December Update from the Provost

Dear Faculty,

As this semester comes to a close I have exciting news to report. As some of you may know, we have a small Faculty Conference Fund in Academic Affairs designated to help support faculty participation in conferences where they are presenting. The expectation is that those applying will receive support from their respective Divisions supplemented by funds in Academic Affairs. Since beginning in the interim Provost role, I have been working on a way to improve the reach of that fund. I believe that these opportunities not only offer professional development and networking opportunities for our faculty, but also serve to showcase the excellence of RISD faculty out in the world. I was dismayed to learn that we had to turn down so many requests this year. In fact, though the fund begins each July, by early fall all the resources were depleted. I am pleased to announce that through a reallocation of resources in our office I was able to double the fund for this year. I am hopeful that this increase will continue through strategic planning allocations on an ongoing basis going forward. While this won’t be enough to fund every request, this increase will enable a lot more of our faculty to gain partial support for these important presentations.

Another concern that I have heard repeatedly from faculty is that our website has not regularly and notably featuring them. Working with Becky Bermont and her staff in Media, I requested the launch of a new page on the site. I am happy to report that the page will launch at the beginning of the spring semester.

Here are the specifics:

Media will add an enhanced Faculty area to the Academics section of ( to discuss the role of faculty more explicitly. This new area will include:

• a new “Faculty Newsbites” area to the Academics section that will aggregate timely faculty    information (much like the area that exists in RISD XYZ)

• aggregated faculty-focused feature stories           (e.g.

• a full, searchable directory of faculty from all departments.

At the moment faculty information can only be found on their home department’s page. With this new page, faculty will be “searchable” through both the departmental pages and the general faculty page.

Finally, I requested support to get “headshots” up for all faculty, many of whom currently do not have photos on their department page. Media will sponsor a couple of dates early in the spring (at two different times to try to accommodate varied teaching schedules) when faculty may elect to have their headshots taken in a studio setting by a graduate Photo student recommended by Steve Smith. While not required, this will hopefully be helpful to faculty who don’t currently have headshots posted. Details will follow closer to that time.

I am pleased to help advance these multiple ways to showcase our faculty and their achievements.

I have had the chance to visit a few critiques this week, though nowhere near as many as I wish I could. As always, I am inspired by the student work, but also by the articulate capabilities of our students and the intense intelligence around the creative process. Evident in these visits is the commendable expertise of our faculty as well as their clear dedication to their students.

As the semester draws to a close I want to thank everyone for the work we have done as a community building a more positive academic environment, passing an ambitious strategic plan, and first and foremost, educating our students. I wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday, and hope for great things in the new year ahead.

Best regards and holiday wishes,

Rosanne Somerson

Interim Provost

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