Rhode Island College

This article is about the current institution that has used this name since 1960.
For the institution that used this name from 1764 until 1804, see Brown University.

Rhode Island College (RIC) is a coeducational, state-supported comprehensive college founded in 1854, located in Providence, Rhode Island, USA. Rhode Island College is the oldest of the three public institutions of higher education that operate under the aegis of the Board of Governors for Higher Education; the two other institutions include the University of Rhode Island and the Community College of Rhode Island.


Rhode Island College was first established as the Rhode Island State Normal School by the Rhode Island General Assembly in 1854. Its creation can be attributed to the labors of Henry Barnard, the first state agent for education in Rhode Island and his successor Elisha Potter. Rhode Island State Normal School was one of the nation's first normal schools (teacher preparatory schools), which grew out of the humanitarian groundswell of the mid-1800s spurred by educational missionaries like Horace Mann. The school attracted hard working young people who came chiefly from ordinary backgrounds, who wanted to teach and who had no other way of preparing themselves.

Not yet thoroughly convinced of the school's value, the General Assembly curtailed its financial support in 1857 and the school was moved to Bristol where it lingered until 1865 before closing. However, in 1869, the newly appointed state commissioner of education, Thomas W. Bicknell, began a vigorous personal campaign to revive the school. His efforts were rewarded in 1871 when the General Assembly unanimously voted a $10,000 appropriation for the school's re-opening in Providence.

Renamed the Rhode Island Normal School, the institution settled into a period of steady growth punctuated by periodic moves to larger quarters. The general favor won by the school after its first difficult years had passed and was confirmed in 1898 when it moved into a large building specially constructed for it on Providence's Capital Hill near the State House (this space is now occupied by the Providence Place mall).

At first, the Rhode Island Normal School offered admission to both high school graduates and non-graduates, with high school graduates expected to complete their studies in one year. However, by 1908 the program had been lengthened to two and a half years and restricted to high school graduates.

In 1920, the Rhode Island Normal School was renamed Rhode Island College of Education by order of the General Assembly, the college now offering a four year program which upon completion one would receive a Bachelor of Education degree. At this time the observation school, which dated back to the 1890s, was renamed the Henry Barnard School. The college's graduate program also originated in the early 1920s and the first master's degrees were conferred in 1924.

For the next three decades the college remained a small, teachers' college with a student body of four to six hundred men and women, most of whom went on to teach in the elementary and junior high schools of the state. Early in the 1950s that calm was shattered by intense debate that arose over the college's role in the state system of higher education and for a time serious doubt was cast on its continued existence. There were plans to merge the institution with Rhode Island's other four year college, the University of Rhode Island. After careful consideration, the Board of Trustees of State Colleges decided to keep the college independent and strengthen it overall.

In 1958, the college was moved to its current campus in Mount Pleasant section of Providence. In 1959, the Rhode Island Commission to Study Higher Education recommended the development of the institution into a general college which was approved by the General Assembly. Reflecting the broadening of purpose, the institution's name was changed for the final time to its current name Rhode Island College in 1959.

The East Campus includes the former grounds of the Rhode Island State Home and School, the first post-Civil War orphanage in the country. In recent years, many efforts have been undertaken by Rhode Island College and its benefactors to preserve the Yellow Cottage or Cottage C, one of the last remaining structures from the State Home.


Academic programs at Rhode Island College are split into five colleges: the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development, the School of Management, the School of Nursing and the School of Social Work These schools offer more than 90 undergraduate and 30 graduate programs for students. Rhode Island College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Among the five colleges, individual departments have received additional accreditation from the following associations: Council on Social Work Education, National Association of Schools of Art and Design, National Association of Schools of Music, National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Students and Faculty

With an enrollment predominantly from Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut, the institution historically has served as a "College of Opportunity" for first-generation college students.

66% of the student body are full-time students.

67% of enrolled students are female, and 33% of enrolled students are male


Nancy Carriuolo is the ninth president of Rhode Island College. The president is the chief executive officer of the College and is responsible for the success of the College's mission in providing superior academic programs and research. The previous president, John Nazarian, who was associated with the College for more than fifty years, retired from the presidency at the end of the 2007-2008 academic year.

President Years in Office
John Lincoln Alger 1920-1940
Lucius Albert Whipple 1940-1951
William C. Gaige 1952-1968
Joseph Kauffman 1968-1973
Charles B. Willard 1973-1977
David E. Sweet 1977-1984
Carol J. Guardo 1986-1990
John Nazarian 1990-2008
Nancy Carriuolo 2008-

Notable Graduates

James Langevin, 2nd District Congressman from Rhode Island, was a graduate of Rhode Island College, majoring in public administration. Langevin also served as President of Student Community Government, Inc., during his undergraduate career at the college.

Ron McLarty, a noted television actor and novelist, is a graduate of the College; in 2007, he was the featured speaker at commencement, and was awarded an honorary degree.

Viola Davis, an African American actress, who is mostly known for her work in television and theatre. In 2001, she was awarded the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her work in King Hedley II. She also appeared in The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life Is Not A Fairy Tale.

Annie Smith Peck, a pioneering woman educator and mountaineer, graduated from the college when it was still known as the Normal School.

Peter Boyer is one of the most frequently performed young American orchestral composers. His work Ellis Island: The Dream of America for actors and orchestra was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition in 2006.

Sharon Ellen Burtman, 1995 US Women Chess Champion.

Sandeep Joshi, James Thibault, Keith Kaplan, David Ouellette, James Della-Selva, Robert Tsang, Lorraine Levin and Edward Gonsalves, members of the 1985 Pan Am Intercollegiate and National Champion chess club. RIC replaced Columbia University as the new National Champion in 1985 by defeating Rutgers, Michigan, Baruch College, Ohio State, Northwestern and Harvard. RIC also routed Canadian National Champion University of Toronto 4-0 to become the 1985 Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Champion.

Campus life

There are 19 varsity sports, 6 in the fall, 6 in the winter, and 7 in the spring. RIC is primarily a commuter school, and six residence halls house 1194 students.

Student activities and clubs on campus are governed and funded by Student Community Government, Inc., a semi-autonomous organization financed by the college's student activity fee, consisting of an executive board, parliament, and several committees. Notable amongst several dozen organizations are the campus's student run and operated radio station, 90.7 WXIN, which has been on air since 1979 , and the Anchor newspaper, a weekly student-run and operated 20 page paper published since 1928

Other active clubs on campus include Rhode Island College Programming, Future Elementary Education Teachers, Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Community on Campus, Biology Club, OASPA, Harambee, Anchormen Rugby, Anchorwomen Rugby, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, Latin American Student Organization, NSSLHA, RIC TV, Rhode Island College Ballroom Dance Team, and the RIC Environmental Club As of July 2008, there are 63 clubs on campus considered "active" by Student Community Government, Inc.

A new $30 million residence hall (simply called the "NEW" dorm for now), opened for the fall semester of 2007. The building expanded the institution's existing housing capacity by 44%.

RIC also features a Campus Ministry in the lower level of Donovan Dining Center, next door to the Unity Center. The ministry is non-denominational with many religions, ethnic groups, and academic concentrations represented.

See also


External links

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