Steven J. McDonald has served as RISD's general counsel since 2002. As the college's primary legal counsel, he provides legal services to trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, student leaders and affiliated entities in connection with their activities on behalf of the institution.
In the decade before coming to RISD, McDonald served as associate legal counsel at The Ohio State University and has taught at Ohio State's College of Law and at Capital University Law School. He began his legal career at Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, where he successfully represented CompuServe in Cubby v. CompuServe, the first online libel case.
An active participant in the higher education legal community, McDonald is a past member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA), the editor of the NACUA publication The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act: A Legal Compendium, a founder of its NACUANOTES legal information service and a regular leader or member of its committees.
McDonald also presents and writes frequently on issues of higher education law. He has spoken at ACE, AGB, CUPA-HR, EDUCAUSE, IAPP, NACUA, NACUBO, NASAD, NASPA, URMIA and United Educators, among other programs, as well as at the Stetson, University of Vermont and Valencia higher education legal issues conferences. In addition, his articles have appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education and other publications. At RISD, he often lectures on intellectual property law and artistic freedom.
McDonald holds an AB in political science from Duke University and a JD from the Yale Law School. In 2007 NACUA named him a Fellow in recognition of his "extensive scholarship in higher education law over an extended period of time."