Strategic Planning

RISD is getting ready to finalize its next strategic plan in order to officially launch it in fall 2019. You’ll find details about the process and timeline below. Please contact the Office of Integrated Planning with questions about strategic planning at RISD.


RISD’s last strategic plan, Critical Making | Making Critical, established goals and initiatives that would guide institutional activities and priorities from 2012–17. The process for our comprehensive reaccreditation (which occurs every 10 years) launched in 2014—at about the midpoint of the last plan. Given institutional capacity and transitions, RISD leaders decided to postpone the next planning process until the accreditation self-study was completed and recommendations received from the visiting team. The self-study process provided an opportunity to both reflect on what was accomplished in the last plan and identify needs for the next plan. Aligning both processes supports RISD’s commitment to integrated planning and building a culture of ongoing planning, evaluation and improvement.



In the fall of 2016, RISD began the official strategic planning process at campus-wide sessions held during Development Days in November. Faculty and staff attendees worked in small, cross-institutional groups to respond to prompts from President Somerson about advancements we should consider now and in the future.

A Strategic Planning Core Committee composed of faculty and staff then began work in spring 2017 to identify and sort the emergent themes from Development Days that would form the framework of the strategic plan. The provost convened 21 working groups comprised of 86 faculty and 60 staff members to respond to these emergent themes and charged them with making recommendations.


During the spring, the provost distilled and organized the recommendations of the working groups into a draft Academic Plan, which was shared with the academic community. Throughout the spring, the Provost’s Office convened a series of listening tours to encourage faculty and staff feedback on the proposed plan.

Over the summer of 2018, the Cabinet and Deans Council identified institutional priorities and aligned them with the priorities included in the Academic Plan. Together, they created the first draft called Strategic Directions. Using this document as a prompt, RISD leadership met with close to 500 faculty, staff and students over the fall semester to receive feedback, which they used to revise the draft Strategic Directions into RISD’s Strategic Plan 2020–2027, released to the community in February.

Next Steps

Cabinet members and Deans will hold meetings with members of their respective departments to solicit any final input and respond to questions. Community members may also email at any time with questions or comments.

The faculty will vote on the plan at the April 7 Faculty Meeting. The Board of Trustees will review this draft at their February 22 meeting and will vote on the final plan at the Trustee Meeting at the end of May.

Once trustees approve the plan, the Cabinet and Deans’ Council will create a high-level institutional implementation plan to guide all responsible areas. Detailed action implementation plans will be developed by each responsible area. The institutional implementation plan and key progress dashboards will be shared with the community when the plan officially launches in the fall of 2019.


How will you incorporate community feedback into the final draft?

Members of Cabinet and Dean’s Council will meet with their departments and divisions to solicit any final input and respond to questions. Based on the feedback received, RISD leaders will further refine the draft and as well as use the feedback to inform implementation planning.

What are the next steps approving the plan?

The faculty will vote on the plan at the April 7 Faculty Meeting. The Board of Trustees will review this draft at their February 22 meeting and will vote on the final plan at the Trustee Meeting at the end of May.

What is the plan for implementation?

Upon approval by the Trustees, the Cabinet and Deans Council will develop an institutional implementation plan. Detailed action and implementation plans will be developed by by each responsible area in alignment and support of the institutional plan. The institutional implementation plan and progress dashboards will be shared with the community in the fall of 2019.

Much of this plan will require new resources and money. Where will the funding and resources come from?

The Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration has worked closely with Cabinet and Dean’s Council to estimate necessary resource needs (financial, human, physical) and model a multi-year budget to ensure the successful execution of the initiatives and goals identified in the draft plan. Funding will come from a combination of sources—strategic enrollment growth, new revenue opportunities, more effective workflows and processes, increased fundraising capacity and cost reduction efforts. This plan is meant to be selective, not only additive, to enable us to meet our greatest ambitions without burdening our human and financial resources, and most importantly, to keep tuition increases as low as possible.

Why did the plan get extended from a five-year to a seven-year timeline?

In analyzing the resources and time needed to implement the priorities we identified, we realized that a seven-year timeline would enable us to more realistically and responsibly realize this ambitious set of goals. The work we have done heralds what is next for RISD as we anticipate the celebration of our 150th year in 2027.

Why don’t I see all of the results of my working group or comments from feedback sessions reflected in this plan?

This version reflects high-level priorities that will guide the institution over the next five years. The initiatives and goals in this draft reflect Academic Plan recommendations and community feedback. The Cabinet and Deans Council have prioritized goals and initiatives that can have the most significant impact on RISD’s future, those that align with our values and those that we can support through new revenue or fundraising. This does not mean that this is all we will do. While the final plan cannot include all recommendations, it will not preclude divisional or departmental plans from being developed or implemented in alignment with the strategic plan.

What happened to the Academic Plan?

The highest priorities of the Academic Plan were identified by the Dean’s Council with the Cabinet and are represented in the plan. The Academic Plan was a distillation of the working group reports and was further refined as it was integrated into the overarching institutional priorities. You’ll see elements of the Academic Plan reflected throughout the strategic plan. It’s important to note that the strategic plan will be an institutional plan and that business unit leaders have their own plans that complement and support the strategic plan.

What happened to the SEI plan?

Our Social Equity and Inclusion Action Plan is not the work of one person or office and should not simply be a section of our strategic plan. Instead we have embedded its principles throughout the plan so that it becomes core to institutional systems and values in order to effect lasting transformation.

Core Committee

Maggie Balch, Dean of Students
Patricia Barbeito, Dean of Faculty
Daniel Cavicchi, Vice Provost
David Frazer, Professor, Painting
Sarah Ganz Blythe, Deputy Director, Exhibitions, Education & Programs, RISD Museum
Shawn Greenlee, Associate Professor, EFS
Mara Hermano, Vice President of Integrated Planning
Carl Lostritto, Assistant Professor, Architecture
Andy Martinez, Archivist
Margot Nishimura, Interim Dean of Libraries
Jorge Paricio, Senior Critic, Industrial Design
David Proulx, Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration
Lisi Raskin, Associate Professor + Department Head, Sculpture
Matthew Shenoda, Vice President of Social Equity and Inclusion
Emily Vogler, Assistant Professor + Department Head, Landscape Architecture

Working Groups

Academic Advising
Community Engagement
CE, EE, Museum
Color Lab
Complexity Lab
Co-Works Lab
Center for Teaching + Learning
Faculty Types
General Education
Global Humanities Lab
Learning Outcomes
Nature Lab
Publishing Lab
Residential Life
Student Health + Wellness
Textile Lab
Workflow + Process