Five Questions With Frank D. Sanchez

Frank D. Sanchez | President, Rhode Island College

1. Gov. Gina M. Raimondo has proposed expanding the Rhode Island Promise program to RIC. How important would this be to a four-year college? The Rhode Island College Promise would provide Rhode Islanders arguably the most affordable four-year degree in the country. This will be a tremendous return on investment in terms of developing a better-educated, better-prepared workforce, attracting businesses that need access to talent and attracting residents who want a reasonably priced four-year degree.

The long-term benefits will far outweigh the upfront investment.

2. Is RIC prepared to take on a larger student body, increased demand on faculty and staff, or additional processing of state and federal scholarship paperwork? Absolutely. As supporters of expanding student success, we have already been focused on redesigning our systems and programs to support increased enrollment.

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3. What do you foresee as the greatest challenge to Rhode Island Promise implementation on RIC’s campus? The biggest challenge is making sure Rhode Islanders fully understand what this new Promise program is and what it isn’t. … The RIC Promise program is designed to help students get over the finish line.

It’s not free college or a giveaway. This is a scholarship that only juniors and seniors are eligible for, provided they started at RIC as freshmen [CCRI students are not eligible], have at least a 2.5 GPA and 60 credit hours after two years.

4. You co-chair a committee on the Recovery-Friendly Workplace Initiative tasked with creating guidelines for companies to brand themselves “recovery-friendly” and, therefore, attract potential employees in recovery from substance addiction. How has that committee progressed since its launch in August? The committee has made great progress. We’ve met monthly. … A guidebook for employers to become recovery-friendly will be released in the spring. We’ll also work directly with businesses to help them implement the proposals.

5. Is the idea catching locally, and with which firms have you made inroads? Companies are stepping up to become recovery-friendly. Committee members … include the R.I. Hospital Association, Governor’s Workforce Board, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Association of New England and Thundermist Health Associates Inc., [among others].