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About Us


The purpose of the Institute of Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies at Rhode Island College is:

  1. to support and to promote the Portuguese Studies academic program at Rhode Island College,
  2. to bridge the connection between Rhode Island College and the Lusophone community and
  3. to pursue scholarly and cultural research in the areas of the Portuguese language and Lusophone culture.


The Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies is designed to be a nucleus of interaction for the benefit of Rhode Island College students and the larger Portuguese-speaking community of Rhode Island. Over 10% of Rhode Islanders claim ancestry from a Lusophone country, the highest percentage of any state in the union. The history and contributions of this population are an integral part of the rich fabric of the state.

The Institute strives to function as a locus of cultural, literary, pedagogical and research resources inclusive of the entire Lusophone diaspora. It aims to be a gathering place for cultural events, teacher conferences, literary resources, artistic exhibitions and performing arts productions for not only the matriculated students but also the for enrichment of the Portuguese-speaking community at large. In turn, interaction between the Institute and the community becomes the vehicle by which students will be able to establish contacts and maximize career opportunities and community participation.


The Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies is a non-traditional academic center at Rhode Island College. It was approved for permanent status by the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education on June 28, 2010.

The Institute is most closely allied with the Portuguese Studies academic program in the Department of Modern Languages. It operates under the aegis of the Vice-President of Academic Affairs and reports directly to the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

The Institute is an affiliate of the David E. Sweet Center for Public Policy at Rhode Island College which acts as it primary contact on matters of management and governance.

The Rhode Island College Foundation serves as the fiscal agent of the Institute.

Faculty and Staff Biographies

photo of Silvia Oliveira
Silvia Oliveira, Ph.D.
Director of IPLWS and Associate Professor of Portuguese Studies, Modern Languages Department

Sílvia Oliveira (PhD, University of California Santa Barbara) is Associate Professor of Portuguese Studies at Rhode Island College, where she coordinates the Portuguese Studies Program in the Modern Languages Department and is Director of the Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies. She has published and presented on the Portuguese short story of the 1960s, Neo- and Post-Neorealism in Portugal, Aesthetics and Politics in Portuguese, Lusophone African and Brazilian Literature, and pedagogy of Portuguese language and Lusophone cultures. Her current research interests and publications include Portuguese-American literature and the pedagogy and politics of ethnic studies; and Portuguese-American civic organizing in the US.

photo of Marie Fraley
Marie R. Fraley
Director (Retired 2018)

Marie R. Fraley was the Director (2013-2018) of the Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies where she previously held positions of Interim Director (2009), Associate Director (2007) and Policy Consultant (2006). Her interests include non-profit governance, Azorean genealogy and the political participation of Luso-Americans in Rhode Island. She earned a professional certificate in Non-Profit Studies from the Feinstein Institute for Philanthropic Studies at Rhode Island College and is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFT). She has been recognized as a Partner in Philanthropy by the AFT and received the RIC Alumni Service Award for her fundraising efforts on behalf of the Portuguese Studies Endowment Fund and for her volunteer work toward the establishment of the Institute in 2006. She is Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Portuguese American Leadership Council of the United States (PALCUS) and a past president of the celebrations of the Day of Portugal in Rhode Island. In her previous career, she was a Speech-Language Pathologist in Rhode Island public schools for over 20 years working with students with learning and communication disorders. Mrs. Fraley earned B.A. and M.S. degrees in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Rhode Island and studied Linguistics at the graduate level at Brown University.

Student Interns



Academic Advisory Council

The Academic Advisory Council of the IPLWS serves as an interdisciplinary advisory body whose purpose is to provide input toward fulfilling the academic and scholarly objectives of the Institute's mission.

Ellen Bigler, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Educational Studies

Valerie Endress, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Communication
Director, American Democracy Project, Rhode Island College

Anabela Resende da Maia, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology

Peter Karibe Mendy, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of History and Africana Studies

Silvia Oliveira, Ph.D., Chair (ex officio)
Associate Professor of Portuguese Studies, Department of Modern Languages Director, Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies

Amy Barlow, MLIS and MA
Associate Professor and librarian, James P. Adams Library

Community Advisory Board

The Community Advisory Board of IPLWS is a diversified body of community members who provide information, guidance and support to the Institute on matters of community interests and needs.

The Honorable Paul J. Tavares - Honorary Chair
Former General Treasurer of the State of RI

Helena Abu-Raya, ‘96
Sr. Business Program Technologist
President (2006-2007), Club Amigos of Boa-Vista
Area Governor (2005-2006), Toastmasters International

Ailton Barbosa, ’10
M.A. International Relations and Chinese Politics
CLACS Outreach Coordinator, Brown University

Isabel Claro, ’95 – Chair
Teacher of Portuguese, Cumberland H.S., Cumberland, RI​

Natalia Furtado
Allstate Insurance Agency Owner, North Providence, RI

Elizabeth Fasteson
Guidance Counselor, Charles E. Shea H.S., Pawtucket, RI

Carlos Fernandes
Former President of the Associação da Comunidade da Guiné-Bissau - EUA

Conselheiro João Luís Morgado Pacheco
Conselheiro, Comunidades Portuguesas dos E.U.A. e Bermudas
Past President, Casa dos Açores da Nova Inglaterra
Realtor Associate, Exit Realty

Paulo J. Silva, '78
Former Assistant Principal, Calcutt Middle School, Central Falls
East Providence Public Library Board of Trustees, Vice-Chair

J. Leonel Teixeira
Former Vice-consul of Portugal to Providence​​​​​

Page last updated: July 10, 2020