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Rhode Island School of Design (RISD ) is a private art and design school in Providence, Rhode Island. It was founded in 1877 and offers bachelor's and master's degree programs across 19 majors. It is affiliated with Brown University, with which it shares a contiguous campus on College Hill.
RISD's campus is located at the base of College Hill and contiguous with the Brown University campus. The two institutions, which share social, academic, and community resources, offer a joint degree program and students can cross register for classes.
The RISD community includes 181 full-time and 421 part-time faculty members, and 2,009 undergraduate and 492 graduate students. The school has nearly 30,000 alumni.
The Rhode Island School of design's founding is often traced back to Helen Adelia Rowe Metcalf's 1876 visit to the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. At the exposition, Metcalf visited the Women's Pavilion. Organized by the "Centennial Women," the pavilion showcased the work of female entrepreneurs, artists, and designers. Metcalf's visit to the pavilion profoundly impacted her and motivated her to address a deficiency in design education accessible to women.
Following the exhibition, the RI committee of the Centennial Women had $1,675 remaining in funds; the group spent some time negotiating how best to use the surplus. Metcalf lobbied the group to use the money to establish a coeducational, design school in Providence. On January 11, 1877, a majority of women on the committee voted for Metcalf's proposal.
On March 22, 1877, the Rhode Island General Assembly ratified "An Act to Incorporate the Rhode Island School of Design" , "[f]or the purpose of aiding in the cultivation of the arts of design". Over the next 129 years, the following original by-laws set forth these following primary objectives:
The school opened in October of 1877 in Providence. The first class consisted of 43 students, the majority of whom were women.
For the first 15 years of its existence, RISD occupied a suite of six rooms on the fourth floor of the Hoppin Homestead Building in Downtown Providence. On October 24 1893, the school dedicated a new brick building at 11 Waterman Street on College Hill. Designed by Hoppin, Reid & Hoppin, this building served as the first permanent home for the school.
After the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent closure of the RISD campus in March 2020, RISD suggested a future of a hybrid of classes online and in-person.
In July 2020, President Somerson began negotiations with the RISD faculty union over the avoidance of possible layoffs by suggesting cost-cutting measures. The part-time faculty union, the National Education Association rejected the initial proposal.
Racial diversity and equity
In the summer of 2020, after the Black Lives Matter and George Floyd protests, RISD students and alumni came forward to voice outrage at the institution for failing at social equity and inclusion. They formed a student-led RISD Anti-Racism Coalition (ARC) alongside BIPOC faculty. As a result in July 2020, RISD announced they would hire 10 new faculty members that would specialize in "race and ethnicity in arts and design", the RISD museum would return back to Nigeria a sculpture that was once looted, expand and diversify the curriculum, and the school would, "remain committed to reform".
The RISD Museum houses the school's collections of art
The Chace Center contains both exhibition and studio space
The RISD Museum was founded in 1877 on the belief that art, artists, and the institutions that support them play pivotal roles in promoting broad civic engagement and creating more open societies. The RISD Museum stewards works of art representing cultures from ancient times to the present from around the globe.
RISD has many athletic clubs and teams. As might be considered fitting for an arts school, the symbolism used for the teams is unique. The hockey team is called the "Nads", and their cheer is "Go Nads!" The logo for the Nads features a horizontal hockey stick with two non-descript circles at the end of the stick's handle.
The basketball team is known simply as the "Balls", and their slogan is, "When the heat is on, the Balls stick together." The Balls' logo consists of two balls next to one another in an irregularly shaped net.
Lest the sexual innuendo of these team names and logos be lost or dismissed, the 2001 creation of the school's mascot, Scrotie, ended any ambiguity. Despite the name, Scrotie is not merely a representation of a scrotum, but is a 7-foot tall penis, with scrotum and testes at the bottom. In 2016, the school reported that the 2009 incarnation of the mascot had been deemed not appropriate for younger fans, and so the mascot would return to its earlier, "more cartoonish" appearance.
RISDmade & RISD Craft
Goods by RISD makers and designers can be found on RISDmade, an online marketplace of alumni-produced products, and at RISD Craft, a juried sale held each October in Providence.