Roger Williams University

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Roger Williams University
Statue of Roger Williams at Roger Williams University, Bristol, Rhode Island.jpg
A 1997 statue of namesake Roger Williams stands before the main administration building
Motto Magna Est Veritas
Motto in English
Truth is Mighty
Type Private university
Established 1956
Affiliation Non-sectarian
Endowment $79.2 million (2016)[1]
President Donald J. Farish
Academic staff
489 (207 full-time, 282 part-time, 205 tenured or tenure-track)[2]
Administrative staff
165 (full-time, as of 2011),[3] 3,578 total employees (as of 2014)[4]
Students 4,416 undergraduate, 741 graduate[5]
Location Bristol, Rhode Island, United States
41°38′58″N 71°15′38″W / 41.64944°N 71.26056°W / 41.64944; -71.26056Coordinates: 41°38′58″N 71°15′38″W / 41.64944°N 71.26056°W / 41.64944; -71.26056
Campus Suburban, 140 waterfront acres
Colors Royal Blue, Gold, and White
Nickname Hawks

Roger Williams University (RWU) is a private, coeducational American liberal arts university located on 140 acres (57 ha) in Bristol, Rhode Island, on Mt. Hope Bay, with a branch in Providence, RI. Founded in 1956, it was named for theologian and Rhode Island cofounder Roger Williams.

In recent years, the enrollment has been over 5,000 students, with over 480 academic staff. The university has no religious affiliation.


The university’s operations date to 1919, when Northeastern University opened a branch campus in the YMCA building in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1940, the YMCA Board of Directors took over the school, and the YMCA Institute granted its first associate's degrees in 1948. In 1956, the Institute received a state charter to become a two-year, degree-granting institution under the name of Roger Williams Junior College. During the 1960s, Roger Williams College began granting bachelor’s degrees. Needing a larger campus, the college purchased 80 acres (32 ha) of waterfront land and moved its main campus to Bristol in 1969. (RWU continues to operate a branch campus in Providence.) In 1989 new president Dr. Natale A. Sicuro initiated the Roger Williams Plan for the 90s, and became concurrently the president of the newly established Roger Williams School of Law and, in 1992, led the name change of Roger Williams College to Roger Williams University. RWU celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2006.[6]

Donald J. Farish is the tenth president of Roger Williams University, assuming this role on March 29, 2011.[7]

In 2012, Roger Williams University initiated a tuition freeze in which all entering freshmen would have a guarantee that their tuition would not increase for the next four years. The university renewed this promise for all freshmen entering in fall of 2015.[8] As a result of this program, enrollment at the university has been steadily increasing, while enrollment at many peer institutions has been decreasing.[9]


Roger Williams University enrolls approximately 3,800 undergraduate and 850 graduate students in eight schools: the Mario J. Gabelli School of Business; Feinstein College of Arts & Sciences; the School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation; the School of Engineering, Computing & Construction Management; the School of Justice Studies; the School of Education; the School of Continuing Studies; and the School of Law. These schools offer more than 50 liberal arts majors and professional degrees, such as law, architecture, construction management, and historic preservation. The university has a student to faculty ratio of 15:1 while almost half of the classes offered have less than 20 students.[10]

The largest majors are business, management, and marketing (24%); architecture (10%); security, law enforcement, and related protective services (9%); communication and journalism (8%); and psychology (7%).[11]

Roger Williams University emphasizes helping communities through student engagement and experiential learning. Students therefore learn from professionals and stakeholders as well as conventional faculty in order to balance theory learned in classrooms.[12] The Community Partnerships Center facilitates these experiences by creating collaborative learning opportunities with local and regional non-profit and government entities.

Roger Williams University has several degree programs that are unique compared to other colleges and universities in the United States:

School of Art, Architecture, and Historic Preservation

In 2012, the School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation initiated a technology pilot program which led to a partnership with Samsung in the fall of 2013 to install 27-inch touchscreen monitors in classrooms across the university linked to a cloud computing network.[17] The monitors replace traditional projectors and allow students and instructors to directly manipulate images on the screens and has dramatically reduced the need for large-format printing of drawings and posters. The rCloud system hosts CPU-intensive software applications that can be accessed via browser-based client software on- and off-campus. Because the processing for these applications happens in the cloud, students no longer need high-end computers for resource-intensive applications. In addition, the rCloud system has reduced 3-D rendering time for some architectural applications from days to hours.

Student life[edit]

Approximately 63% of students live on campus.[18] 88% of the students are full-time and 14% have a family income of less than $40k. 75% of the student population is white, 5% is Hispanic, and 2% is African American. Less than 1% of the students are from other races or ethnicities.[11]

The university has a weekly campus newspaper, The Hawks' Herald,[19] which publishes approximately 20 issues per academic year, and an FM radio station, WQRI 88.3. The radio station plays everything from college alternative to hip hop. The college's 20 varsity athletic teams play at the Division III level as members of the Commonwealth Coast Conference.

