Updated March 23 at 5:23pm

RISD taps Somerson as provost


PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island School of Design has appointed Rosanne Somerson as its new provost. Somerson, who currently serves as RISD’s interim provost, will officially take the position on July 1.

Somerson is an alum of RISD’s industrial design department – class of 1976 – and in 1995, she played a significant role in founding the school’s furniture design department.

She has worked as a professor, a department head, interim associate provost and most recently as interim provost. “Rosanne’s career as a respected teacher and sought-after practitioner exemplifies our vision for RISD’s role in art and design education.” RISD President John Maeda said in prepared remarks.

“After working with Rosanne this past year as she served as interim provost, 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,” said Maeda “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.”

“With our new strategic plan in place, RISD is more poised than ever to develop and lead academic excellence here and in the world. We will continue to steward the disciplines that we teach with such rigor at RISD, and we will champion new developments in art and design education,” said Somerson.

“I am honored and enthused by the support of so many, and look forward to helping RISD to continue to contribute both to the development of our students, and to the future that they will help to shape,” added Somerson.

RISD also made some changes to its Board of Trustees.

The board elected Michael Spalter as its new chair, replacing Merrill W. Sherman, who was voted to be named chair emerita. Sherman will remain on RISD’s board for a third three-year term.

Five new trustees were added to the board, Joe Gebbia – cofounder and chief product officer at Airbnb, Robert Glass – executive vice president of corporate development at Robert Half International, painter and sculptor Amy Korenvaes, Mary Lovejoy – vice president and treasurer of Textron Inc. and Peter Stein of the Presidio Group LLC.

Lisa Pevaroff-Cohn and Stephen Key will continue to serve on the board as as vice chairs and V. Duncan Johnson will continue to serve as secretary.


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