Crystal Williams Will Be the Eighteenth President of the Rhode Island School of Design

The board of trustees of the Rhode Island School of Design has announced the appointment of Crystal Williams as the institution’s eighteenth president, effective April 1, 2022.

The Rhode Island School of Design, in the city of Providence, enrolls more than 1,700 undergraduate students and nearly 500 graduate students, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Education. African Americans make up just 4 percent of the undergraduate student body.

“I entered this search because I believe in the value of art and design to elevate and amplify the human experience, and to narrate who we have been and who we can become,” notes Williams. “Art, education, and equity and justice are the three foundational focuses of my life and everything about me — who I am as a teacher, a writer, a leader, friend, daughter, and human — are in accord with RISD’s mission, areas of focus and social equity and inclusion goals. Having the opportunity to serve as RISD’s president, to sustain and build on RISD’s core strengths and work on behalf of its extraordinary students, faculty, staff, and alumni is a profound honor.”

Williams has been serving as a professor of English and vice president and associate provost for community & inclusion at Boston University. She began her academic career at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. She later served as associate vice president for strategic initiatives at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

Professor Williams holds a bachelor’s degree from New York University and a master of fine arts degree from Cornell University. She has published four collections of poetry including Detroit as Barn (Lost Horse Press, 2014), which was a finalist for the National Poetry Series, the Maine Book Award, and the Cleveland State Open Book Prize.


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