Recent steps

Based on strong student demand and extended deliberation with stakeholders throughout RISD, President Somerson has been working with members of the SEA Working Group and the President’s Cabinet to determine how our institutional frameworks for teaching, learning, creative expression and academic scholarship can best incorporate the core principles of inclusion, equal opportunity and full respect for all members of the community. The following are among the steps taken since spring semester 2016.

“We all struggle out of fear of our differences.... Only in acknowledging our fears in an intimate and safe way can we begin to accept ourselves and move towards collective social change.” Kate Reed / student / BRDD 21 ID

Structures and Internal Research

▸ Social Equity Action Working Group Launched (Feb. 2016):

▸ Recommended and received departmental diversity/inclusion/equity reviews and assessments (April 2016)

▸ Completed SEA plan recommendations and received extensive community feedback (Nov. 2016)

▸ ISE (Intercultural Student Engagement):

▸ Ewing Multicultural Center upgraded (summer 2016). Accessibility for first floor lounge addressed. Landscaping and construction to allow further accessibility (expected completion May 2017)

▸ New Director of ISE (Barbara Baker) hired in August 2016

▸ New ISE Website (August 2016)

▸ Project Thrive restructuring planned for Fall 2017:

▸ Will include collaborations with Foundations Studies to streamline an academic component into Project Thrive

▸ Will expand faculty involvement as part of a learning community model

▸ Incubating idea of 2 years Thrive that expands alumni, peer, and faculty mentoring

▸ ISE Student Staff Cultural Programmers expanded from 5 positions to 9 in January 2017, each with a specific identity role (and working together at intersections). Staff produces events (e.g., West Broadway Middle School Black History Month celebration in February 2017) and programming addressing all aspects of social diversity, cultural competency, and identity support development

▸ Increased support for LGBTQIA students:

▸ New Chosen Name Policy

▸ Additional gender inclusive restrooms (locations listed on ISE’s LGBTQ website)

▸ #IllGoWithYou Campaign

▸ Programming (Robyn Ochs [10/16] + BiBrunch, free screening of Moonlight [Feb. 2017, in honor of Black History Month]

▸ Pride Room (Fones Cottage, January 2017)

▸ Drag Show (returning after 3 year absence in April 2017)

▸ Increased support for student spiritual and faith practices:

▸ Map of Local LGBTQIA-inclusive Places of Worship

▸ Enhanced relationship with Brown Hillel and Office of the Chaplains and Religious Life (in cooperation with Office of Strategic Initiatives in the President’s Office)

▸ Reflection Room doubled in size, moved to Fones Cottage, and hours extended (6 am - 11:00 pm)

▸ CSI (Center for Student Involvement):

▸ RISD Leads (certificate program and weekly workshop series): Greater emphasis on social justice: categories added to each session (including “theory,” “communication,” “operational,” and “inclusion and diversity”) to help students identify speakers' areas of expertise (2016 – )

▸ POSE - (Pre-Orientation Service Experience): Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island added to POSE schedule to give students an introduction to the critical work that is happening in the city around immigrant and refugee education, advocacy, and employment (2016 – )

▸ Program Coordinator position (new role as of 2015; currently Megan Long): develops success of student clubs and orgs with focus on increasing internal organizations representing marginalized populations and identities

▸ OISS (Office of International Student Services):

▸ International student orientation dedicated to the successful transition of RISD’s international undergraduate and graduate student populations

▸ Staff increase: Sevis Coordinator hired in October 2016 (Amy Iglesias; position increases systems, processes, and immigration compliance support for international students)

▸ Added website with support for visa issues in response to early 2017 presidential memos and executive orders

▸ Residence Life:

▸DEI workshops included in RA Training (2016 - )

▸ Creation of three RISD AIR (Advocate in Residence) positions (2016 - )

▸ Diversity Champion role established (Human Resources):

▸ Current RISD staff members identified, trained, and assigned to all exempt searches to act as a resource to the search committee/hiring manager to ensure a diverse pool of candidates

▸ Diversity Fellows Program (2016 – ):

▸ Marc Boucai and Reya Sehgal presenting performances and workshops around diversity, equity, and inclusion for staff, students, and faculty(in collaboration with the MLK Series)

▸ Rene Payne providing MLK Series design work and student mentorship

▸ Nancy Prophet Fellowship in Museum: two-year position across Curatorial and Education departments (currently Amber Lopez)

