RISD Announces New President

Feb 27 2015 - 9:19am

"Art schools are lively places… where the new is manifest every day, where paradigms are continually stretched and challenged, and where shock and beauty flourish side by side." —Rosanne Somerson

The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) didn’t have to go far to find its 17th president. The school’s Board of Trustees has appointed Rosanne Somerson to the post, after serving as interim president for a year,

“Her experiences as a RISD student, alumna, faculty member, department head, provost and interim president provide a depth of knowledge and almost instinctive understanding of the institution that no other candidate could match,” says RISD Board of Trustees Chair Michael Spalter. “She has also shown the collaborative leadership style and informed vision RISD needs to expand its role in advancing global innovation in the 21st century.”

During a nine-month search process, a board-appointed search committee worked with a search firm and eight special advisory groups to review more than 100 candidates from around the world.

The committee lauded Somerson for guiding RISD with confidence; focusing on maximizing the efficacy of current operations; planning for emerging challenges and opportunities for higher education; championing the continuing work on a campus master plan; advancing academic programs and leading targeted fundraising efforts.

"I am honored to lead this institution, to build on its strong 138-year legacy and advance ambitious plans for facilities, programs and global partnerships,” says Somerson. “Our extraordinary community of faculty scholars and practitioners, students and alumni is making a positive impact in the world every day. I know firsthand the value of an art and design education, and am confident that RISD’s model of immersive, studio-based learning has greater global impact and is more important and vital than ever.”

The Huffington Post writes, "Her philosophy of 'iterative thinking for new and innovative outcomes' is about distilling theory, social issues and mental effort down into an idea. It's about bringing hands and minds and hearts together to create a dynamic result. It's about understanding traditional processes and new technologies. But at its heart, it's about problem-solving."

RISD, founded in 1877, is ranked at the top of Business Insider’s survey of The World’s 25 Best Design Schools. Its IDSA Student Chapter is advised by Associate Professor Beth Mosher, IDSA.