Back in March, the design world was abuzz as the faculty at the Rhode Island School of Design voted “No Confidence” in its president, John Maeda, just over two years into his short tenure at the school. A few days later, writer and one-time staff member Natalia Ilyin released a much-passed-around post with her opinions on how both Maeda and RISD were to blame for the failures of his leadership. But then it seemed, everywhere outside of on-campus, the story went relatively quiet. Maeda seemed determined to stay on and make things right and the school wasn’t quite ready to kick him out. Now Gina Macris at the Providence Journal has filed this terrific story on what’s been changing at RISD since those dramatic days in March. According to the story, Maeda took the vote to heart and immediately began reaching out, asking how the administration and the faculty could work together more efficiently and trying to get to the bottom of how things had become so heated between the two entities. It’s an interesting read, learning about the up-hill battles still underway at RISD under the command of a design luminary with no previous administrative experience. It will be all the more interesting to see how everything plays out in the end.
Anne Tate, a professor of architecture, said she opposed the no-confidence vote as ill-timed and strategically ill-advised. But since then, she said, “the administration has been bending over backwards to understand what the problems are and address them.”