▸ Changes to health insurance for faculty/staff + students to better represent our multiple populations

▸ NADAAA building inclusivity/equity into new quad plans (2016 – )

▸ Increased number of gender inclusive bathrooms (locations listed on ISE’s LGBTQ website)

▸ Commencement 2017: Deeper attention paid to language and ability in event planning

▸ Increased emphasis on diversifying Honorary Degree recipients (2015 – )

▸ Career Center (2016 – ):

▸ Communications:

▸ Website updated with more inclusive language, including non-gender specific pronouns (2017)

▸ Focused sharing of more diverse stories of career success after RISD on Facebook to encourage reach to diverse populations

▸ Programming:

▸ Identifying and inviting firms awarded for diversity initiatives to Design Portfolio Reviews (2017)

▸ Encouraging alumni and HR staff from historically underrepresented groups to participate as reviewers at events

▸ Career Center staff has undergone diversity awareness and ally training, and attended “Here Are All the Black People” (NYC multicultural career fair) where they extended invitations to company representatives to attend Internship Connect and Portfolio Reviews

▸ Student Support:

▸ Social Innovation Fellowship Information and Writing Workshops (up to $4,000 to grow a social venture over the summer + a year of skills training, complementary coursework, and special access to mentorship and critique)

▸ Maharam Fellowship Workshop and Dinner (Advice from past recipients on developing Maharam internship proposals related to public/social/community concerns)

▸ Steps for Success – Project Thrive (Community dinner and informal conversation on developing career focus)

▸ Explore Social Ventures @ Social Enterprise Greenhouse (Invites RISD students interested in social impact through art and design to learn about a local organization that supports community work)

▸ Brown-RISD Common Good Internship and Job Fair

▸ Women in Leadership Panel (in partnership with Intercultural Student Engagement)

▸ Brown Social Innovation Fellowship (partnership with Brown to provide 2 RISD students up to $4,000 to grow a social venture over the summer)

▸ Harvard HBX CORe Program (relationship with Harvard Business School to fund students in need to participate in fundamentals of business program)

▸ Establishment of Integrated Planning Office (2015) and incorporation of Institutional Research position (Ni Yi) to enhance internal research and data analysis/sharing

▸ Closer look at Fact Book data (2016; in partnership with requests from BAAD) — added internal statistics to federally

required IPEDS metrics in order to track institutional progress and evaluate strategic objectives

▸ Second Campus Climate Survey (faculty, staff, and students; 2015)

▸ Purchased new software to publish monthly-updated organizational charts for all RISD administrative structures (2017)

▸ Ongoing research on Market House/Square history by President’s Office, Academic Affairs, and Institutional Engagement (2016 – )

▸ Social Equity Action Working Group:

▸ Wrote and distributed “Inclusive Education: A Short Guide for RISD Faculty” (September 2016)

▸ Inclusive visual arts curriculum presentation by SEA members at PLAE (Practices for Liberatory Arts Education; Queens Museum, March 2017)

▸ Pursuing relationship with Brown Center for Slavery and Justice and Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Marks Project (2016 – )


Academic Programs, Curricular Initiatives and Pedagogy

▸ RISD Global Engagement for Curricular Development Fund (2015 – ):

▸ Funds faculty research to internationalize curriculum and foster cultural understanding

▸ 15+ funded projects to date (on printmaking in China, the role of women in collectives, the history of slavery, urban design in Tanzania, studio coursework address refugee communities in Jordan, and others)

▸ RISD Global Faculty Fellowship (2015 – ):

▸ Supports faculty research and practice dedicated to challenging canons of knowledge and making by engaging their work in a more diverse global framework. To date, the GFF has focused on critical translation in a global context (Avishek Ganguly), leading a global discourse on speculative futures (Paolo Cardini), and a project to engage with artists and designers across the continent and diasporas of Africa (Emanuel Admassu)

▸ Mapping Identities Faculty Development Initiative (2014 – )

▸ Partial funding for faculty and/or student programs or projects that explore the diverse identities at RISD

▸ 15 project/events funded to date (including Kindred exhibition/symposium, YouTube Diversity Panel, critique and safety workshops, and others)

▸ Added intercultural pedagogy resources (including grants, articles on inclusive pedagogy, and bibliographies) to Faculty + Teaching pages on the Academic Affairs website

▸ Syllabus guidelines encouraging inclusion of diversity/civility statements added to internal, non-public Academic Affairs webpage

