Rhode Island School of Design

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD /ˈrɪzd/) is a private art and design school in Providence, Rhode Island. It was founded in 1877[3] and offers bachelor's and master's degree programs across 19 majors.

Rhode Island School of Design
Rhode Island School of Design seal.svg
TypePrivate art school
Endowment$349.7 million (2019)[1]
PresidentRosanne Somerson
Academic staff
181 full-time
421 part-time (2018-19)[2]
Students2,501 (2019-20)[2]
Undergraduates2,009 (2019-20)[2]
Postgraduates492 (2019-20)[2]
Location, ,
United States
13 acres (53,000 m2)
MascotScrotie (unofficial)
RISD short wordmark.svg


RISD's campus is located at the base of College Hill and contiguous with the Brown University campus. The two institutions, which share social, academic, and community resources, offer a joint degree program and students can cross register for classes.[4]

The RISD community includes 181 full-time and 421 part-time faculty members, and 2,009 undergraduate and 492 graduate students.[2] The school has nearly 30,000 alumni.[2]


Founding of the schoolEdit

The Venetian Renaissance Waterman Building (1893) was the first permanent home for the school

The Centennial Women[5] were a group formed to raise funds for a separate Women's Pavilion showcasing women's work at the 1876 Centennial Exposition.[6] In a little over a year the RI women raised over $10,000 with spectacles such as: a recreation of the burning of the Gaspee that drew a crowd of 9,000, the writing and publication of a monthly newspaper, Herald of the Century, and an art exhibition. The Women's Pavilion at the 1876 Centennial successfully highlighted women's "economic right to self-sufficiency" and included exhibits from recently founded design schools, displays of new patents by women entrepreneurs, and a library containing only books written by women. The Rhode Island Centennial Women submitted their newspaper, Herald of the Century, to this Women's Pavilion's library.

At the end of the World's Fair, the RI Centennial Women had $1,675 left over and spent some time negotiating how best to memorialize their achievements.[6] Helen Adelia Rowe Metcalf proposed that the group donate the money to found what would become Rhode Island School of Design, and this option was chosen by a majority of the women on January 11, 1877. The school was incorporated on March 22, 1877[7] and opened its doors the following fall at the Hoppin Homestead in downtown Providence, RI.[8] Metcalf directed the school until her death in 1895. Her daughter, Eliza Greene Metcalf Radeke, then took over until her death in 1931.[9]

The 1885 Dr. George W. Carr House houses a student cafe and lounge

The Rhode Island General Assembly ratified "An Act to Incorporate the Rhode Island School of Design" on March 22, 1877, "[f]or the purpose of aiding in the cultivation of the arts of design". Over the next 129 years, the following original by-laws set forth these following primary objectives:

The Rhode Island Hospital Trust Building houses dormitories and the school's Fleet Library
  1. The instruction of artisans in drawing, painting, modeling, and designing, that they may successfully apply the principles of Art to the requirements of trade and manufacture.
  2. The systematic training of students in the practice of Art, in order that they may understand its principles, give instruction to others, or become artists.
  3. The general advancement of public Art Education, by the exhibition of works of Art and of Art school studies, and by lectures on Art.


After the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent closure of the RISD campus in March 2020,[10] RISD suggested a future of a hybrid of classes online and in-person.[11]

In July 2020, President Somerson began negotiations with the RISD faculty union over the avoidance of possible layoffs by suggesting cost-cutting measures.[12] The part-time faculty union, the National Education Association rejected the initial proposal.[12]


Rosanne Somerson 2015–present
John Maeda 2008–2013
E. Roger Mandle 1993–2008
Louis A. Fazzano 1992–1993 (interim president)
Thomas F. Schutte 1983–1992
Lee Hall 1976–1983
Talbot Rantoul 1969–1976
Donald M. Lay, Jr. 1968–1969 (interim president)
Albert Bush-Brown 1962–1968
John R. Frazier 1955–1962
Max W. Sullivan 1947–1955
Helen Metcalf Danforth 1931–1947
Eliza Greene Metcalf Radeke 1913–1931
Isaac Comstock Bates 1907–1913
William Carey Poland 1896–1907
Herbert Warren Ladd 1891–1896
Alfred Henry Littlefield June 11–27, 1890 (resigned)
Royal Chapin Taft 1888–1890
Claudius Buchanan Farnsworth 1877–1888


In 2014, U.S. News & World Report ranked RISD first amongst Fine Arts programs.[13] In 2019 RISD was ranked 4th by the QS World University Rankings amongst Art & Design programs.[14] Its undergraduate architecture program ranked 6 in DesignIntelligence's ranking of the Top Architecture Schools in the US for 2019.[15] In 2018, the institution was also named among Forbes’ America's Top Colleges[16] and the Chronicle of Higher Education's Top Producers of US Fulbright Scholars.[17]

RISD MuseumEdit

The RISD Museum houses the school's collections of art
The Chace Center contains both exhibition and studio space

The RISD Museum was founded in 1877 on the belief that art, artists, and the institutions that support them play pivotal roles in promoting broad civic engagement and creating more open societies. The RISD Museum stewards works of art representing cultures from ancient times to the present from around the globe.


