RIC President Sanchez leaving school in June

FRANK D. SANCHEZ will not seek a third term as Rhode Island College's president and will leave the college at the end of June. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO
FRANK D. SANCHEZ will not seek a third term as Rhode Island College's president and will leave the college at the end of June. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

PROVIDENCE – There will be a changing of the guard at Rhode Island College.

The state-run school announced Thursday that Frank D. Sánchez, who has served as RIC’s president for the last six years, has informed the R.I. Council on Postsecondary Education that he will not seek a third three-year term as president. He will leave the college when the current contract expires on June 30.

Sánchez told Providence Business News Thursday that there are some “personal reasons” and some “family reasons” for why he is leaving RIC. He did not elaborate on what his  plans will be after June 30, but he said he will share them with the community “in the not-to-distant future,” adding he hopes to stay in higher education.

RIC said the college has made strides since Sánchez took the helm in 2016, including the school appearing for the first time in Washington Monthly’s 2021 Top 100 Masters University list as the top Public Masters University in New England. Gov. Daniel J. McKee said in a statement that Sánchez has significantly raised RIC’s stature during his tenure and “I, and the state, are certainly appreciative of his leadership. I wish him great success in his future endeavors.”

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RIC also introduced new academic programs, such as a department of computer science and information systems and the Lifespan School of Medical Imaging, under Sánchez’s leadership, the college said. RIC also in early 2020 opened its workforce development hub in Central Falls to help address the state’s skills gaps.

Fundraising at RIC has grown more than 200% while Sánchez has been president and the college’s endowment now exceeds $42 million, RIC said. Plus, the campus, the college said, has seen building upgrades and renovations, including to Gaige Hall, Craig-Lee Hall and a new nursing wing in Fogarty Hall with Sánchez as president.

“A lot of good things have happened at the college over the last six years, and I think the college is in a much stronger place than when I started in 2016,” Sanchez said. “We moved the dial on so many fronts.”

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit RIC hard. Due to a $10 million budget gap in the summer of 2020, RIC was forced to lay off full-time employees and close the Henry Barnard School. The school has since been saved by a local association from permanent closure and is now Providence Country Day School’s elementary school.

Questions also were raised in early 2021 when the state hired Alvarez & Marsal Public Sector Services LLC to provide analysis and recommendations related to programmatic, operational and financial improvements at RIC to the tune of $76,000 per week for 10 weeks. The contract was canceled after four weeks.

Among other initiatives, the A&M report noted that RIC should focus on developing new strategies to recruit new students within Rhode Island, increasing student retention and maximizing federal grants focusing on increasing access for students.

Sánchez said there’s always difficult decisions that have to be made as president and felt that RIC did the best it can to support Rhode Islanders in keeping a “healthy and safe community,” while delivering the college’s mission during the pandemic.

RIC said the postsecondary education council will begin searching for Sánchez’s replacement in the coming weeks.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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