In 2012, Roger Williams University was named as one of the best colleges for food.[20]


Roger Williams University teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III. The Hawks are a member of the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC). Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, lacrosse, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field and wrestling; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field and volleyball. Other sports include indoor track and field, sailing, and there is an equestrian team.

Reputation and campus culture[edit]

Roger Williams University has been ranked by US News and World Report in the top 25% of regional universities in the northern region of the United States[10] Forbes ranks Roger Williams University as 412 (out of 650) overall in the United States, 288 out of all private colleges, and 149 in the Northeast.[21]

According to the US Government’s College Scorecard, 83% of students return after their first year while the 6-year graduation rate is 62% (both figures are above average). The median earnings of students, 10 years after graduation is $47,200, which is above average.[11]

The university established a program in civil discourse, including the journal Reason and Respect, which brought in speakers such as Salman Rushdie, David Gergen, First Minister and Nobel Prize–winner David Trimble, Khaled Hosseini, author of Kite Runner, Bob Geldof of Live Aid, and others to campus. The university has established campuses in London and Florence; collaborates with sister institutions in France, Brazil, Vietnam, and Hong Kong; features a broad portfolio of study-abroad opportunities encompassing over 30 countries; and is home to a Center for Macro Projects and Diplomacy, which brings together engineering, architecture, technology, economic development, and international relations for a common purpose. Furthermore, it was recently recognized as a non-governmental member of the United Nations.

In January 2009, a group of Communication majors worked to create a catalog of video vignettes on sustainability issues; a portion of that work appeared on the PBS special Planet Forward.[22] One of those students, Kyle Toomey, also appeared on the Planet Forward special, which aired on April 15, 2009.[22]

According to the university's newspaper The Hawks' Herald, in 2010 the university's debt decreased, "As of Aug. 31, RWU owed over $146 million in bonds outstanding; this figure reflects a slight decrease in university debt compared to the previous year's figure of over $150 million in bonds owed."[23]

Notable faculty members and alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2016 Market Value of Endow" (PDF). NACUBO. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  2. ^ "Roger Williams University Faculty Composition". College Factual. Retrieved 2016-02-19. 
  3. ^ "U.S. College Staffing Changes". WGBH. Retrieved 2016-02-19. 
  4. ^ "GuideStar Report Generated For: ROGER WILLIAMS UNIVERSITY & ROGER WILLIAMS SCHOOL OF LAW". Guidestar. Retrieved 2016-02-19. 
  5. ^ "Fast Facts". Roger Williams University. Retrieved 2016-02-19. 
  6. ^ "History & Traditions | Roger Williams University". Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  7. ^ "Pdq @ Rwu". 2012-05-21. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  8. ^ "Affordable Excellence". Roger Williams University. Retrieved 2016-02-18. 
  9. ^ "Roger Williams University grows enrollment by freezing tuition". Providence Journal. Retrieved 2016-02-18. 
  10. ^ a b "Roger Williams University". US News and World Report. Retrieved 2016-02-18. 
  11. ^ a b c "Roger Williams University". College Scorecard. Retrieved 2016-02-18. 
  12. ^ "Who We Are". Roger Williams University. Retrieved 2016-02-17. 
  13. ^ "Marine Biology Web". Stonybrook University. Retrieved 2016-02-17. 
  14. ^ "NAAB schools". National Architectural Accrediting Board. Retrieved 2016-02-17. 
  15. ^ "Roger's Revolution: Experiential Education Series #2". Roger Williams University. Retrieved 2016-02-18. 
  16. ^ "NCPE Academic Programs". National Council for Preservation Education. Retrieved 2016-02-17. 
  17. ^ "Roger Williams University Leverages SAMSUNG Technologies". Samsung USA. Retrieved 2016-02-18. 
  18. ^ "Fast Facts". Roger Williams University. Retrieved 2016-02-18. 
  19. ^ The Hawks' Herald
  20. ^ "Brown, Roger Williams Named Best Colleges for Food". GoLocal Prov. Retrieved 2016-02-18. 
  21. ^ "America's Best Colleges". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-02-18. 
  22. ^ a b "Providence Journal | Rhode Island news, sports, weather & more - Providence Journal". 2012-08-20. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  23. ^ Whitmore, Ben (October 6, 2010). "Champagne calls for more sustainable fundraising". The Hawks' Herald. Bristol, RI. Retrieved August 24, 2012. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Jerry Remy Baseball Stats by Baseball Almanac". Retrieved 2012-08-24. 

External links[edit]