Budget Office

The Budget Office is responsible for developing and managing all aspects of the RISD annual operating and capital budget and for long-term financial planning. The office partners with departmental financial managers to support their operations with the resources available.

FY19 operating budget results and updated five-year model

RISD completed Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) with an operating budget surplus of $2.68 million due to continued strong enrollment and increased revenue from continuing education, events and conferences, and partnered programs. The revenue results coupled with the management of our expenses within the approved budget allowed for the surplus to come within reach of our $3 million target. Please note that the $3 million budget surplus target is necessary to reinvest in our physical plant, provide savings for potential revenue shortfalls or unexpected expenses and maintain our strong bond rating.

In addition, RISD’s FY19 financial statements have been audited by Baker Tilly and approved by the Board of Trustees. The operating budget surplus is reflected in the overall financial statements.

As good as this news is, we still have work to do. Next: RISD 2020 - 2027 outlines goals and strategies to maintain RISD’s status as the art and design school of choice. In order to realize these goals, we must continue to identify new sources of revenue and reduce the cost to deliver our education. That work began in January 2019 by challenging the RISD community to identify $6 million of budget flexibility through new revenue and expense reductions. With the input of faculty, staff and students, the Budget Advisory Group recommended $2.7 million in budget flexibility for FY20 that has since been implemented. An additional $3.5 million is targeted to be identified for FY21. Updates will be provided in December and January as we begin to shape the FY21 budget.

Please see below for updated information on the FY19 budget results and five-year model as well as the slides used for fall budget presentations. In addition please click here to access the FY19 audited financial statements. SVP for Finance and Administration Dave Proulx is meeting with each area this fall to discuss RISD’s financial status and hopes you will be able to attend. In addition, he will host open forums on Wednesday, November 6 from 9–10 am in the 20 Washington Place auditorium and on Thursday, November 7 from 4–5 pm in the 20 Washington Place gathering space.

Questions, comments and ideas should be forwarded to Dave at

FY19 Operating Budget Results and Five-year Model
FY20–FY25 Budget Forecast

Finding flexibility in RISD’s operating budget

RISD faces the reality that our operating costs—with 1,200 employees, 1.9 million square feet of facilities, and an expanding information technology infrastructure—will exceed our revenue in the near future. In order to maintain our current position of strength while achieving our ambitions, RISD will find financial flexibility through increased revenues and reallocation strategies. As a community, we are working to find the following cost savings:

  • $2.5 million for fiscal year 2020
  • $3.5 million for fiscal year 2021

FY20–FY24 Budget Forecast

Submit Your Ideas to the Budget Advisory Committee
Please provide your ideas for revenue generation and/or ideas for RISD to reduce its operating costs. Your answers will be kept confidential and only your ideas will be shared with the Budget Advisory Group and the community. Updates to the community will be provided throughout the budget process.

Budget Ideas Form
RISD Budget Ideas as of 3/12/19

Fiscal Year 2020 and Beyond
Over the spring semester more than 200 RISD faculty, staff and students attended six open forums and town halls to learn more about our current financial situation, ask questions, and offer suggestions for cost savings or revenue generation. The Budget Advisory Group (BAG)—made up of faculty, staff and students—vetted these ideas and put forward 16 recommendations for implementation in fiscal year 2020 for a savings of $2.7 million.

BAG has also recommended 30 additional ideas to be studied over the course of the next nine months to find further financial flexibility, which are also included in the document. These strategies will be studied to determine the feasibility and benefit for RISD, and to determine which ones we move forward; no implementation decisions will be made until December 2019. Updates will be provided over this period through email, the Budget Office web page, department/division meetings and open forums.

