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.

The Rhode Island School of Design has selected Interim President Rosanne Somerson to takeover the position permanently. The RISD Board announced the decision to faculty and students on Wednesday morning.

“President Somerson is a gifted, inspiring leader with great integrity, humility and vision, and is the perfect fit for RISD,” said Board of Trustees Chair Michael Spalter in the official announcement.

The Rhode Island School of Design has started conducting "preliminary interviews" in the search for a new president, a little more than a year after the departure of Johhn Maeda in December of 2013.

In a post on the university web site, RISD says the search committee has received nominations from nearly 100 faculty and other interested parties. University Board Chair Michael Spalter confirmed that the interview process has begun.

John Bender / RIPR

As many take a day off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, some are spending the day doing service projects.  A group of students in Providence celebrates with art.

In the gym at Martin Luther King elementary school, dozens of elementary school students are screen printing t-shirts, painting murals, and jewelry painting.  It’s part of the nationwide “day of service” program.  More than 100 Rhode Island School of Design students are working with the kids on their projects. 


Street crime is once again a political topic in Providence. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it’s time for nightclub owners to better control their rowdy customers.

Federal Hill is more restaurant theme park than Little Italy these days. While the Providence neighborhood is dear to older generations of Italian-Americans, it is no longer the fulcrum of such revered up-from-poverty Rhode Islanders as former Sen. John Pastore, who grew up there.

In an email to RISD faculty, Board Chair Michael Spalter has announced that the search for a new president is underway.

The board has appointed an 11-member search committee, which includes representatives from the RISD Museum, the faculty and the board of trustees.

The university has hired executive search firm Isaacson Miller to help with the search.

RISD's former President John Maeda stepped down unexpectedly in the middle of the academic year to take a venture capital job in Silicon Valley.

Elisabeth Harrison

Recent college graduates in Rhode Island have some of the highest loan burdens in the country, according to a national study called the Project on Student Debt. At the same time, Rhode Island faces consistently high unemployment and a sluggish economy.

All that made me wonder what it’s like to finish college with significant debt, so I set out to meet some of the graduates facing this problem and the experts who study it. I’ve been amazed by the response to their stories.

Wikimedia Commons

Once again, Rhode Islanders are making national news for the low regard we have for our tiny state. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it’s time to stop taking Rhode Island  for granted.

The Gallup poll discovered that Rhode Island is the state least appreciated by its own residents. Just 18 percent of Rhode Islanders said our small slice of southeastern New England was the best place or one of the best places to live.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

In the final installment of our series Paying For It: Rhode Islanders Struggle with Student Debt, education reporter Elisabeth Harrison visits the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority to speak with Executive Director Charlie Kelley. She asked him to walk through the payment system for a student who has borrowed $31,000, about the average for recent graduates in Rhode Island.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Many Rhode Islanders are paying off student loans that average more than $31,000, one of the highest student debt burdens in the nation. As we continue our series Paying for It: Rhode Islanders Struggle With Student Debt, we look at what happens when those loans are too much to handle.

Rhode Island Public Radio’s Education reporter Elisabeth Harrison met Allison Dean at her house on a quiet street in Warwick, sandwiched between the airport and Narragansett Bay.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Rhode Island has the fifth highest rate of student loan debt in the country and experts say part of the reason is the large number of expensive, private colleges, like Bryant University, Providence College and Salve Regina in Newport. One of the most expensive is the Rhode Island School of Design.

Rhode Island Public Radio’s education reporter, Elisabeth Harrison, met one graduate now staring down hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans.

This year, Brown University plans to honor acclaimed authors Jeffrey Eugenides and Lois Lowry, both Brown alums, along with U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and seven other Brown graduates.

At the Rhode Island School of Design, commencement festivities will include an honorary degree for designer Todd Oldham and a keynote speech from designer Bruce Mau.