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Rhode Island College

Rhode Island College is a nationally ranked, coeducational, state-supported comprehensive college founded in 1854, located in Providence, Rhode Island, USA


600 Mount Pleasant Ave
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Gold And White

College History


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 who had established the Rhode Island Teachers Institute at Smithville Seminary in 1845, 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-19th century 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, was confirmed in 1898 when it moved into a large building specially constructed for it on Providence's Capitol Hill near the State House (this space is now occupied by the Providence Place mall). The John Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts in 2007. The building's facade incorporates columns and other materials from the original Normal School Building. 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 offered a four-year program which upon a student's completion would grant 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 the 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 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 Nina's House (formerly known as the Yellow Cottage or Cottage C), one of the original structures from the State Home.

College Specialty


Building on its historic roots in teacher education and its current status as the largest preparer of educators in the State, Rhode Island College aspires to be broadly recognized for the excellence of its academic, public service, and cultural programs. Widely known for its curricula in education, fine and performing arts, nursing, and social work, the College is equally committed to offering a broad array of undergraduate arts and sciences and professional majors. The College is dedicated to ensuring that each student experience academic life in a caring community where education is informed by serious inquiry, civic engagement, and open discourse; and, its faculty continually strive to fulfill the promise of the liberal arts education: an open and inquiring mind. As the State's single comprehensive institution of higher education, the College fulfills Rhode Island's promise of affordable access to superior higher education for traditional and non-traditional students



Justine Mainville, keyboardist, drummer, singer for Math the Band. Roberto Gonzalez, the first Hispanic judge in the history of Rhode Island, graduated in 1975. 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, a Tony Award winning and Academy Award nominated actress. In 2001, she was awarded the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her work in King Hedley II. In 2009, she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in the film Doubt, and in 2010 she won a Tony Award for "Fences". Allan Fung, an American politician and the first Asian America mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island. Graduated in 1992. Annie Smith Peck, a pioneering woman educator and mountaineer, graduated from the college when it was still known as the Normal School. Danny Smith, Executive Producer, writer and voice actor for television's Family Guy. 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. James Macomber, novelist, author of international legal thrillers "Bargained for Exchange", "Art & Part", "A Grave Breach", "Sovereign Order". As a RIC undergraduate, Macomber was president of the freshman and sophomore classes, was elected President of the Student Senate in his junior year, and as a senior was the first student to be named to the College Council. Sharon Ellen Burtman, 1995 US Women's Chess Champion. Hugh Leonard, Irish playwright, screenwriter, and columnist, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 1980. 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. Steven Libman, a nationally recognized performing arts leader known for producing dance, theatre and multi-disciplinary performing arts series. He was awarded Outstanding Alumnus in the Arts from the college in 2000.



Suburban, 180 acres (688,000 m�)