The Rhode Island School of Design has selected Interim President Rosanne Somerson to takeover the position permanently. The RISD Board announced the decision to faculty and students on Wednesday morning.
“President Somerson is a gifted, inspiring leader with great integrity, humility and vision, and is the perfect fit for RISD,” said Board of Trustees Chair Michael Spalter in the official announcement.
Somerson, who has been acting president since John Maeda left the post abruptly in December 2013, will be RISD's 17th president. She has a long history at the prominent art institution. Somerson received a BFA from RISD in 1976, then returned in the mid-1980's to teach furniture design.
After she was named provost in 2012, Somerson helped create a new strategic plan for RISD. In 2013, she co-edited The Art of Critical Making: Rhode Island School of Design on Creative Practice, a book exploring RISD's approach to teaching and critical thinking.
“I am honored to lead this institution," Somerson said in accepting the appointment as President. "I know firsthand the value of an art and design education, and am confident that RISD’s model of immersive, studio-based learning has greater global impact and is more important and vital than ever.”
Somerson's predecessor, John Maeda, was unpopular with many RISD faculty. He stepped down for a position at a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley.
RISD officials say Somerson was chosen after a nine-month international search.