The Rhode Island School of Design inaugurates Roseanne Somerson Friday during outdoor ceremony in Providence. Somerson took over as interim president following the abrupt departure of former President John Maeda in 2013.

Somerson began at RISD, as a photography major in 1971. She returned to RISD, and helped create the school’s first undergraduate furniture design program.

John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation/Creative Commons License

Artist Nicole Eisenman, who received a BFA in painting from RISD in 1987 is part of the new class of MacArthur Grant recipients.

Eisenman works in a variety of media including painting, sculpture and printmaking.


A year after a solar decathlon competition in France, the one-of-a-kind solar house designed and built by students at Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design and University of Applied Sciences in Erfurt, Germany is in the limelight. Fast Company has selected this solar house as one of nine finalists for its 2015 “Innovation by Design” student awards.

  All of us have an overflowing collection of early-life experiences and memories.  Some are glorious and some, well, not so much.  Whether these memories are warm and fuzzy or profoundly traumatic, presumably all of us can reach into the rich assortment and pull out at least a handful of truly formative, perhaps life-altering experiences.  And that's what we hear from Mike Fink.

Mike Fink is an English professor at the Rhode Island School of Design. He has produced columns in a wide range of local and national magazines and earned the Providence Journal's Metcalf Award and the National Conference for Community Justice Award, as well as the Never Again Award for journalism.

Summer in Rhode Island means time to grab a book and sink your toes into the sand, or head out to the nearest lawn chair. For a few summer reading tips, Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison turned to Nicole Merola, chair of the Department of Literary Arts and Studies at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Nicole Merola's summer book picks:


"I've just started it, and I have to say that I'm really kind of engrossed in the way that he is weaving together music, musical composition, chemistry and bioterrorism."


Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza wants to convince more college graduates to stay in the capital city. He’s launched a new initiative to reach out to young people.

He said the goal is to make living in Providence desirable to millennials.

“Per capita, we have the largest number of college graduates of any state in the country,” said Elorza. “These are the entrepreneurs, the civic leaders and they’re the employees of the future. So it’s a priority of mine to make sure that we retain them here.”

RIPR File Photo

The Rhode Island School of Design is the first university in the state to pledge to stop investing in fossil fuel companies.

  Board Chairman Michael Spalter said the trustees studied the issue for two years after a student campaign. He said ultimately they felt it was the right move and voted unanimously for the change.

The Rhode Island School of Design celebrates commencement on Saturday at the convention center. At one point it appeared as though 666 students would receive degrees, but the count has gone up to 669.

Either way, the number seems fitting for cult film director John Waters, who is scheduled to address the graduates. Waters is known for movies that push the boundaries of good taste.

RISD President Rosanne Somerson says RISD is known for quirky moments at commencement. Part of the university's tradition involves a unique take on the traditional black robe.

John Bender / RIPR

The Rhode Island school of Design in Providence has reached a contract agreement with the Technicians’ Union.  The union’s 44 members began a public strike last Thursday.

By Friday dozens of students had joined the 44 workers in picket lines around the campus.  RISD’s technicians operate ceramics, metal working, and glass studios, among others.  The Technicians’ union alleged that they get fewer benefits than other faculty, and that RISD walked away from negotiations. School officials say the union rejected the contract they offered.

John Bender / RIPR

Picket lines will be visible outside the Rhode Island School of Design Thursday because of a labor dispute with some workers. The Technicians Union represents 44 employees, responsible for many of RISD’s famous studios. 

From glass to ceramics and metalworking, Union President Tucker Houlihan said they’re crucial to a RISD education.

Chuck Hinman / RIPR

This week an estimated 5,ooo ceramic artists, educators and industry professionals gathered in Providence for the 49th annual conference of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts.

Rhode Island Public Radio's weekend host Chuck Hinman talked to two of those involved; Jay Lacouture, on-site liason and ceramics professor at Salve Regina University, and Jo-Ann Conklin, Director of the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University.


RISD has announced that filmmaker John Waters will address this year's graduating class.

Waters, a quirky, independent filmmaker who successfully crossed over to mainstream Hollywood, has written and directed more than a dozen movies, including the cult classic Pink Flamingos. Some of his other credits include the 1980's hit Hairspray and Cry Baby, starring Johnny Depp.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Laughter

Mar 11, 2015

All of us need some well-timed humor and frivolity in our lives.  Laughter – whether a quiet chuckle or full-throated guffaw – helps us cope with life’s inevitable dark moments and can help us avoid taking ourselves and others too seriously.  The poet E. E. Cummings once famously wrote, “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”  And that’s what we hear from Mike Fink.

Courtesy RISD

The RISD museum has received a $2.5 million gift from the Rockefeller family.  The money will go to support the museum’s decorative arts department.

The decorative arts refer to objects which have practical uses as well as artistic value; such as furniture, silverware, and vases.   In addition to the monetary gift, David Rockefeller, is donating about 43 objects from his personal collection. Museum director John Smith said the most important items include some eighteenth century English furniture.

Courtesy RISD

After an international search, the Rhode Island School of Design has settled on one of its own to take over as president. RISD has tapped Rosanne Somerson, a RISD graduate who’s been serving as interim president since December 2013.

Former president John Maeda stepped down suddenly, after a rocky relationship with RISD faculty. Maeda surprised many at RISD when he announced he had taken a job at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers.