Oral History Interview with Rosanne Somerson, June 10, 2021

Oral History Interview with Rosanne Somerson, June 10, 2021


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Interview of Rosanne Somerson conducted by Andrew Martinez at the President's House at 132 Bowen Street in Providence, RI on June 10, 2021. Somerson speaks of her time in Denmark and her interest in photography as a high school student, leading to her working with Tage Frid as a student at RISD. Somerson also recalls working as a provost for RISD and establishing the Furniture Design department due to her struggles with the Industrial Design and Sculpture departments as a student. Along with this, Somerson discusses her many successes as president of RISD, including plans such as the Social Equity and Inclusion Plan and her goals in fundraising and sustainability.

Biographical/Historical Note

Rosanne Somerson is a woodworker, furniture designer, and educator who served as the President of the Rhode Island School of Design from 2015-2021, the first alumna to be named President. She received her BFA in Industrial Design at RISD in 1976 and co-founded the Furniture department in 1995, a department she ran until 2010. Somerson was named the assistant provost of RISD in 2010 before being promoted to serve as interim provost in 2011.

Somerson is interviewed by Andrew Martinez, a RISD archivist, on June 10, 2021. Produced by Josephine Sittenfeld and Andrew Martinez.

Oral History Interview with Rosanne Somerson, June 10, 2021



Date of Interview



Andrew Martinez


Rosanne Somerson

Run Time

93 min.

Original Format(s)



Rhode Island School of Design, Rosanne Somerson, president, RISD Oral Histories, oral history, archives, interview


Art and Design