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Roger Williams University: Today we commemorate 25 years as a university

Published on May 5, 2017

Twenty-five years ago today, Roger Williams College became Roger Williams University. Since that time, we have come a long way as an institution of higher learning. This milestone provides us with an opportunity to both look back on the progress made and to give thanks to the people that have made that progress possible. So it is appropriate that the anniversary comes just one day after our Employee Service Recognition Program, which recognized the contributions and dedication of those who have worked here over the years.

In 1992, the then-chairman of the College Planning Council, Malcolm H. Forbes, wrote to then-President Natale A. Sicuro, making the case for “university” status. “Roger Williams College has come of age,” he said. “From its inception as a branch of Northeastern University in 1919 and its subsequent metamorphosis in 1938 to the Providence Technical Institute, followed by affiliation with the Providence YMCA, Roger Williams was incorporated as a junior college in 1956 and grew to four-year status in 1967. The move from Providence to its permanent campus in Bristol came in 1969.”

“From the beginning,” Forbes wrote, “the College combined both professional and liberal studies, attracting students who were able to succeed in the very supportive, and yet challenging, environment of the comprehensive institution. Our program of instruction and community outreach has extended far beyond the boundaries of the College campus, and students are attracted to Roger Williams College from throughout the country and the world.”

He cited the baccalaureate programs in architecture, engineering and business, plus the art, dance and theater programs. And he noted that the law school was then being established. “It therefore seems appropriate and timely for Roger Williams to adopt ‘University’ status,” Forbes concluded.

Twenty-five years later, Roger Williams University offers 48 majors, with 4,902 undergraduate students, 291 graduate students and 431 law students. And just last year, the university nearly doubled its footprint in Rhode Island’s capital city by opening the new Providence campus, which provides expanded space for RWU’s School of Law and its School of Continuing Studies. Also, the University is fostering a growing array of outreach and engagement programs through its Community Partnerships Center and through entities such as HousingWorks RI and the Latino Policy Institute at RWU.

Today, it therefore seems appropriate and timely for Roger Williams University to celebrate the advances of the past 25 years and to look forward to the accomplishments that await us in the next 25 years.

Donald J. Farish,