Memories and Condolences

President Farish embodied so much of what the world needs – his openness to ideas, the way he listened intently and purposefully to those who spoke to him, his involvement and dedication to others’ passions and pursuits, his sincere kindness and ability to exist on the same level as you in conversation. RWU really lucked out in the time he was there, as he was so much more than a president – he was a really good person.

— Jesse Ramos '14, Secondary Education and English Literature


‎Rhode Island lost a wonderful, wise champion for higher education with President Don Farish’s passing. President Farish embodied the ideals that Roger Williams set forth for Rhode Island, and Roger Williams University thrived under his thoughtful leadership. My heart goes out to Dr. Farish’s family and the countless members of the Roger Williams University community whose lives he changed for the better.

— U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse


WaterFire and its Board of Directors are dedicating this Saturday’s lighting of WaterFire to honor President Donald Farish of Roger Williams University for his inspiring leadership and transformative impact on our community and nation. President Farish loved the University, its students and the challenges he faced in building the institution. He was an articulate and active national spokesman for the importance of higher education and the necessity of keeping college both relevant and affordable. Under Farish’s leadership, the University flourished and expanded, enlarging its spheres of engagement in many directions.

— WaterFire Executive Artistic Director Barnaby Evans


He was a huge champion of the performing arts with his wife Maia. I remember that they would come to all of our performances. Although my fondest memory of him will be when he served me 2 servings of biscuits and gravy at late-night breakfast after I said that it was my favorite. He was a wonderful University president and he will be missed.

— Nicole Wielga '12, Theatre


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.

— RWU Interim President Andrew Workman


I am deeply saddened by the passing of President Farish. He was truly a scholar and a gentleman who touched the lives of countless students, faculty and members of the Roger Williams community. His dedication to discovery, learning and service to others will be deeply missed.

— U.S. Sen. Jack Reed


Four years ago, as I tightly hugged my freshman son one last time before heading home to New Jersey, through my tears I noticed President and Mrs. Farish. They saw me and Mrs. Farish said, “Don’t worry, we’ll take good care of him.” President Farish smiled at me and I knew he was in great hands at RWU. We will be forever grateful to both of them for the nurturing community they created, which will live on for so many others.

— Donna Rice Macaluso 


I'm incredibly saddened by this news. President Farish's contributions to Roger Williams University— and our whole state — will not be forgotten. Andy and I are thinking of his family, friends and the RWU community during this time.

— Rhode Island Gov. Gina M. Raimondo


President Farish led the University to serve its students and the wider Bristol and Rhode Island community in purposeful ways. He advanced higher education, creating significant roles for universities to play in their communities and opening avenues for student to gain experience across disciplines and to apply these skills to improving the world.

Elizabeth Francis, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, and Touba Ghadessi, Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities


Since President Farish took over in 2011, Roger Williams University has grown by leaps and bounds. He literally redefined the ideals for which this institution stands when he articulated a new visionary goal: ‘To build the university the world needs now.’

— U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline


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.

— RWU Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Jerome Williams


I am deeply saddened by the passing of my good friend, RWU President Donald Farish. As a leader in academia and community champion, his passionate work to uplift lives led to fruitful partnerships that opened doors for students and Providence communities. President Farish will be missed as an invaluable partner to the city, and we will cherish the legacy that he has left behind.

— Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza


Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and the whole RWU community. He was the first one at Open House (we shared a cupcake and some nice conversation) who made us feel like Shelby was at the right place.

— Patti McInnis Rose P'20


President Farish was an incredible visionary, leader and person. I felt honored to have him as RWU’s President both as a student and alumna. His leadership was transformational and will have a lasting legacy at RWU.

Nibal Awad '12, RWU Alumni Association Executive Board Member and Criminal Justice major


Working at the RIHS, I had the pleasure of getting to know President Farish, not only through his work but through his love and enjoyment of Rhode Island. He was a thoughtful and determined leader who recognized the ways in which the past informed the present, and he was always conscious of how his decisions would shape the future. And he did, in so many ways, shape the future of Rhode Island through his work here. He has changed the path for so many in our state, and even our country, by making choices that increased access to education by removing barriers to pursuing a college degree. He believed in the transformative nature of education and inspired so many of us by his words and deeds. He carved out a distinct place for himself in Rhode Island's history... His contributions will endure.

— C. Morgan Grefe, Executive Director of Rhode Island Historical Society


My thoughts are with the friends and family of President Farish and the entire Roger Williams University community during this difficult time. His remarkable contributions to the University and higher education will never be forgotten.

— U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin


Such sad news and a huge loss, not only for RWU, but for the entire Rhode Island community. President Farish expanded our view of the role of higher education and the role of RWU in the community. He was humble, accessible and supported individual intiatives that were in line with his vision for educating engaged and enlightened citizens.

— Edgar Adams, RWU Professor of Architecture / Urban Design