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RISD Inaugurates 17th President Roseanne Somerson

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The Rhode Island School of Design inaugurates Roseanne Somerson Friday during outdoor ceremony in Providence. Somerson took over as interim president...

The Rhode Island School of Design inaugurates Roseanne Somerson Friday during outdoor ceremony in Providence. Somerson took over as interim president following the abrupt departure of former President John Maeda in 2013.

Somerson began at RISD, as a photography major in 1971. She returned to RISD, and helped create the school’s first undergraduate furniture design program.

“I never expected to be president of RISD,” said Somerson. “It’s such an honor, and such an opportunity, because I think art and design is being understood by more people in the world in much more significant ways.”

Somerson says keeping costs of the private art school down, and affordable, stands to be her biggest challenge.

The inauguration ceremony also kicks off RISD’s annual “By Design” week. Somerson said the week offers an opportunity to open the school up to the public.

“A number of faculty artworks will be featured throughout the campus,” said Somerson. “The museum has agreed to be open for free from the 6th-11th. And there will be certain classrooms and areas of the college that will be open, so that we can really open our doors.”

Somerson worked in the school’s furniture design program, and served as provost before assuming the top office.

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RISD President Roseanne Somerson
RISD President Roseanne Somerson