Roger Williams University

Roger Williams University (RWU) is a private liberal arts university in Bristol, Rhode Island. Founded in 1956, it was named for theologian and Rhode Island cofounder Roger Williams. The school enrolls over 5,000 students and employs over 480 academic staff.

Roger Williams University
RWU Logo
MottoMagna Est Veritas
TypePrivate university
Endowment$79.2 million (2016)[1]
PresidentDr. Ioannis Miaoulis
Academic staff
489 (207 full-time, 282 part-time, 205 tenured or tenure-track)
Administrative staff
165 (full-time, as of 2011),[2] 3,578 total employees (as of 2014)[3]
Students4,416 undergraduate, 741 graduate[4]
Location, ,
United States

41°38′58″N 71°15′38″W / 41.64944°N 71.26056°W / 41.64944; -71.26056Coordinates: 41°38′58″N 71°15′38″W / 41.64944°N 71.26056°W / 41.64944; -71.26056
CampusSuburban, 140 waterfront acres
ColorsRoyal Blue, Gold, & White
Statue of Roger Williams at Roger Williams University, Bristol, Rhode Island.jpg


The university’s operations date to 1919, when Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, opened a branch campus in the YMCA building in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1940, the YMCA Board of Directors began directing the school, and the YMCA Institute granted its first associate's degrees in 1948. In 1956, the Institute received a state charter to become a two-year, degree-granting institution under the name of Roger Williams Junior College.

During the 1960s, Roger Williams College began granting bachelor’s degrees. Needing a larger campus, the college purchased 80 acres (32 ha) of waterfront land and moved its main campus to Bristol in 1969. (RWU continues to operate a branch campus in Providence.) In 1989 new president Dr. Natale A. Sicuro initiated the Roger Williams Plan for the 90s, and became concurrently the president of the newly established Roger Williams School of Law and, in 1992, led the name change of Roger Williams College to Roger Williams University. RWU celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2006.[5]

Donald J. Farish was appointed the tenth president of Roger Williams University on March 29, 2011.[6] He served until his death on July 5, 2018.

In 2012, Roger Williams University initiated a tuition freeze in which all entering freshmen would have a guarantee that their tuition would not increase for the next four years. The university renewed this promise for all freshmen entering in fall of 2015.[7] As a result of this program, enrollment at the university has been steadily increasing, while enrollment at many peer institutions has been decreasing.[8]


Roger Williams University enrolls approximately 3,800 undergraduate and 850 graduate students in eight schools. These schools offer more than 50 liberal arts majors and professional degrees, such as law, architecture, construction management, and historic preservation. The university has a student to faculty ratio of 15:1 while almost half of the classes offered have less than 20 students.[9]

The largest majors are business, management, and marketing (24%); architecture (10%); security, law enforcement, and related protective services (9%); communication and journalism (8%); and psychology (7%).[10]

Roger Williams University has several degree programs that are unique:

  • Marine Biology program: offers a B.S. in Marine Biology, which is one of about fifteen in the country.[11]
  • Architecture program: One of a few M. Arch. (Master’s of Architecture) in a traditional liberal arts environment.[12] The program is the only one of its kind in which architects from leading firms across the country give lectures, critique student work, and bring a professional perspective into the classroom.[13]
  • Historic Preservation program: the B.S. in Historic Preservation is one of seven offered in the country and the M.S. in Historic Preservation is one of about 35 offered in the country.[14]
  • Construction Management program: offers a B.S. in Construction Management (CM). RWU's CM majors automatically get a minor in Business. CM program offers one of the top construction degrees in the country as RWU CM students consistently place in top 3 among their peers in regional and national student competitions. Most of these competitions are organized by the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) and the Design Build Institute of America (DBIA). RWU Construction Management program is accredited by the American Council for Construction Education (ACCE) and a member of ASC's Northeast Region (Region 1).
  • Law program: Only Juris Doctor available in Rhode Island; offers a Master of Studies in Law (MSL).
School of Art, Architecture, and Historic Preservation

In 2012, the School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation initiated a technology pilot program which led to a partnership with Samsung in the fall of 2013 to install 27-inch touchscreen monitors in classrooms across the university linked to a cloud computing network.[15]

Student lifeEdit

Approximately 63% of students live on campus.[16] 88% of the students attend school full-time. About 14% have a family income of less than $40k. 75% of the student population is white, 5% is Hispanic, and 2% is African American; less than 1% of the students are from other races or ethnicities.[10]

The university's campus newspaper, The Hawks' Herald,[17] publishes approximately 20 issues per academic year. An FM radio station, WQRI 88.3, plays everything from college alternative to hip hop. The college's 20 varsity athletic teams play at the Division III level as members of the Commonwealth Coast Conference.