FY20 BAG Recommendations + Items to be Studied
Finding Flexibility in RISD's Operating Budget FAQ

Budget Advisory Group

  • Rafael Attias, Senior Critic, Illustration
  • Bill Andreozzi, Associate Director of Budget, Dining & Catering Services
  • Candace Baer, Vice President of Human Resources
  • Justin Bazar, IT Service Specialist
  • Sarah Caggiano, Executive Director of Continuing Education
  • Jennaca Davies, Assistant Professor, Industrial Design
  • Edward Draper, Director of Academic Budgets and Resources
  • Virginia Dunleavy, Executive Director of Auxiliary Services
  • Kevin Forti, Director of Residence Life
  • Scheri Fultineer, Dean of Architecture & Design
  • Jacqueline Gendel, Assistant Professor, Painting
  • Bob Hanke, Director of Budget & Financial Planning
  • Nancy Kesseli, Senior Budget Analyst
  • Rey Londres, 21 PH
  • Andrea Marth, Executive Director of Advancement Operations & Systems
  • William Miller, Technical Assistant, Painting
  • James O'Hara, Vice President of Enrollment
  • Donna Papineau, Senior Facilities Service & Systems Administrator
  • David Proulx, Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration
  • Taylor Scott, Chief of Staff and Communications
  • Denise Siomkin, Executive Assistant and Policy Coordinator
  • Henry Spuria, 23 EFS
  • Glenn Stinson, Business & Financial Manager, Museum

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is RISD doing this work now? Are we in a crisis?
RISD is in a strong financial position currently — we are not in a crisis. We have strong student demand (record numbers of applicants), a healthy endowment, competitive compensation of faculty and staff, solid bond ratings, and savings to address emergencies. However, we also have increasing costs, a heavy reliance on tuition with a sticker price of over $66,000 next year, increased competition, obligation to maintain our healthy bond ratings, and the need for increased support services for students. As a result, we are seeing costs rise at a rate that exceeds our revenue growth. Our current financial strength affords us time to address this financial challenge in a strategic and thoughtful way. Many institutions do not have this luxury— they are working simply to survive. Through community participation, thorough analysis, commitment to non-student revenue growth, and efficient use of resources, we will secure our financial future to continue to allow RISD to thrive and slow down increasing cost rates so that we can try to slow down tuition increase rates.

2. How were these final recommendations decided?
Over the spring semester more than 200 RISD faculty, staff and students attended six open forums or town halls to learn more about our current financial situation, ask questions, and offer suggestions for cost savings or revenue generation. In addition, more than 200 unique ideas were submitted via form. These ideas were reviewed by the subgroups of the Budget Advisory Committee, made of up faculty, staff and students. These subgroups studied, researched and debated the many ideas and together, finalized a set of recommendations made to Cabinet and the Deans Council, which were approved for fiscal year 2020.

BAG has also recommended 30 additional ideas suggested by the community to be studied over the course of the next nine months to find further financial flexibility for fiscal year 2021. This work will be continued by the BAG beginning in June with status reports provided to the Cabinet + Deans in September and a final set of recommendations to the Cabinet + Deans in December, 2019. Regular updates to the community will be sent throughout the fall and a final report to the community will be provided in January, 2020.

3. Many of these cost savings require changes in policy and procedure. When will they be implemented?
Policies and procedures are currently being updated and will be communicated to the community on an ongoing basis over the next several months.

4. I’m concerned about how these changes affect my role. Who should I speak with to better understand them?
Faculty may speak directly with their deans and staff with their supervisors to learn more about whether certain of the specific recommendations will affect them and how. As we begin implementing these recommendations, more details will be determined and communicated broadly to the campus.

5. How does this impact the Strategic Plan?
Funding for the strategic plan will come from a combination of sources—strategic, modest enrollment growth, new revenue opportunities, more effective workflows and processes, increased fundraising capacity and cost reduction efforts. If we want to implement truly transformative initiatives and priorities—such as increased financial aid/scholarships, changes in faculty workload, and investments in health and wellness—we must identify financial resources to fund them.

“Rethinking the way we budget,” is a foundational goal of the draft Strategic Plan (found on page 8) and a deep, reflective analysis of where money is being spent is a best practice of any financially-healthy organization.

