President’s Message: A Time for Renewal

President Sanchez at graduation

Dear Reader,

As I greeted students walking across the commencement stage to receive their diplomas in May, I felt a great sense of pride as well as relief. It’s good to be back, I thought to myself. 

Of course, there was still evidence of the pandemic that forced us to empty campus in the first place. The students were socially distanced on the track field, with only two guests allowed. We all remained masked. And instead of handshakes, I congratulated our Class of 2021 with elbow bumps.  

Despite the health and safety precautions, however, it was a welcome return to campus after a school year like no other. We’re looking forward to an even warmer welcome and complete return in the fall, when we will resume in-person teaching and learning. Our residence halls will once again house the many students here for the full college experience. Our library, dining facilities and study lounges will again become gathering places. 

I think I speak for our entire campus community when I say that these simple signs of normalcy have been sorely missed over the past 15 months. I, for one, will never again take for granted the hustle and bustle of students and faculty passing through the quad between classes. 

We’re entering a time of renewal at Rhode Island College. After all the sacrifices and interruptions brought on by the pandemic, we are ready to be bold and move forward into our post-COVID future. Even though we’re looking ahead to fall, it will feel a bit like spring as campus blossoms with life. 

All around us there will be signs that our college is flourishing. Horace Mann Hall is during a complete renovation, transforming into a modern, cutting-edge space in which to train the next generation of Rhode Island teachers. Soon we will break ground on a similar transformation of the Clarke Science Building, approved by Rhode Island voters in a ballot initiative that demonstrates the value they see in our life science programs. Even our café will undergo a metamorphosis, reemerging as the “Bee’stro,” a bee-themed dining concept that makes great use of the RIC honey produced at our Bee Education Center. 

In these pages, too, you will see the incredible momentum we’re building as we prepare to return to campus. We ask faculty and a RIC mental health expert about what to expect from college life after the pandemic (pgs. 32 and 35). We speak with Rhode Island’s new lieutenant governor, a RIC alumna (pg. 64). We meet two members of our military (pg. 26), one an alumna and the other a current student, who are working together to get Rhode Islanders vaccinated. Perhaps most importantly, we explore some of the amazing stories and incredible accomplishments of our students (pgs. 53-57), who are living proof of the talent, resilience, and boundless potential of Rhode Island College students. 

Whether you are a current student or alumna, faculty, or staff member, or even just a friend of the college, I look forward to welcoming you back to campus this fall. I hope you will pay us a visit, and, in the meantime, I hope you enjoy the magazine.  

Yours in education,
Frank D. Sánchez
Rhode Island College