In 2012, Roger Williams University was named as one of the best colleges for food.[18]


Roger Williams University teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III. Most of the Hawks are a member of the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), except for the swimming and diving team, who compete in the New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association (NEISDA). Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, lacrosse, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field and wrestling; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, football, track & field and volleyball. Other sports include indoor track and field, arm wrestling, sailing, and an equestrian team.

Reputation and campus cultureEdit

Left to right: University Library; Global Heritage Hall; Gabelli School of Business.

Roger Williams University has been ranked by US News and World Report in the top 25% of regional universities in the northern region of the United States[9] Forbes ranks Roger Williams University as 412 (out of 650) overall in the United States, 288 out of all private colleges, and 149 in the Northeast.[19]

According to the US Government’s College Scorecard, 83% of students return after their first year while the 6-year graduation rate is 62% (both figures are above average). The median earnings of students, 10 years after graduation is $47,200, which is above average.[10]

The university established a program in civil discourse, including the journal Reason and Respect, which brought in speakers such as Salman Rushdie, David Gergen, First Minister and Nobel Prize–winner David Trimble, Khaled Hosseini, author of Kite Runner, Bob Geldof of Live Aid, and others to campus. The university has established campuses in London and Florence; collaborates with sister institutions in France, Brazil, Vietnam, and Hong Kong; features a broad portfolio of study-abroad opportunities encompassing over 30 countries; and is home to a Center for Macro Projects and Diplomacy, which brings together engineering, architecture, technology, economic development, and international relations for a common purpose. Furthermore, it was recently recognized as a non-governmental member of the United Nations.

In January 2009, a group of Communication majors worked to create a catalog of video vignettes on sustainability issues; a portion of that work appeared on the PBS special Planet Forward.[20] One of those students, Kyle Toomey, also appeared on the Planet Forward special, which aired on April 15, 2009.[20]

According to the university's newspaper The Hawks' Herald, in 2010 the university's debt decreased, "As of Aug. 31, RWU owed over $146 million in bonds outstanding; this figure reflects a slight decrease in university debt compared to the previous year's figure of over $150 million in bonds owed."[21]

Notable faculty members and alumniEdit


  1. ^ "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2016 Market Value of Endow" (PDF). NACUBO. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 2, 2017. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  2. ^ "U.S. College Staffing Changes". WGBH. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  3. ^ "GuideStar Report Generated For: Roger Williams University & Roger Williams College of Law". Guidestar. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  4. ^ "Fast Facts". Roger Williams University. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  5. ^ "History & Traditions". Roger Williams University. Archived from the original on December 27, 2007. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  6. ^ "Donald J. Farish Appointed 10th President of RWU". (Press release). Roger Williams University. May 21, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  7. ^ "Affordable Excellence". Roger Williams University. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  8. ^ "Roger Williams University grows enrollment by freezing tuition". Providence Journal. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  9. ^ a b "Roger Williams University". US News and World Report. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  10. ^ a b c "Roger Williams University". College Scorecard. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  11. ^ "Marine Biology Web". Stonybrook University. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  12. ^ "NAAB schools". National Architectural Accrediting Board. Archived from the original on March 12, 2016. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  13. ^ "Roger's Revolution: Experiential Education Series #2". Roger Williams University. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  14. ^ "NCPE Academic Programs". National Council for Preservation Education. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  15. ^ "Roger Williams University Leverages SAMSUNG Technologies". Samsung USA. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  16. ^ "Fast Facts". Roger Williams University. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  17. ^ "The Hawks' Herald". Roger Williams University.
  18. ^ "Brown, Roger Williams Named Best Colleges for Food". GoLocal Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  19. ^ "America's Best Colleges". Forbes. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  20. ^ a b "Providence Journal | Rhode Island news, sports, weather & more - Providence Journal". August 20, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  21. ^ Whitmore, Ben (October 6, 2010). "Champagne calls for more sustainable fundraising". The Hawks' Herald. Bristol, RI. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  22. ^ "Samsung Electronics U.S. Executive Bios - Samsung US Newsroom". November 20, 2015. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  23. ^ "Jerry Remy Baseball Stats by Baseball Almanac". Retrieved August 24, 2012.

External linksEdit