President Maeda’s message to RISD community

Dear RISD Community,

I would like to share some news with you about a transition I will be making by inviting you to watch this video I put together:
For those of you unable to watch from your current location, here is the text of the video:

“Six years ago, I was asked by the Presidential Search Committee for the Rhode Island School of Design what my vision would be for RISD as its 16th president. I shared with them how I noted that MIT rose in the post WWII-era because technology became of national strategic importance.

I asked if one day, could creativity come into the foreground, could the one school who could bring innovation to America be RISD, an art and design school?

I’m proud to say that moment is now.

Today, RISD is the preeminent college of art and design in the country.

From the halls of Congress in Washington DC to the startup elite in Silicon Valley, RISD now represents the case for creativity in our world, showing every day how art and design can transform our economy and bring meaning to our lives.

Together, we were able to achieve this great goal, even as we and the world witnessed unprecedented volatility and complexity. The acceleration of information technology has changed our lives dramatically, and global boundaries continue to fade.

But if there is one thing my time at RISD has shown me, it’s that there are no people better equipped to deal with these changes than the artists, designers and scholars of RISD.

During the last six years we have become a stronger institution. Applications to RISD have increased, financial aid to our students has increased, and we recruited the most diverse undergraduate classes in RISD’s history, thanks to Jean Eddy and her team.

RISD was ranked the #1 Design School in the world in 2012 through our collective efforts, our rich history, and the ongoing strength of our academic programs that are a source of pride to all.

And it makes me especially happy that The Art of Critical Making, edited by Provost Rosanne Somerson and Mara Hermano, has proudly shared RISD’s unique intellectual approach with the world, featuring great talents like Professors Andrew Raftery and Cas Holman.

Just two years ago, RISD played host to one of the country’s first explorations of STEM to STEAM, in a workshop funded by the National Science Foundation. Since then, STEAM has invaded the vernacular and grown into a national arts advocacy movement with RISD at its center, making the case for K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education to incorporate the Arts. The bipartisan STEAM caucus, launched through Babette Allina’s efforts in February 2013, now has more than 55 representatives from across the country who have joined.

We’ve raised more than $9M for scholarships, and have achieved major gains in fundraising for our academic programs, broadening RISD’s reach to Abu Dhabi, Korea and beyond, thanks to the fruitful partnership between Academic Affairs and Eric Graage’s Institutional Engagement group.

We’ve strengthened our co-curricular offerings, especially in Greg Victory’s Career Center and the Center for Student Involvement, and the renovation of the Illustration Department, which was decades in the making, is today a reality.

We have achieved all of this, and made many more vital improvements, with a commitment to prudent fiscal management and the lowest tuition increases in decades, even in the face of a relentless recession.

On the heels of these years of progress and the sturdy foundations upon which we have built together, I want you to know that I have accepted a position in the technology industry to continue my life-work at the intersection of design, technology, and business. I will begin this new chapter in January 2014, and I will be leaving RISD at the end of this semester.

I am leaving at a time when RISD is in great standing and I am confident that RISD will be left in good hands.

If there is one thought to leave you with, it is this: The power of artists and designers is rising, and RISD has never been in a better position to show the world why and how.

I am so proud to have been part of this community; to lead it, to build an amazing academic and operational team, and to represent it in the world.

I know that I leave RISD as the best art and design school in the world and with the opportunity that it will be even better in the years to come.

And I know that with the passion of our faculty, students, staff, alumni, trustees, librarians, and curators, our beloved college and museum will continue to flourish, and I look forward with great anticipation to coming back to campus to see it.

Thank you.”

It has been an honor and privilege to lead this incredible institution for the past six years, and deciding to leave was not easy.  But I have always encouraged our students to take risks and seize opportunities to lead and, in the end, I knew that I needed to take this chance to continue to reveal to the world just how important artists and designers are to the creative economy. Nothing has shown me that more than my time at RISD.

I will begin my next chapter as a Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in January 2014, working with their entrepreneurs to build design into their company cultures. I will also be chairing the eBay Design Advisory Board, working with the company to evolve their design capabilities. Together, these opportunities offer an exciting and challenging way for me to continue my work at the intersection of design, technology, and business.

I have every confidence that RISD will continue to flourish in years to come and with the continued dedication of the leadership here today, including our Board of Trustees, chaired by Michael Spalter, and my Cabinet, with Provost Rosanne Somerson and Chief Operating Officer Jean Eddy at the helm.

I want to thank the RISD Presidential Search Committee, who I met back in 2007, chaired by Trustee and Chair Emeritus Merrill Sherman, for the opportunity to lead this great community. And a special thanks to our students – whom I had the pleasure of addressing earlier this week, and many of whom I had the chance to meet individually at open office hours, in the dining halls, hallways, the RISD Beach, and the 47 little and big buildings that make up our RISD universe.

We have achieved so much working together, and I am truly proud of what we all have led for art and design in the world. While for many of us, the old saying — “RISD is the Reason I’m Sleep Deprived” — rings true, I will always remember RISD alum Donald Wong ‘82 who wistfully shared with me that for him, RISD stands for the “Reason I Still Dream.” Thanks to all of you for making my dream come true.

Thank you, Rhode Island School of Design.


John Maeda, president

John Maeda (
Office of the President | Rhode Island School of Design
2 College Street | Providence, RI 02903 | 401-454-6764

For info about the President’s Office:


December 4, 2013
Dear RISD Alumni,
I’d like to share with you the following important message from RISD Board Chair Michael Spalter:

To the esteemed members of the RISD community,
In my role as the Chairman of the Board I want to share with you news about our President John Maeda. He has informed me that he will be leaving our cherished, 136 year old institution at the end of the semester for an exciting opportunity in Silicon Valley where he will become a Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and also chair the eBay Design Advisory Board, beginning in January 2014.
I would like to congratulate President Maeda on his new appointments and wish him every success. I am delighted that he will continue to be an advocate for creativity and a leader at the intersection of design, technology, and business.
President Maeda has been a visionary, passionate, and tireless leader for RISD over the past six years and for that I extend a heartfelt thank you on behalf of our community. He has advanced not only our institution but also the role of art and design in the 21st century global economy. President Maeda leaves RISD stronger than ever before, a global community of more than 30,000 thinkers and makers who are changing the world through their vision, their work, and their creative passion.
Rhode Island School of Design’s Board of Trustees will take the appropriate next steps to ensure a smooth and orderly transition. The Board will work closely with our extraordinary, seasoned and talented leadership team – Provost Rosanne Somerson and Chief Operating Officer Jean Eddy. In its commitment to inclusivity, transparency, and open communication, the Board will keep the community apprised as we move ahead together.

Yours in art and design,
Michael Spalter

The full press release can be seen on the RISD website, along with a video message from President Maeda.
Warm Regards,
Jeffrey Yan BArch 01
President, RISD Alumni Council


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