Dr. Quenby O. Hughes

Quenby Hughes
Department, Office, or School
Faculty of Arts and Sciences
  • Dean - Arts and Sciences

Since 2023, Quenby Olmsted Hughes has served as Dean of Arts and Sciences at Rhode Island College and is a Professor in the RIC History Department.  She is deeply proud of the College’s Arts and Science programs, faculty, students and staff, and celebrates the transformative role liberal arts education plays in the lives of all RIC students, particularly in the lives of first-generation college students.
A proud alum of the RIC History and Honors program, she returned to the College in 2004 after completing her A.M and PhD in Modern American History at Harvard University, as well as a two-year graduate fellowship with a focus on nonprofits at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Hauser Institute for Civil Society. Her scholarly interests in nongovernmental organizations and the international relations of the labor movement are reflected in her book, In the Interest of Democracy: The Rise and Fall of the Early Cold War Alliance Between the American Federation of Labor and the Central Intelligence Agency (2011). Fascinated as well by the history of social movements; immigration; science, technology and medicine; and in the American West (particularly environmental history), Hughes enjoys introducing her students to those subjects and to the craft of historical writing.  In recognition for her excellence in teaching and service, she was awarded the 2019 RIC Alumni Faculty Award.

Before and after becoming Dean, she has been an active leader and participant on a wide variety and number of College committees created to help further the College’s commitment to excellence and student success.  In particular, she was the College’s inaugural First Year Seminar Coordinator, serving in that capacity between 2012 and 2015.  Between 2016 and 2020, she also served the College as President of the RIC/AFT faculty association.

She lives in Providence with her husband and two children. 


A.M. and Ph.D., Harvard University, Modern American History. 
B.A., History, Rhode Island College.

Research Summary

History of social movements and nonprofit organizations in the United States (such as labor unions, reform associations, neighborhood groups, etc.), especially in the development of social capital and democracy.

History of nongovernmental organization involvement in international relations.

Social and immigration history, particularly that of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

History of science, technology, and medicine (particularly the impact of innovations in those fields upon everyday life and labor).

Political and Institutional History, specifically that of the labor movement, American communism and anticommunism.