Award-winning Poet Named New President of Rhode Island School of Design

Incoming RISD President Crystal Williams. | Photo by Jo Sittenfeld

Selected from more than 100 candidates, Crystal Williams, award-winning poet who currently leads Boston University’s diversity and inclusion efforts, has been named the next president of the Rhode Island School of Design

Michael Spalter, the board’s chair, said the school was looking for a leader with “receptivity, an aesthetic sensibility, the skill to communicate in a community that trades in images and materials, and something even more intangible: a deep, abiding empathy that can bind us all together.”

“We found all of that and more in Crystal Williams,” Spalter said in a statement.

Williams’ accomplishments include publishing of four collections of poetry. This work is part of the Museum of Modern Art’s Poetry Project. She serves at Boston University since 2017 as vice president and associated provost for community and inclusion. She has also served in leadership roles at Bates College in Maine and Reed College in Oregon.

In a statement, Williams called it a “profound honor” to be named president, adding that “art, education and equity and justice are the three foundational focuses of my life and everything about me.”

– Ella Breedlove