Update from the Provost February 24, 2010

Dear Faculty and Librarians,

As we start the work of Spring semester, I just want to take a minute to say a few words to help contextualize some of the work that has been going on in Academic Affairs and to give you a few timely updates. I will use this space from time to time to communicate important matters and to keep you abreast of the continuing work within Academic Affairs and the College. It has been a long haul to prepare and launch this site and I hope you and your staff will find it useful. I offer my  thanks, once again, to the Academic Affairs staff for their persistence and hard work. This site is a work in progress, so please know that your feedback is welcome and will insure the future success of how we best communicate with one another when we need to use an electronic interface. For the beginning phase of the site, Academic Affairs staff will handle all postings. Posting authority will be extended once we work through any bugs. Please send all requests for postings to Anj Shaw at:  jshaw01@risd.edu.

As you know, there are 68 people participating in the current Strategic Planning process. Each of the five groups have met about four times and are beginning to identify key issues for further inquiry.  As information starts to be brought forward to various faculty groups, there will be many opportunities for you to participate in discussions. The students have been working hard in the groups and their voices bring a thoughtful and much appreciated perspective to the conversations at the table. This Friday we will be updating the Board of Trustees on the progress of the working groups. Each Strategic Planning working group will be represented by students, faculty and co-chairs in discussion with Board members. The intention is to create a venue for conversation with the Board rather than simply reporting the facts. Updates on Strategic Planning efforts will be posted on the AA site under “current initiatives” and on the RISD ‘Strategic Planning’ intranet page.  Monthly newsletters from the President’s Office will also be posted to the AA site, the ‘Strategic Planning’ intranet page, and to the President’s page on the www.risd.edu site.

A few words about 2010 enrollment figures to date and other statistics regarding academic programs that might be of interest:

The Admissions Committee now begins the critical work of accepting the class of 2014. The faculty graduate coordinators have already begun looking through applications in their respective departments. Many thanks to all for your work and dedication to continuing to bring the best students in the world to RISD.

Our admissions goal for the upcoming academic year calls for 190 new graduate students, 80 transfers, and 440 freshmen, 14 of whom will be dual degree students. As we begin to reach our various application deadlines, we know the numbers of completed graduate applications (deadline January 21st) are up nearly 11% from last year at this time and 41% higher than this time two years ago. Our completed transfer applications, however, are down nearly 25% from last year and nearly 41% from two years ago, and freshman applications are also down, trailing last year by 19% and by 34% from this time two years ago. The freshman deadline (February 15th) has just passed, and we are anticipating the usual spike in completed applications as this part of the process comes to closure. The transfer deadline isn’t until later in the spring, so these numbers will also change. Nonetheless, the numbers indicate that we will need to carefully monitor both enrollment and financial aid as we look toward the future. The Admissions Office is currently working  to address these issues and as well, an Enrollment Planning Group is currently being formed. The quality of our applicant pool remains high but we clearly face recruiting challenges in the near future.

There are currently 12 students in the Brown/RISD Dual Degree Program class of 2013 and 14 in the class of 2014. We continue to evaluate the progress of the program as it enters its third year. By all accounts, the students are doing well and are quite pleased with their experience.

During our just-completed Wintersession, we offered a total of 179 course sections. There were 2283 students enrolled in Wintersession courses and they occupied 2859 seats, not counting independent studies and internships. There were 955 students who took two courses, or one course and an independent study project. There were 189 students who went on 11 travel courses to Mexico, India, France, Ghana, Switzerland and Japan. There were 219 students involved in independent study or collaborative study projects, and 110 were on internships during Wintersession. The number of course sections offered in Wintersession 2010 was the same as last year, despite the cuts we made in response to the ongoing budget crisis.

For the fall and wintersession of this academic year,  we have had 255 students with Internships, 297 Independent Studies and 46 Collaborative Independent Studies.

There are currently 428 international students enrolled at RISD – 326 undergraduates and 102 graduate students. Industrial Design, Architecture, Graphic Design, Interior Architecture and Illustration respectively, have the greatest number of international students registered in their departments. During AY09/10, 19 RISD students are taking advantage of exchange opportunities to study at 9 other colleges throughout the world. This year, 28 students from other countries have chosen to study at RISD for a semester.

We had 24 students participate in EHP in the fall (10 in Architecture + Design and 14 in Fine Arts). This spring semester there will be 22 students in Rome at the Cenci (1 from Architecture + Design and 21 from Fine Arts). Peter Tagiuri was Chief Critic in the fall and Holly Hughes is Chief Critic this spring. Thanks to both of them for guiding our students through this great experience.

The CFA has been working steadily and on schedule. Thanks to the committee for their hard work and dedication to this important work. There are 12 faculty up for reappointment this year, 5 applications for promotions, two people on pre-critical review leave and 30 faculty on sabbatical.  Sabbatical presentations are about to begin again. The presentations in the fall were amazing and promise to be so again this semester.  Please check the calendar on the site for dates and times and be sure to join us.

The faculty searches in English, HAVC and Foundation Studies are moving along and are on schedule, each at different stages in the process. Thanks to all the members of the committees, snowstorms withstanding, trips to CAA, and other places! Our commitment to hiring outstanding faculty is of the highest priority and I am pleased that we were able to go forward with as many faculty searches as we have, given the current world financial situation.

The deadline for submitting applications to Academic Affairs for the Professional Development Fund is April 7. Academic Affairs increased the funding by $25,000 during the fiscal year 2009-10 and a total of $102,016 in grant money was awarded to 27 faculty members. The Kyobo Fund has provided $59,550 in funding for curricular initiatives for 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Other updates:

This year we have initiated a website for Commencement to better communicate and help both parents and students prepare for this important celebration. Visit http://risdcommencement.wordpress.com for additional details and contact information. The Commencement website has proven to be an effective tool as a “go-to” for anyone who has questions about the celebration. Since its launch in early January, we have had over 2,500 views. It encompasses all facets of the event ranging from deadlines, location and schedule, to arranging accommodations and detailed FAQ’s. Please check periodically for the latest updates!

The faculty and students have been extremely active in their response to the situation in Haiti. We proudly join other colleges and universities in our communal efforts and continued response. Check out the website for updates on activities and events at http://risdhaiti.wordpress.com/.

RISD the Musical“ takes place on February 26-27, directed and produced entirely by students. I snuck in on a rehearsal on Sunday. It promises to be AMAZING! Don’t miss it this weekend, Friday and Saturday, 8PM in the RISD Auditorium. The students will appreciate our support. Thanks to Jonathan Highfield, Tom Roberts, Patricia Barbeito and other faculty who have lent their support and guidance to the students in this gigantic undertaking.

The Pat Steir exhibition opened in the Museum on February 19 and there will be a special celebration this Saturday, 5:30-7:30PM. Students from across departments worked diligently to complete a fantastic installation as part of the exhibition. Thanks to all of them and to Dennis Congdon and Jan Howard for organizing this exciting opportunity for the students.

Again, please join me in extending a warm welcome to Bill Decatur, EVP for Finance and Administration, Brian Smith, Dean of Continuing Education, and Anthony Gallonio, Director of Financial Aid, all of whom began their posts in January.

RISD is an amazing place. The quality of our faculty and students is unsurpassed anywhere. They are our greatest resource. The responsibility to steward RISD into the future belongs to all of us and I look forward to working with all of you as we pave the way.

Have a great semester!


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