NEW: Roger Williams President Farish Passes Away at 75

Friday, July 06, 2018


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RWU President Donald Farish dies at age 75

Roger Williams University President Donald Farish passed away on Thursday of a sudden illness while at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, according to a press release from the university.

Farish served as the 10th president of the university and announced in May that he would be retiring in June of 2019.

“Don Farish will be honored beyond the campus for his clear-eyed understanding of the challenges faced by higher education and his bold proposals to meet them. At the University, he will be remembered for his eloquence, intelligence, wit and for his deep concern for our students,” said RWU Provost Andrew Workman.

RWU Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Jerome Williams added, “Don Farish was an extraordinary leader for Roger Williams University. He not only had great vision for the University but great vision for higher education in general. His efforts to expand experiential learning while freezing tuition for our students was innovative and moved the University forward. He did this with exceptional leadership, transparency and a respect for everyone. He will be greatly missed.”

About Farish

Farish was named the president of Roger Williams in 2011. 

Over the course of his career, Farish emerged as a national voice for reform in higher education, launching a blog called “Higher Ed in Crisis: A President’s Take.” His essays have appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed and The Hechinger Report. And just this year, he wrote an eight-part blog series titled “Can Higher Education Solve America’s Economic Crisis?”

Under Farish’s leadership, the RWU community launched The Vision Project, with more than 20 committees of faculty, staff, students and trustees working together over six months to articulate a bold, new core purpose.

The Community Partnerships Center has involved 2,811 students in a total of 259 community-engaged projects over the last seven years.

In 2016, RWU doubled the size of its presence in downtown Providence, and the new campus at One Empire Plaza.

The RWU School of Continuing Studies is partnering with the first Gateway to College National Network program in Rhode Island, offering students who have left high school before graduation a chance to earn a high school diploma and college credit.

One year ago, RWU hired its first-ever Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Ame O. Lambert.

In January 2018, more than 300 RWU students, faculty, staff and community members gathered for “Thriving RWU 2030: A Summit on Diversity and Inclusion.”

Prior to RWU

Farish served as the president of Rowan University for 13 years before coming to Roger Williams.

Farish earned a Ph.D. in biology from Harvard University in 1970 and later a juris doctor from the University of Missouri in 1976. After early appointments at the University of Missouri and the University of Rhode Island, he progressed to Sonoma State University in California, serving as dean of the School of Natural Sciences from 1983 to 1990, and provost and academic vice president from 1990 to 1998.

Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Dr. Farish immigrated to the United States after earning his bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of British Columbia; in 1966, he completed a master of science in entomology at North Carolina State University before heading to Harvard for his doctoral studies.


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