RISD has many athletic clubs and teams.[18] As might be considered fitting for an arts school, the symbolism used for the teams is unique. The hockey team is called the "Nads", and their cheer is "Go Nads!"[19] The logo for the Nads features a horizontal hockey stick with two non-descript circles at the end of the stick's handle.

The basketball team is known simply as the "Balls", and their slogan is, "When the heat is on, the Balls stick together."[19][20] The Balls' logo consists of two balls next to one another in an irregularly shaped net.[21]

Lest the sexual innuendo of these team names and logos be lost or dismissed, the 2001 creation of the school's mascot, Scrotie, ended any ambiguity. Despite the name, Scrotie is not merely a representation of a scrotum, but is a 7-foot tall penis,[22] with scrotum and testes at the bottom.[23] In 2016, the school reported that the 2009 incarnation of the mascot had been deemed not appropriate for younger fans, and so the mascot would return to its earlier, "more cartoonish" appearance.[24]

RISDmade & RISD CraftEdit

Goods by RISD makers and designers can be found on RISDmade, an online marketplace of alumni-produced products,[25] and at RISD Craft, a juried sale held each October in Providence.[26]

Notable alumniEdit

Notable facultyEdit


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2019. "U.S. and Canadian 2019 NTSE Participating Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2019 Endowment Market Value, and Percentage Change in Market Value from FY18 to FY19 (Revised)". National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "About". Rhode Island School of Design. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  3. ^ "RHODE ISLAND SCHOOL OF DESIGN". Supply Rhode Island.
  4. ^ "RISD + Brown".
  5. ^ Austin, Nancy. "Towards a Genealogy of Visual Culture at the Rhode Island School of Design, 1875–1900". Dissertation, Brown University. Ann Arbor: ProQuest/UMI, 2009. (Publication No. 3370099.)
  6. ^ a b Austin, Nancy. "What a Beginning is Worth". Infinite Radius. Ed. Dawn Barrett and Andrew Martinez. (Providence: Rhode Island School of Design, 2008) 170–196.
  7. ^ Austin, Nancy. "No Honors to Divide". Infinite Radius. Ed. Dawn Barrett and Andrew Martinez. (Providence: Rhode Island School of Design, 2008) 197–217.
  8. ^ Austin, Nancy. "A Place for Design: RISD at the Hoppin Homestead, 1878–1893". Towards a Genealogy of Visual Culture at the Rhode Island School of Design, 1875–1900. Dissertation, Brown University. Ann Arbor: ProQuest/UMI, 2009. (Publication No. 3370099.)
  9. ^ Kirk, Laura Meade (2004-03-21). "From bonnets to baccalaureates". The Providence Journal. Retrieved 2007-10-17.
  10. ^ Borg, Linda (March 16, 2020). "RISD becoming blank canvas as students leave". ProvidenceJournal.com. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  11. ^ Borg, Linda (June 16, 2020). "RISD plans hybrid of in-person and online instruction". ProvidenceJournal.com. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  12. ^ a b Borg, Linda (July 1, 2020). "RISD president: 'We are continuing to have conversations to avoid layoffs'". ProvidenceJournal.com. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  13. ^ "Rhode Island School of Design | RISD | Best College | US News". Colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com. Retrieved 2015-03-06.
  14. ^ "QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019 - Art & Design". QS World University Rankings. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  15. ^ "The Best Architecture Schools in the U.S. 2019". 3 September 2016.
  16. ^ "Forbes - America's Top Colleges".
  17. ^ "Brown, RISD again among top Fulbright producers". Providence Business News. February 21, 2018.
  18. ^ "RISD Clubs and Organizations".
  19. ^ a b "10 Weirdest College Mascots - RISD mascot, university mascot".
  20. ^ Zeigler, Cyd (11 July 2012). "Rhode Island School of Design students love their Nads and Balls". Outsports.
  21. ^ Molinari, Jessica. "Scrotie The Penis & More Wacky College Mascots". Bustle.
  22. ^ "The Story Of Scrotie, The College Sports Mascot Who Was A Dick And Balls". 22 September 2016.
  23. ^ "Scrotie Responds to Hands-on Attention". www.risd.edu.
  24. ^ "A Costume Change for Scrotie". Our RISD.
  25. ^ Keller, Hadley (2018-01-12). "RISDmade, a New Way to Shop From the World's Most Talented Makers and Designers". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
  26. ^ Olson, Katy B. (2018-01-11). "Have you shopped RISD's new maker shop?". JSN Global Media. Retrieved 2018-01-12.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 41°49′33″N 71°24′28″W / 41.82583°N 71.40778°W / 41.82583; -71.40778