Elisabeth Harrison

News Director

Elisabeth Harrison's journalism background includes everything from behind-the-scenes work with the CBS Evening News to freelance documentary production.

She joined the WRNI team in 2007 as a Morning Edition producer and freelance journalist. In 2009, she became a full-time reporter, and became the Morning Edition host in 2011.  She was promoted to full-time News Director in June of 2015.

Harrison's education is as wide ranging as her work at Rhode Island Public Radio. She has a B.A. in English and French from Wellesley College, and a joint M.A. in Journalism and French Studies from NYU.

A native of Los Angeles, Harrison loves good food and good movies.

Ways to Connect

The Sawyer School was apparently bleeding federal aid prior to its abrupt closure on New Year's Day. The Federal Department of Education says the for-profit school had gone from nearly $7.5 million in federal tuition dollars for the 2011-2012 academic year down to $2 million this year.

What happened? Well, one answer is declining enrollment. Sawyer reported 796 students in Rhode Island in the fall of 2011, but only 302 students when it shut down earlier this month.

Mat Rosa

(PROVIDENCE, RI) A group of URI students is spending their winter vacation in the Dominican Republic studying politics and health care.  The trip is part of a semester long class on political and social change in the Caribbean.  URI Political Science Professor Maureen Moakley and nursing student Alexa Wilson talk about the trip and what it means to both students and the people they visit.

(PROVIDENCE, RI) Governor Lincoln Chafee has announced his nominees for a new Board of Education, replacing the boards of higher education and K-12 public schools. The nine nominations include two teachers union officials, an emergency room physician and several attorneys.

Most are former members of the recently dissolved board of elementary and secondary schools and the board that oversaw higher education.

Just before Christmas, Chafee announced his selection of attorney Eva Marie Mancuso to chair the Board of Education.

Governor Lincoln Chafee has announced his picks for the new 11-member board of education, which replaces two former boards overseeing K-12 schools and colleges and universities.

The selections are mostly alums of the two boards that lawmakers dissolved in a June vote. As of December, Chafee had named only his choice to chair the board, leaving Rhode Island with no board in charge of education on January 1st.

Here are bios for the education board picks from a statehouse communiqué:

The FBI has joined the investigation of the now-defunct Sawyer School, a for-profit technical college that closed its doors on the first of the year.

State police say they're seeking to determine whether there was any criminal wrongdoing, or whether this is simply a case of a business going under.

Either way, Sawyer's closure left roughly 300 Rhode Island students and 1,200 students in Connecticut with partially completed certificates to become medical office assistants and other office administrators.

Rhode Island Public Radio's Political Analyst Scott MacKay answers my questions about the political machinations that left Rhode Island with no board for either K-12 public schools or colleges and universities at the start of 2013.

Sawyer School in Pawtucket, RI
Elisabeth Harrison

Special Assistant to the Commissioner of the RI Board of Governors for Higher Education, Michael Trainor, talks with RIPR Morning Edition Host Elisabeth Harrison about the Sawyer School which abruptly closed this month.  Trainor discusses what safeguards are in place to protect students enrolled in for-profit schools, the status of the school at its last audit, and what RI is doing for students left stranded.

The hotline is staffed daily 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 401-277-5282.

  • Who’s overseeing the state’s public schools, colleges and universities? The answer… it’s not clear, and it’s complicated.

The State Senate voted unanimously on Thursday to delay creation of a State Board of Education to replace the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Schools and the Board of Governors for Higher Education. The vote comes after those two boards dissolved on January 1st, leaving a question mark about who is in charge of the state’s K-12 public schools and three institutions of higher education.

(PROVIDENCE, RI) Rhode Island starts the New Year with uncertainty about who is overseeing public education. A state law dissolved the boards of higher education and k-12 public schools as of December 31st, and a new board was supposed to takeover on January 1st.

But Governor Lincoln Chafee has named only the chair of the new board. His pick was attorney and former higher education board member Eva Marie Mancuso.

Brown University President Christina Paxson
courtesy of Brown University

At the number nine slot, in our Top Ten 2012 News Story countdown is Brown University names a new president. Brown University welcomed a new commander-in-chief after the 11-year tenure of the popular Ruth Simmons. The school’s choice, Christina Hull Paxson, is an economist, who most recently led the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton.
Paxson comes to Brown as the school looks to maintain need blind admissions and find a home for a new school of engineering.

RISD President John Maeda reveals the parent-teacher conference that marked him for life, how he came to see the computer as a spiritual space for thinking and what he learned from sitting in a sandbox for several hours a day.

Wesleyan has ended its blanket need-blind admissions policy, saying it can no longer afford to admit every qualified student. Like Brown University, Wesleyan promises financial aid to any student who needs it. For a small number of applicants, that means they will not gain entrance to the college this year because they do not have enough money attend.

A New York Times article published this week suggests a growing practice of prescribing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drugs to low-income children who struggle in school.

The drugs, like Adderoll and Risperdal, can increase focus and improve a child’s behavior, but they are also addictive stimulants that can have negative side effects, including psychotic episodes.

The Board of Governors for Higher Education has just three full meetings left before it ceases to exist, at least in its current form.

The state is dissolving both the Board of Governors and the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education. Instead, a single board will oversee the state’s public schools and colleges and universities starting on January 1st, 2013. (No word yet, by the way, on when Governor Lincoln Chafee will announce his appointees for the new board)

Items the Board of Governors may address in its final days include:

School leaders say 90 percent of the faculty at Spaziano Elementary School in Providence support their plan to turn the public school into a charter school.

Spaziano has filed an early “prospectus” detailing its plans to the Providence School Department. District officials have asked all Providence schools to consider becoming charters, and so far two schools have shown an interest in taking them up on the proposal.