May 29, 2012
Dear RISD Community,
I am pleased to share with you that Professor and interim Provost Rosanne Somerson will serve as RISD’s Provost beginning July 1, 2012.
As a longtime member of our community, Rosanne brings to this position a significant knowledge of RISD’s strengths and a profound respect for our culture, history and traditions. Her RISD identity grounds her leadership, her teaching and her active participation in the global dialogue on art and design. Rosanne’s career as a respected teacher and sought-after practitioner exemplifies our vision for RISD’s role in art and design education. Her performance as interim Provost this year has shown us all her ability to lead collaboratively with our faculty and faculty leaders.
As many of us know, Rosanne’s RISD roots run deep. As a student in the Industrial Design department, she personally experienced the depth and rigor of our departmental curriculum, which she now champions so eloquently. The Furniture Design Department, which she played a significant role in founding, has produced stellar students and alumni whose flexible thinking and passionate making have informed their field and beyond. As a member of and staunch advocate for the RISD faculty for 25 years, Rosanne is keenly aware of the opportunities as well as the challenges the College faces. Provost Somerson is the right leader to enable RISD to seize these opportunities.
As a department head, interim Associate Provost, and interim Provost, her considerable achievements include designing an inclusive process to complete our strategic plan, building institutional partnerships, nurturing collaborations between RISD and Brown, providing and fostering greater opportunities for faculty development, and bringing a focus to academic facilities and technology. Rosanne has fostered this progress creatively and fairly through collaboration, building a solid academic leadership, and thoughtful listening. In addition, her experience as an international lecturer, juror, exhibitor and evaluator allow her to apply both local and global perspectives to her work.
Rosanne’s robust creative practice keeps her firmly rooted in the sphere of making. Her work has been exhibited widely throughout the world and is represented in many prestigious museum collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Renwick Collection of the National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC, and our own RISD Museum of Art. She has served on the boards of the Haystack Mountain School, ME, the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, is a named Fellow of the American Craft Council, and is the subject of an interview that forms part of the Smithsonian Institute Archives of American Art Oral History Program. Later this year she will receive the Award of Distinction from the Furniture Society for lifetime achievement in the field of studio furniture.
In December, I charged a search committee of faculty, deans, students, administrators and a trustee with designing an inclusive process and presenting me with a recommendation for RISD’s next academic leader. I thank the committee for executing this charge responsibly and with collegiality, bringing diverse perspectives to their deliberations and consulting broadly with the community. After extensive vetting of an international pool of candidates, the committee narrowed the field to three highly qualified finalists and recommended Rosanne with their strong support.
My sincere appreciation goes to Professors Chris Bardt, Deborah Coolidge, Daniel Cavicchi, Kelly Dobson, Nancy Skolos, Kevin Zucker; Deans Anais Missakian, Brian Smith, and Joanne Stryker; students Jessica Durkin and Greg Nemes; Bill Decatur and Jean Eddy from my senior leadership team; and trustee Stephen Metcalf for undertaking this valuable service to RISD with the utmost diligence. Special thanks go to interim Associate Provost Patricia Phillips for chairing the search amidst a bevy of other responsibilities.
After working with Rosanne this past year, and observing her leadership of the academic mission with the Deans, I am confident that Rosanne will perform this role with generosity, courage and integrity. She will bring a passion and energy that embodies the finest values we try to instill in our students and will continue to bring out the best in our community.
Please join me in congratulating Provost Rosanne Somerson!