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Rhode Island School of Design

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD /ˈrɪzd/) is a fine arts and design college located in Providence, in the U.S. state of Rhode Island. It has consistently been ranked among the best educational institutions in the world for art and design.[3][4][5][6][7]

Rhode Island School of Design
Rhode Island School of Design seal.svg
TypePrivate art school
Endowment$328.3 million[1]
PresidentRosanne Somerson
Academic staff
146 full-time
336 part-time
United States
13 acres (53,000 m²)
Acceptance rate21%[2]
MascotScrotie (unofficial)

Founded in 1877, it is located at the base of College Hill; the RISD campus is contiguous with the Brown University campus. The two institutions share social, academic, and community resources and offer joint courses. Applicants to RISD are required to complete RISD's two-drawing "hometest".[citation needed]

It includes, on the Fall 2015 term, about 470 faculty and curators, and 400 staff members. About 2,014 undergraduates and 467 graduate students enroll from all over the United States and 57 other countries. It offers 16 undergraduate majors and 17 graduate majors. RISD is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), a consortium of thirty-six leading art schools in the United States. It also maintains over 80,000 works of art in the RISD Museum.



Museum of Art
RISD Memorial Hall

The Centennial Women[8] were a group formed to raise funds for a separate Women's Pavilion showcasing women's work at the 1876 Centennial Exposition.[9] 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 9000, 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.

RISD auditorium
RISD Store

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.[9] Helen Adelia Rowe Metcalf proposed that the group donate the money to found what would become the Rhode Island School of Design, and this option was chosen by a majority of the women on January 11, 1877. The school was incorporated in March 1877[10] and opened its doors the following fall at the Hoppin Homestead in downtown Providence, RI.[11] Metcalf directed the school until her death in 1895. Her daughter, Eliza Greene Metcalf Radeke, then took over until her death in 1931.[12]

RISD College Building

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:

  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.

Programs of studyEdit


Design Center

RISD is annually ranked as a top art and design school in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranked RISD first amongst Fine Arts programs, above Yale University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.[13] In 2015 and 2016 RISD was ranked 3rd by the QS World University Rankings amongst Art & Design programs.[14] Within subdivisions of Fine Arts, the school was ranked 1st in graphic design, printmaking and industrial design; 2nd in painting; and 3rd in ceramics and photography.[15][7] The RISD film program was also ranked 5th in USA Today’s 10 Best Schools for Pursuing a Film Degree.[16] Its undergraduate architecture program ranked 7 in DesignIntelligence's ranking of the Top Architecture Schools in the US for 2017.[17]


Concentrations at RISD do not confer a degree; they act like minors at other education institutions and require courses in the chosen field.

Liberal arts concentrationsEdit

Interdisciplinary concentrationsEdit

  • Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies (NCSS)
  • Computation, Technology and Culture (CTC)
  • Drawing[19]

RISD MuseumEdit

The RISD Museum houses a collection of fine and decorative art objects. The first public galleries opened in 1893.

RISD SportsEdit

RISD has teams in two sports, hockey and basketball. As might be considered befitting 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!"[20] 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."[21][22] The Balls' logo consists of two balls next to one another in an irregularly shaped net.[23]

Lest the sexual message of these teams and logos be lost, the 2001 creation of the school mascot, Scrotie, ended any ambiguity. Despite the name, Scrotie is not merely a representation of a scrotum, but is a 7-foot tall penis,[24] with scrotum and testes at the bottom. RISD has stated that Scrotie is only an "unofficial" mascot, yet Scrotie is featured prominently on the school's official website.[25] 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.[26]

Past presidentsEdit

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

Fleet LibraryEdit

Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon 2015 at the Fleet Library

Founded in 1878, the RISD Library is one of the oldest independent art college libraries in the country. Its more than 145,000 volumes and 380 periodical subscriptions offer unusual depth and richness in the areas of architecture, art, design and photography. The collection provides strong historical and contemporary perspectives, and materials in landscape architecture, ceramics, textiles, and jewelry support upper-level research. The library is also noted for its artist’s book collection, its rare books and outstanding visual resources collections. The school collection includes the archive of American book artist Ruth Laxson[27]

A nationally award-winning example of adaptive reuse, this 55,000-sf renovated bank building and second floor houses 130,000 books, 685,000 image and sound holdings, and 1,200 artists books.

Students also have access to Brown University libraries and the Providence Athenaeum.

Nature LabEdit

Edna W. Lawrence founded the Nature Lab[28] at Rhode Island School of Design in 1937. Lawrence graduated from RISD in 1920 and began teaching at RISD in 1922.[29] The Nature Lab is a collection of plant, bird, marine, and animal specimens, many of which circulate to RISD students and faculty for use in their studios. The Arthur Loeb Science Design collection is housed in the Nature Lab and includes three-dimensional geometric models and two-dimensional patterns found in the natural world.

XYZ MagazineEdit

XYZ Magazine is RISD's primary print publication by and about the school's alumni. It was first published in May 2010, replacing the college’s original magazine, risd views (1995–2009). The magazine encourages the participation of its alumni with the mission "to keep readers informed about the people, projects and passions that make RISD’s creative community so special." The magazine is published twice a year.[30]


RISDmade is an online marketplace of alumni-produced products.[31][32] There are around 100 alumni's work featured on the curated website, and a two month long application process in order to sell with RISDmade.[32] The school also holds a juried alumni sale called RISD Craft, which complements RISDmade.[31]

Notable alumniEdit

Notable current and past facultyEdit

Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts recipientsEdit

* Commencement speaker

  • Beatrice (Oenslager) Chace


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2014. "Rhode Island School of Design Consolidated Financial Statements June 30, 2014 and 2013" (PDF). Rhode Island School of Design. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 7, 2015. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  2. ^ "RISD acceptance rate - Google Search".
  3. ^ "The World's 25 Best Design Schools", Business Insider, retrieved 2015-03-06
  4. ^ "Top 10 Art Universities and Schools in the United States", Education Portal, retrieved 2015-03-06
  5. ^ "Best Fine Arts Program", US News, retrieved 2015-03-06
  6. ^ "Rhode Island School of Design", Britannica, retrieved 2015-03-06
  7. ^ a b "QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016 – Art & Design". Top Universities. QS Quacquarelli Symonds. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  8. ^ 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.)
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Austin, Nancy. “No Honors to Divide”. Infinite Radius. Ed. Dawn Barrett and Andrew Martinez. (Providence: Rhode Island School of Design, 2008) 197–217.
  11. ^ 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.)
  12. ^ Kirk, Laura Meade (2004-03-21). "From bonnets to baccalaureates". The Providence Journal. Retrieved 2007-10-17.
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  15. ^ "Rhode Island School of Design | Overall Rankings | Best College | US News". Retrieved 2015-03-06.
  16. ^ "The 10 best U.S. schools for pursuing a film degree". USA TODAY College. 2017-03-10. Retrieved 2017-05-31.
  17. ^ "The Best Architecture Schools in the U.S. 2017". 3 September 2016.
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  31. ^ a b Olson, Katy B. (2018-01-11). "Have you shopped RISD's new maker shop?". Editor At Large. JSN Global Media. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
  32. ^ a b 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.
  33. ^ "RISD Commencement 2017". Rhode Island School of Design. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  34. ^ "RISD Commencement 2017". Rhode Island School of Design.
  35. ^ "Writer Hilton Als to Deliver Keynote Address at Rhode Island School of Design's 2016 Commencement". RISD website. Rhode Island School of Design. Retrieved 4 June 2017.[dead link]
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External linksEdit