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  • 350th Anniversary of the Rhode Island Colonial Charter

Roger Williams University Celebrates the 350th Anniversary of the Rhode Island Colonial Charter

The principles and philosophies carried throughout the University date back to our namesake, Roger Williams. Founder of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Roger Williams was the first major figure in colonial America to forcefully argue the need for democracy, religious freedom and understanding of America's native cultures.

The University has dedicated itself to the ideals advocated by Roger Williams himself: education, freedom and tolerance. Through his scholarship in language, theology and law, Williams’s life reflected the value of learning and teaching. The University honors his legacy by modeling a community in which diverse people and diverse ideas are valued, intellectual achievement is celebrated and civic responsibility is expected.

Throughout 2013, we celebrated the 350th anniversary of the Rhode Island Colonial Charter and our proud relationship to the State's founder and all he stands for via many special events planned in commemoration of this special occasion. 

Lucas Mason-Brown

Code Used By RI Founding Father Is Finally Cracked

In March 2013, Lucas Mason-Brown addressed the University community as part of the Mary Tefft-White Cultural Center Lecture Series. Mason-Brown is the cryptographer who recently deciphered a handwritten code developed by Roger Williams. Historians call the now-readable writings the most significant addition to Williams's scholarship in a generation or more.

Julian Bonder

Architect Memorializes Abolition of Slavery

On April 11, 2013, Professor of Architecture Julian Bonder addressed the University community to speak about the Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery. Sited on the banks of the Loire River in the heart of the city, the Memorial is the product of Wodiczko + Bonder, a partnership created by Architect and Professor Julian Bonder and Krzysztof Wodiczko of the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Religion & State

Narrative and Negotiation: 
Agency, Religion and the State

The 4th annual conference on Religion and the State was held at Roger Williams University on April 12-14, 2013. The core ideas and theories in this conference spanned various continents and people working from the principles of Roger Williams in regards to engagement and individual voice.

Roger Williams Competition

Roger Williams: The Man and His Legacy

This scholarly competition challenged RWU students to explore the story of Roger Williams, the man, and his many contributions to Rhode Island, the United States, and the world. The speech/presentation component of the competition took place as part of the Students Academic Showcase and Honors celebration during the week of April 22, 2013. Read the winning essays here.

Rhode Island Charter

RI Charter: Understanding and Significance

In the official kickoff to RWU's celebrations of the anniversary of the Charter, on May 9, 2013, five members of Governor Chafee's Rhode Island 1663 Colonial Charter Commission participated in a panel discussion, moderated by Scott Mackay, political commentator for RI Public Radio. Bringing unique perspectives to the document, they talked about the quest undertaken by Roger Williams and John Clarke as they sought to secure this charter from King Charles II, a document with significant influence on other colonial charters and on the Constitution of the United States.

Morris Dees

Civil Rights Leader Addressed School of Law Grads

Morris Dees – a preeminent civil rights attorney and founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center – delivered the Commencement address and earned an honorary degree at the Roger Williams University School of Law ceremony on May 17, 2013.

John M. Barry

Commencement Address Featured University Namesake

Award-winning author and historian John M. Barry – acclaimed biographer of Roger Williams himself – addressed the Roger Williams University Class of 2013 and received an honorary degree during Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 18, 2013.

Common Reading

Nathaniel Philbrick Examines American History

As part of the 2013 Common Reading program, award-winning author and historian Nathaniel Philbrick delivered a lecture on early American history based on his books, "Mayflower" – the 2013 Common Reading book selection – and "The Battle of Bunker Hill" on October 3, 2013.

Ray Rickman

Mary Tefft White Series: Talking in the Library with Historian Ray Rickman

Ray Rickman, president of the Rickman Group, is the former president of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society and secretary of the Rhode Island Historical Society. He delivered a lecture titled, “How Providence Became a City Because of the Hardscrabble and Snowtown Race Riots of 1824 and 1831,” on November 5, 2013.


The Equal Rights Amendment: 30 Years Later

The conference held at Roger Williams University on November 15-16, 2013, brought together scholars from areas of history, law, gender studies, literature, political science, and other disciplines that consider the cultural, political, and legal ramifications of the failure of the ERA.

Pay Attention to Roger

Pay Attention to Roger

As Roger Williams University joined the State of Rhode Island in leading the 350th anniversary celebration of the 1663 Rhode Island Colonial Charter throughout 2013, we invited members of the community to join us in reviving the legacy of Roger Williams, whose teachings and philosophies were integral to the foundation of America and should generate pride across the university named in his honor. For a glimpse into his life and legacy, read RWU Magazine’s feature article, "The Renaissance of Roger Williams" – or enjoy a lively debate of the merits of Williams’s work from history and legal experts via "The Experts Weigh In: Why You Should Pay Attention to Roger."