Historical context and unique characteristics
Rhode Island College was founded in 1854 as the Rhode Island Normal School. In 1920 the Rhode Island
General Assembly established the institution as a four-year college, Rhode Island College of Education.
Master's degrees were first conferred in 1924. In 1960,
after relocating the College to its current campus on the border of Providence and North Providence, the
General Assembly approved the development of the College as a general, comprehensive institution.
Reflecting this broader purpose the name was changed to Rhode Island College. Today the College is
primarily a four-year undergraduate institution. With an enrollment predominantly from Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut, the institution historically has served as a "College of Opportunity" for first-generation college students. It
serves over 9000 students in a broad range of undergraduate degree programs in the arts and sciences and
in the areas of community, public, and social services, and it has a sizable graduate enrollment. See History of the College. RIC faculty are unionized, and the Local 1819 of AFT is an important partner in policy development and maintaining quality programs.
The Rhode Island College Fact Book, published yearly by the Office of Institutional
Research and Planning, includes further demographic information about the undergraduate and graduate
populations. Some statistics:
- Approximately 50% of Rhode Island College freshmen are first generation college students. The median reported family income for freshmen is $58,545. Seventy percent intend
to work ten or more hours while attending the College.
- 82% of the freshmen are White/Caucasian; the freshmen class includes Hispanic (13%), African-American/Black (7%), Asian/Asian-American (3%),
American Indian/Alaskan Native (3%), Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders (0.4%), and Other
Rhode Island College is one of three public institutions of higher education in Rhode Island
(including the Community College and the University of Rhode Island) under the auspices of the Board of Governors for
Higher Education. The College's mission statement differentiates it from the two other state
institutions and provides clear guidance for administrative decision making.
Rhode Island is the smallest by area state in the Union. Its entire K-12 teaching force consists of 13277 individuals. The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) has a regulatory authority over teacher preparation programs, carried out by Office of Educator Quality and Certification. The state program approval (RIPA) is currently suspended due to redesign of the teacher certification system.