6. How is this process different from the one we went through in 2008?
2008 was a time of financial crisis across the nation during which RISD lost $90 million from its endowment and about $5 million in annual endowment draw to support the operating budget. We are in an extremely different situation presently. Not only is the economy strong, but as an institution we have strong student demand (record numbers of applicants), a healthy endowment, competitive compensation of faculty and staff, solid bond ratings, and savings to address emergencies.

Our current financial strength affords us time so that we may address our financial challenges in a strategic and thoughtful way. We must work collectively to change the financial model of RISD for both the short and long-term future as we work to make the cost of attending our institution as affordable as possible.

7. Can’t we just increase fundraising to solve the problem?
Fundraising is a critical part of addressing the challenges we face, and we are currently building the necessary infrastructure to achieve substantial growth. Through the strategic plan and support from our Board of Trustees, we are aggressively investing in Institutional Engagement to establish or re-establish connections with alumni, parents, and friends of RISD. We are already seeing significant fundraising increases and are confident that by FY23 we will see substantial growth in fundraising revenue to RISD. However, fundraising will not address the problem alone. For example, we would have to increase giving to the RISD Fund by 400%, or increase our endowment by over $100 million, to fully meet the $6 million target in financial flexibility by fiscal year 2021. In the interim, it is imperative that we make the investments in Institutional Engagement while growing other non-student revenue streams and ensuring we are operating as cost efficiently as possible.

8. How can we grow other revenue streams listed and what is the timeline?
We currently have a healthy and successful Continuing Education program which generates approximately $2 million of net revenue for our budget. We have opportunities to expand our work in this area to match the demand. To do this, faculty and staff will need to find ways to accommodate Continuing Education by increasing shared use of space, engaging in teaching, and providing support services. Executive education programs have great potential, but we need to make investments in infrastructure, as well as build capacity for programming and support, for this area to be successful. Through RISD Research, we are engaged in partnerships with Infosys and other companies, and many opportunities for revenue generation in that area exist. However, investments in infrastructure will need to be made, as well as faculty and staff support, to expand beyond current levels of activity.

9. What is the impact on students?
As a result of our cost reduction efforts, we will maintain the high-quality of our academic programming and work to increase financial aid, enhance facilities, expand pedagogy and create a stronger all-around student experience. This work helps us in our long-term goal of changing the financial structure of RISD so that we are less proportionately reliant on tuition and able to provide our students with greater financial access and support for their development.

10. Why are we creating a new budget process and how will it differ from our current one?

SVP of Finance and Administration Dave Proulx will work closely with the President, Provost, Cabinet, and Deans’ Council to make changes to our budget process with the goal of being more transparent and streamlined, basing funding on changing activity levels, so that we maintain consistent quality, while being equitable and fair to each department. We anticipate full implementation for the FY21 budget, while increasing transparency for the FY20 budget.

RISD cell phone and mobile device policy

RISD is moving forward with several initiatives to reduce expenses and increase non student revenue in an effort to limit cost of attendance increases to students, maintain its bond ratings and achieve the goals identified in Next: RISD 2020-2027. The list of initiatives can be found here. Many of the initiatives are underway, such as changes to the RISD Cell Phone and Mobile Device Policy.

Currently, RISD spends more than $150,000 on cell phones, mobile devices and related voice and data plans contracting with multiple providers. Changes to the RISD Cell Phone and Mobile Device Policy will result in a reduction in the number of devices supported by RISD and a change in the manner in which RISD funds them. For further information, please review the RISD Cell Phone and Mobile Device Policy and the corresponding frequently asked questions document. If you and your supervisor feel that you qualify for a stipend, please fill out the request form. Decisions will be made by the Provost for academic units and the SVP for Finance and Administration for non-academic units. A follow up communication will be distributed in September with an update on the initiative. Please email Dave Proulx with questions.