September 13, 2017

Academic leaders

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Left to right, top to bottom: Robert Brinkerhoff, Tracie Costantino and Scheri Fultineer, Joanne Stryker, Pradeep Sharma and Daniel Cavicchi, Damian White, Maggie Balch and Lareese Hall. Photos courtesy of RISD.

Rhode Island School of Design announces new academic leaders who will catalyze the school’s academic vision to explore the role and significance of art and design in the world to foster a culture of research, experimentation, and shared humanity.

Professor Tracie Costantino, Associate Provost and Dean of Faculty, is responsible for facilitating the praxis of teaching and learning across the College, academic advising, academic program review, and faculty recruitment and development. Costantino will directly oversee the graduate Department of Teaching and Learning in Art and Design, a shift intended to enhance the department’s profile and build new programs in teaching and learning dedicated for RISD’s faculty and graduate students interested in collegiate teaching. Costantino joined RISD from the University of Georgia where she was a faculty member in art teacher education for nine years and researcher on the nature of cognition in the arts, creativity, and the transformative educational potential of aesthetic experience.

Professor Daniel Cavicchi, Associate Provost for Research|Global|Practice, will provide strategic leadership to externally-engaged academic initiatives. He will steward the school’s effort to enhance its culture of inquiry, including development of new research labs and both local and global partnerships. As he explains, “We have an opportunity to extend our deep disciplinary knowledge outward, to radically experiment on how research with multiple participants—rather than solely on topics--might transform learning.” Cavicchi, former Dean of Liberal Arts, is author of several books on audience studies; he has worked as a curator, editor, and consultant and created RISD’s Witness Tree Project, a history and design curriculum with the National Park Service.

Also thinking about cross-departmental synergies is Lareese Hall, RISD’s Dean of Libraries, appointed last year to help extend the potential of RISD’s extraordinary collections and academic support, including Fleet Library at RISD, the Edna Lawrence Nature Lab, the Writing Center, and Campus Exhibitions. Previously a librarian at MIT, with more than a decade in the non-profit sector, Hall brings a breadth of vision to her work.

Three new deans will lead the school’s academic divisions. Professor Robert Brinkerhoff, Dean of Fine Arts, was former Head of the Department of Illustration. As someone with an active studio practice and international reputation as a teacher, he has led major projects including 2015’s "Illustrator as Public Intellectual" symposium and the historic renovation of RISD’s Illustration Studies Building.

Professor Scheri Fultineer, Dean of Architecture and Design, was former Head of the Department of Landscape Architecture. With an education that includes degrees in drawing and printmaking, as well as theological studies, Fultineer has done innovative work in shellfish habitat restoration along Providence's waterfront and established Landscape Architecture’s unique programmatic focus on ecology, culture, and systems.

Professor Damian White, Dean of Liberal Arts, was former head of the Department of History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences. A pioneering theorist and author in critical design studies and environmental sociology, he launched RISD’s interdisciplinary degree concentration in Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies in 2012.

Professor Joanne Stryker, Dean of Experimental & Foundation Studies will now oversee two new undergraduate degree concentrations--in Computation, Technology, and Culture and Drawing, as well as the graduate degree in Digital + Media. Stryker’s professional work explores two-dimensional interpretations of three-dimensional form, exploiting the interplay between various modes of perception and creating intricate still-lifes outside the confines of time, place or historical context.

Dean of Student Affairs Maggie Balch, in addition to cultivating student development, has actively facilitated new opportunities for student community engagement and service-based learning. In particular, she has ensured that programming and services reflect the values of community, equity, inclusiveness, responsibility, and well-being, all of which poise students for sustained leadership and advocacy in their professions.

Professor and Provost Pradeep Sharma says, “Working together with faculty, students, and staff, this leadership team will provide a robust platform for the creatives of the future.”

To learn more about Rhode Island School of Design, visit and

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