RHODE ISLAND SCHOOL OF DESIGN has named two deans to lead the school's fine arts and liberal arts efforts. Sheri Wills, professor of art and art history at the University of Rhode Island, has been appointed dean of fine arts, while Daniel Cavicchi has been elevated from acting dean of liberal arts to the permanent deanship.
PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island School of Design has filled two leadership positions in the fine arts and liberal arts.
Sheri Wills, a professor of art and art history at the University of Rhode Island, has been named dean of fine arts, effective in August. Wills is also director of the interdisciplinary film/media program at URI’s Harrington School of Communications & Media. Daniel Cavicchi has been promoted from acting dean of liberal arts to the permanent position, effective Tuesday.
Both Wills and Cavicchi will play key roles in shaping RISD’s future, according to the school’s press release.
The appointments come as an international search to replace former President John Maeda continues, though “they are not connected to the search,” Jaime Marland, RISD’s director of public relations, said. She referred all question about the search for a 17th president to updates on the school’s website.
According to RISD, Wills will lead 10 fine arts departments and work with academic leaders “to shape a compelling vision for the future … in a global context.”
Likewise, Cavicchi, in his capacity as acting dean, already had created a platform for the liberal arts at RISD, and will continue to build RISD’s reputation “locally and globally” for the three departments that he is in charge of. Those include “History of Art + Visual Culture,” “History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences” and “Literary Arts + Studies.”
Wills’ experience includes leading work on an accreditation report during a period of change at Cooper Union in her role as an American Council on Education fellow there.
A winner of awards from both RISD and Brown University for excellence in teaching, Cavicchi has taught at RISD since 1996. Most recently named interim dean in 2013, he first served as an assistant professor in 2001, an associate professor in 2007, and a department head in 2011.
Cavicchi, who blogs about “fandom,” has written three books, including, most recently, “Listening and Longing: Music Lovers in the Age of Barnum,” published in 2011.
The last official action of the Board of Trustees regarding the presidential search was on May 20, when they formally began by establishing an 11-member search committee and creating eight advisory groups to focus on specific components of the search. RISD also hired the search firm of Isaacson, Miller, which has offices in Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
The presidential search is in the stage of making advisory group appointments. That would be followed by recruiting and identifying candidates, conducting preliminary and final interviews, and selecting a new leader, according to the website.