▸ Faculty Congress on Diversity + Inclusion (2016)

▸ Research guides on Art + Activism, Art + Race, and LGBTQIA Artists + Writers developed by Fleet Library (2017)

▸ “You Are Your Work”: four-week Wintersession 2017 sequence of one-credit workshops around identity and creativity; each session included a visiting designer and roundtable made up of faculty, alumni and other guests followed by two days of intensive work; topics included Dynamics of Identity, Passionate Design, An Ethical Identity, and Politics of Identity

▸ Liberal Arts Division:

▸ New Masters programs in Global Arts and Cultures and Nature, Culture, and Sustainability Studies (approved, 2016)

▸ Rhode Island and the Re-Memory of Slavery (HPSS/Sculpture cross-listed course, 2017)

▸ New Literary Arts and Studies courses on Middle Eastern and North African Literature, Latin American Literature, and others (2017)

▸ HAVC Assistant/Associate Professor rank faculty searches in Islamic Art and Visual Culture and Latin American Art and Visual Culture.

▸ HPSS term faculty searches for 2017-18 in Chinese (or East Asian) History and American Race Relations and Government.


Recruitment, Hiring and Community Development

▸ Revised faculty search procedures increased focus on hiring faculty of color beginning in 2012:

▸ New recruitment strategies and targeted efforts from the Dean of the Faculty and Human Resources beginning 2014, including expanding advertising venues, training search committees, and evaluating applicants on cultural competency as a top form of excellence

▸ Results:

▸ Prior to 2012, our success rate around hiring faculty of color each year was very low or 0% and for female faculty in the 30th percentile

▸ By 2016, our hires of faculty of color were up to 33% and our hires of female faculty were up to 67%

▸ Diversity Search Plan requirement introduced: Search chair/hiring manager for all staff searches required to contact HR at semi-finalist stage before interview invitations extended to ensure diverse pool of candidates

▸ Review of Admissions processes around social and economic equity, including new gender pronoun options

▸ AICAD post graduate teaching fellowship

Health and Wellness

▸ Health Services: In-house, non-invasive, anonymous HIV testing being provided to students by appointment (used to be outsourced to AIDS project RI)

▸ CAPS Training and Professional Development: Therapists engaged in ongoing and consistent diversity and inclusion learning, including Columbia University’s 34th annual winter roundtable on Cultural Psychology and Education, entitled “From Ferguson to Flint: Multicultural Competencies for Community Based Trauma”

▸ Office of Disability Services: new staff position (Academic Disability Specialist) to support individual students on their academic plan and produce skills-based workshops

Student Financial Support

▸ Cumulative, annual increases in Financial Aid prioritized in current Strategic Plan

▸ $6 million raised to date in FY 2017 in endowed and immediate use scholarship funds

▸ Over $400,000 raised to date in FY 2017 for social equity funds (for Pre-College Scholarships, Materials and Travel Funds, Project Thrive, and Paid Internships):

▸ $75,000 raised to date in FY 2017 (with an additional $95,000 in pending requests) for Project Open Door

▸ RISD Parents’ Council Fine Arts Internship Award (stipends of $2,500 to support unpaid summer internship)

▸ Swipe-it-Forward program through RISD Dining provides meals for students in need of assistance (2016 – )

▸ RISD Flips – pairs students making donations with students in need of materials/clothing/household items; provides scholarship resources (2015 – )

Community Building and Outreach

▸ Annual Rev. Dr. MLK Jr. Series:

▸ Expanded Series (2016): Offering 1-2 speakers (outside of the honoree) whose practices are centered in social progress and/or DEI within higher education communities (past: Tim Wise, Peggy McIntosh, Faith Ringgold)

▸ Increased student involvement (2017): Global Initiative student group integrated into conceptual and logistical planning

▸ MLK Day of Service expanded to two Providence locations (2016): Mt. Hope Learning Center/MLK Elementary School and Dorcas International Institute

▸ MLK Honoree alumni: Designing projects with MLK Honoree alumni to bridge opportunities for academic/student learning that address diversity, social justice, and artistic interventions/solutions:

▸ Harry Belafonte and Belafonte Enterprises, Inc. (Sankofa)

▸ Marian Wright Edelman & Children’s Defense Fund

▸ Beginning conversations with 2017 honoree Emory Douglas

▸ Social Equity Action Working Group (2016):

▸ Summer safe space potlucks

▸ “RISD, Let’s talk about our community” poster campaign

▸ Monthly newsletters updating campus on DEI, responding to global events

▸ Office of Strategic Initiatives (new VP of SI, Brian Goldberg) working to build and strengthen relationships with various local organization. Enhanced relationships with:

▸ Local youth and community organizations such as those of PYAC (Providence Youth Arts Collaborative — New Urban Arts, CityArts!, AS220 Youth, etc.)

