

After conducting the most comprehensive survey of alumni in 25 years, RISD has learned much about how its global community of creative practitioners and thought leaders wishes to network with each other and engage with the college.

Nearly 2,500 alumni of the approximately 26,000 contacted in August 2018 completed the survey, resulting in a 10% response rate (with a margin of error just under 2%).

Respondents were very thoughtful in sharing their perspectives on everything from the value of their RISD education, their experiences with the college since graduation and the ways they would like to stay connected. The research surfaced several overarching themes, including that alumni are proud of their RISD roots, very entrepreneurial in their approach to work and eager to become more engaged with RISD and each other.

Alumni artists and designers participate in RISD Craft, an outdoor juried sales exhibition in Providence.

“RISD is thankful that so many alumni shared their thoughts and perspectives with us,” says Christina Hartley 74 IL, executive director of Alumni Relations. “Our alumni are extraordinary and we are excited to build programs that respond to what alumni have shared to make our global community even stronger.”

Among the actionable items the survey identified is that while 61% of respondents rate their current engagement with RISD as low, 79% of these alumni want to become more involved.

With that in mind, Alumni Relations and other departments on campus are working to strengthen alumni engagement.

Alumni frequently return to campus to share their experiences with current students.

For instance, new programs are being created to support networking, volunteering and learning to ensure that alumni continue a meaningful relationship with RISD long after graduation. In the half year since survey results were tallied, the college has already taken positive steps to increase engagement. These include offering alumni:

RISD/Hong Kong club members volunteering in the community.

new clubs in Beijing, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Singapore
affinity groups centered on architecture, film and television, technology, entrepreneurship and Chinese professionals working—or hoping to work—in the United States
continuing education discounts of 20% on RISD Summer Studies courses and 10% on evening and weekend Continuing Education classes throughout the year
lifelong learning opportunities that focus on business skills and other areas of special interest

“These are just a few programs RISD has implemented in response to alumni feedback,” says O’Neil Outar, vice president of Institutional Engagement. With the development of RISD’s new strategic plan for 2020–27—which the Board of Trustees will vote on at its May meeting—“RISD is at an exciting moment in its history,” Outar continues. Deepening ties with alumni is vital to the success of the plan, he says, adding that they “are crucial partners who will help build RISD’s future.”

For more information about alumni programs, contact alumni@risd.edu or call toll free: 844 454-1877.

(Re)connecting at the Design Portfolio Review

At an annual event hosted by RISD Careers, hundreds of students gain invaluable insights from a range of professionals—including alumni eager to advise emerging designers.

Drawn from Nature’s Lab

Designers Rachel Doriss 99 TX and Molly Haynes 14 TX create a new textiles collection for Pollack inspired by RISD’s Nature Lab.

Breaking Glass Boundaries

Pioneering glass artist Therman Statom 74 SC returns to RISD to speak with students about the value of building community.