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

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.

Two Providence elementary schools will apply to become charter schools. The first schools entering a new district initiative are Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School and Spaziano Elementary School.

Martin Luther King school leaders say they plan to work the The Learning Community Charter School in Central Falls. Spaziano will partner with the Highlander Charter School in Providence.

More details to come!

MacArthur genius grant recipient and author Junot Diaz is slated to speak at RISD on November 5th. The talk will be open to the public.

Diaz, who teaches writing at MIT, also won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

The book was assigned reading over the summer for all incoming RISD students. School officials say it will be part of this year’s curriculum in both fine arts and liberal arts courses.

Brown will honor its new president, Christina H. Paxson, with an official inauguration ceremony on October 27th. The proceedings will be on the main college green at 2 p.m.

The evening prior to the inauguration, Brown is offering a free night of performances at Veterans Memorial Auditorium. The university says the event will be hosted by actress and Brown alum Kate Burton, and it will include performances by artists from both the Brown and Rhode Island communities.

The Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education meets this week to consider a budget request for the coming fiscal year.

The Department of Education is preparing two scenarios:  one for level-funding and one for a seven percent decrease.

This is one of just two meetings and two work sessions remaining before the board is dissolved in favor of a single Board of Education. The new board will oversee both elementary and secondary schools and Rhode Island’s three institutions of higher education.

Actress Jemima Kirke, who plays free-spirited but aloof Jessa Johansson on HBO’s breakout show “Girls,” ought to know her way around Providence. She’s a recent graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.

Kirke earned a BFA in painting from RISD in 2008. She’s also the daughter of drummer Simon Kirk, of Bad Company fame.

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