▸ Dorcas International Institute, via Office of Strategic Initiatives, CSI, and annual MLK Series

▸ RISDiversity Community Narratives book published (2016):

▸ Over 100 RISD faculty, student, staff, alumni participants

▸ Book proceeds go towards student financial support (to date over $2000 contributed to material funds from alumni sales; further promotional plans in development)

▸ New project, RISDiversity Disability, in development

▸ Articles focused on diversity in each “RISD At Work” newsletter

▸ Fleet Library:

▸ “Articulations of Difference” space (2016)

▸ “We are your library” campaign (2017)

▸ RISD Reads + Diversity Dialogues (2016)

Student Initiatives

▸ RISD’s ‘Eat the World’: Annual event showcasing the foods and cultures of RISD’s international students (produced by Global Initiative with substantial support from CSI, OISS, and RISD Dining)

▸ Black Artists and Designers’ “Not Your Token” Demonstrations

▸ “Room of Silence” and “Prepare Yourself” videos

▸ Ewing House safe space potlucks (summer 2016)

▸ Global Initiative MLK involvement, including -ISMS exhibition and programming

▸ Bias Response Walk-In (Quad Residence Halls, March 2017)

▸ New and pending, identity- and culture-based student clubs (2016 – 2017)

▸ Brown/RISD Vietnamese Students Association (VSA)

▸ Chinese Student and Scholar Association (RISD CSSA)

▸ CRUSH (student publication on identity)

▸ Hispanic and Latino Artists (HisLa)

▸ RISD Architecture Korean Association (RAKA)

▸ RISD Homegroup (RISD Homies, Christian practice group)

▸ RISD Thai Student Association (ThaiSA)

▸ United Muslim Artists and Designers (UMAD)

Events, Guests Critics / Lectures

▸ President’s funds to bring visiting artists, critics, speakers, and cultural theorists from historically underrepresented groups and/or whose work interrogates social inequity, power, and difference.

▸ Recent campus guests (Museum and College): Theaster Gates, Ambassador Andrew Young, Tim Wise, The Raqs Media Collective, Chitra Ganesh, Faith Ringgold, Jayson Scott Musson (aka Hennessy Youngman), Emory Douglas, Shahzia Sikander as Kirloskar Painting Fellow, Rick Lowe, Kara Walker, Art for Amnesty artists

▸ Several guests at department level, e.g., Sculpture:

▸ Rico Gatson, Tameka Norris, Sarah Sharp, C. Maxx Stevens in spring, and with the support of the Kyobo Fund other visiting artists include: Jackie Sumell, Nona Faustine, Ayanna V Jackson, Marissa Williamson

▸ “Double Takes” program at RISD Museum on history of slavery, Nesmin and imperialism/exhibition

▸ MLK Keynote (Emory Douglas): two-day event including critique of -isms show

Training Opportunities, Workshops and Performance Management

▸ Faculty + Staff:

▸ Cultural competence built into administrative core competencies and performance management as well as new faculty/staff orientation procedures

▸ RIHETC training programs (open to all) in DEI content (2015-16 Managing Unconscious Bias, Diversity and Inclusion fundamentals, Women in Leadership, Managing for Generations)

▸ Tim Wise in October 2015, bookclub on Tim Wise’s book, Spring semester 2016

▸ RISD Leader training with Kathy O’Bear, staff session and Cabinet session, February 2016

▸ Peggy McIntosh workshop, March 2016

▸ DEI Development Day (November 2016): drew 266 registered individuals participating in 18 sessions and 186 staff and faculty registered for lunch sessions

▸ Day-long workshop on Dismantling Racism in Museum Education and Museum Practices facilitated by Keonna Hendricks and Marit Dewhurst for Education, Exhibitions, and Programs staff at the Museum, January 2017

▸ Sculpture two-day collective liberation diversity/inclusion training for all full- and part-time faculty and friends of the department (led by Design Studio for Social Intervention), February 2017