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Announcement
October 5, 2022

Inauguration of 18th President Crystal Williams

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Rhode Island School of Design President Crystal Williams. Photo: Jo Sittenfeld.

Weekend highlights to include the investiture ceremony, a symposium, the RISD Craft art sale, open studios, free admission to the RISD Museum and more.

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) will celebrate the inauguration of Crystal Williams as the institution’s 18th president October 7–8, 2022 beginning with an investiture ceremony followed by a series of public events and panels exploring the concept of new spaces in art, design, history, pedagogy, social justice and community. All events, which will take place across the RISD campus in Providence, RI, are free and open to the public with a ticket required for some. Details, including a schedule of events and information on how to register, can be found here.

A teacher, leader, advocate and poet, President Williams believes that education, art and design, and commitments to equity and justice are essential to transforming our society. She was named president by RISD’s Board of Trustees on December 16, 2021 following an extensive international search. After considering more than 100 candidates from around the globe, the 15-member search committee, which included RISD faculty, staff, alumni, parents and trustees, and an 11-member student advisory council, unanimously recommended that Williams become RISD’s next leader. She took office on April 1, 2022.

“President Williams brings to RISD the expertise and passion to educate and inspire artists, designers and scholars for a rapidly changing future, and the global vision to guide our community in helping to create a more just, fair and sustainable society,” notes RISD Board of Trustees Chair Michael Spalter. “As we celebrate her investiture as the 18th president, we look with joy and excitement to a future of unlimited possibility and promise.”

The investiture ceremony will take place on Friday, October 7 from 10–11:30am under a tent at 220 South Water Street. Featured speakers include acclaimed television producer and RISD Trustee Ilene Chaiken ’79, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs of The New School Renée T. White, Brown University President Christina H. Paxson and author and poet Gabrielle Calvocoressi.

A community celebration will follow in Market Square. Later that day the New Space(s) Inauguration Symposium will kick off with an opening conversation between artist and RISD Trustee Shahzia Sikander MFA ’95, architect Michael Maltzan ’85 and Chaiken about the power and potential of new spaces in art, design and entertainment. Friday programming also includes open studios, symposium panels, a special WaterFire lighting and an evening block party in Market Square.

On Saturday, October 8, panel conversations and open studios will continue, and RISD Craft, the juried alumni and student art sale, will be held on Benefit Street from 10am to 4pm. The weekend’s festivities will conclude with a closing event featuring author, scholar and activist Ibram X. Kendi and President Williams in conversation about how art and design can help build an antiracist society.

“Inauguration offers us the opportunity to come together to celebrate the power and potential of art and design to create a more socially equitable, sustainable, dynamic and beautiful world,” notes RISD President Crystal Williams. “My hope for this weekend and beyond is that we honor and amplify the potential of each person in our community and, with the inauguration theme of “new space(s)” in mind, we challenge ourselves to always think critically, fully realizing our collective ability to make lasting and positive global impact.”

In celebration of President Williams’ inauguration, the RISD Museum is offering free admission on October 7 (12–7pm) and October 8 (10am–5pm), and the RISD Store will offer an 18 percent discount from October 7–10 in honor of RISD’s 18th president.

Details about Inauguration Weekend can be found here, and the investiture ceremony and select speaking programs will be available on the website after the event. Everyone is invited to join the conversation on social media using the hashtags #RISDInauguration and #RISDNewSpaces.

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