Rhode Island School of Design — Provost

An invitation to apply for the position of Provost
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
Providence, Rhode Island

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) seeks an experienced, creative, and collaborative individual to serve as its next provost. As a relatively small, elite school that plays an inordinately large role in the spheres of art and design—at the very moment when art, design, and creative thinking are ascending as essential methodologies for shaping livable futures—RISD takes seriously its responsibility to nurture a new generation of serious-minded, creative, inspired leaders. The challenges we face as humans living on earth are myriad and momentous, and our intertwined social, environmental, cultural, technological, and humanitarian crises require inspiration, creativity, and real vision to contend with. The next provost must understand the urgency, accept the responsibility, and embrace the potential to unify the RISD community, enact change, and imagine the college’s role in creating a more just, fair, and sustainable society.

Art schools are different from other institutions of higher education, and RISD is different from most art schools. RISD remains deeply committed to visuality, materiality, and craft at a time obsessed with virtuality, dematerialization, and mediation. The college has one of the largest, most wide-ranging liberal arts programs of any art school in the world, vastly enlarged by cross-registration with Brown University next door, as well as a robust, active, vocal full-time and part-time faculty of dedicated innovators, makers, and thinkers. It has the third largest academic art museum in the nation and an urban campus comprising a constellation of studios, shops, labs, foundries, looms, kilns, wood fabrication facilities, and cutting-edge digital fabrication resources. Bolstering this, RISD is located in proximity to, but not in the shadow of, what are arguably the academic (Boston) and creative (New York) epicenters of the country.

As the chief academic officer for the college, the provost will set a vision for academic affairs and lead a team in advancing change initiatives within RISD’s complex, deeply matrixed academic environment. The provost will need to think structurally about the current configuration of the college; create systems and policies that robustly advance faculty development at a time when conceptions of what constitutes knowledge and how it can be shared are in meaningful flux; advance meaningfully interdisciplinary work that is often increasingly oriented toward the ongoing effects of colonial histories, ecological devastation, and economic injustice; and support ongoing anti-racist initiatives, the development of new research activity, and new strategic partnerships. The provost will lead the college’s efforts in recruiting, developing, retaining, and, crucially, diversifying the faculty along a variety of lines of difference. In all this work, the provost will champion and advance the core values of the institution, as they are defined in the strategic plan. 

The provost will report directly to the president and serve on the President’s Cabinet. The successful candidate will have a deeply rooted commitment to the full scope of programs and partnerships that are offered at RISD, a proven ability to work collaboratively with faculty, and a record of success in advancing social equity and inclusion in faculty, academic, and curricular matters. This leader will be capable of enhancing RISD’s capacity to be responsive to the realities of climate change, both as an institutional entity and within the curriculum. Therefore, beyond the need for deep experience, education, and wisdom, the role of the provost requires receptivity, an aesthetic sensibility, the skill to communicate in spoken and written word to a community that trades in images and materials, a data-informed approach to strategic decision-making, and something even more: a deep, abiding empathy that can bind us all together.

RISD has retained Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm, to assist in the recruitment of its next provost. Please direct all applications, nominations, and inquiries in confidence to Isaacson, Miller through the firm’s website: www.imsearch.com/8595.

Rhode Island School of Design is an equal employment institution.

RISD is looking for equity-minded applicants who represent the full diversity of the globe and who demonstrate a sensitivity to and understanding of the diverse academic, socioeconomic, cultural, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, and ethnic backgrounds present in their community. When you join the team at RISD, you can expect to be part of an inclusive, innovative, and equity-focused community that approaches higher education as a matter of social justice that requires broad collaboration among faculty, staff, students, and community partners. In deciding whether to apply for a position at RISD, you are strongly encouraged to consider whether your values align with their Mission + Values, SEI Accountability Commitments, and Strategic Plan.

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