Presidential Initiatives

“Part of our mission as a higher education institution is to create the learning environment our students need, exposing them to new ideas and multiple perspectives so they become leaders and engaged citizens equipped with a diversity and depth of knowledge, experiences, and critical thinking and listening skills to help confront and solve the world’s urgent problems.”

-President Ioannis Miaoulis 

President Miaoulis has instituted initiatives that are crucial in fostering a clear and compelling commitment to internal and external community engagement as a top priority. He has forged partnerships with local organizations, governments, and businesses, creating a platform for collaboration that benefits the community through shared resources and expertise.

President Miaoulis's initiatives have provided financial support and resources, allowing the University to invest in faculty proposals, outreach programs, volunteer efforts, and service-learning projects that directly impact the community's well-being, serving as a catalyst for positive social change, bridging the gap between the academic institution, the community it serves, and the world we live in, demonstrating the University's responsibility as a civic anchor and catalyst for positive social change.

Strategic Action Plan

President Miaoulis launched RWU's Strategic Action Plan in 2021. This plan is the culmination of years of dedicated work of hundreds of faculty, staff, and students, alongside the guidance of Trustees and boards of advisors. Five strategic priorities emerged, forming the guiding framework for collective, divisional, and individual initiatives across the university: Academic Excellence, Engaged Learning, Student Success, Thriving Community, and Sustainable Futures.

Strategic Action Plan

Powerful Combinations

Powerful Combinations are the intentional pairing of academic programs – double major, major + minor(s), and also the pairing of classroom-based learning with dynamic, real-world learning – that creates a distinctive and valuable experience for RWU students.

It’s why over 80% of RWU students graduate with more than one academic program, and 100% graduate with at least one engaged learning experience (internship, research, service, etc.).

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Access

The Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion serves as a catalyst for our institutional DEI efforts, amplifying long-standing efforts across RWU campuses. In the 2019-20 academic year, Institutional planning processes – including the Strategic Action Planning process and Equity Action Plan development – reaffirmed these values and institutional direction.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Access

Building a Culture of Communications

President Miaoulis has worked to bring the community together through engagement and dialogue during his tenure. Some of his recent initiatives include:

  • Developing institutional centers of excellence. Connect leadership groups to unite our campuses, including DEI, Academic Affairs, Retention, Graduate Programs, and STEAM.
  • Creating meaningful points of connection, learning, and sharing. Engage the community with faculty-specific assemblies, sessions, and small-group gatherings throughout the academic year, including lunch with President Miaoulis.
  • Launching the RWU Resources & Support intranet. This online resource was designed to provide RWU faculty and staff with one easy gateway to various administrative resources across the university and provide opportunities for feedback, to engage with the university, and to ask questions.

Announcements and Speeches

June 29, 2023

Dear RWU community,

I am writing about today’s Supreme Court decision, which effectively prevents the consideration of race in the college admission process.

It is essential to the mission of Roger Williams University to foster a diverse student body, faculty and staff and to ensure a sense of belonging, inclusion and a thriving community that values and respects diverse perspectives and ideas. While we will abide by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, the decision does not change who we are as a university or the diverse community we are working to build and aspire to become. RWU remains committed to recruiting and supporting a diverse student community, and we will continue to uphold our values and commitments in our efforts.

Social justice is in RWU’s DNA. It is embedded in our undergraduate general education curriculum with specific DEI learning outcomes, and in the justice-driven work of our students and faculty through community-engaged projects, research, advocacy and legal practice, across our undergraduate majors, graduate programs, School of Law, and University College. It is the driving force of the Roger Pledge, the university’s ongoing antiracism campaign which calls on every one of us to step up as an ally and advocate for our BIPOC community. It is further why we implemented a comprehensive bias training program for our senior leadership, managers and supervisors across the university. It is why all new first-year, transfer and graduate students participate in our required “DEI at RWU” program and why we asked our students to take a Diverse Learning Environments survey to evaluate our inclusive practices, learning outcomes and campus climate, so we can keep making progress.

Diversity, equity, inclusion and access are the foundation of our institutional operations and a central tenet within RWU’s Strategic Action Plan and Equity Action Plan. Building a student and employee community that reflects the diversity of our nation is a part of who we are and our work in becoming an antiracist institution. Access to higher education is transformational because it opens doors that lead to better lives and career opportunities, and thus is vital to the health of our society. Part of our mission as a higher education institution is to create the learning environment our students need, exposing them to new ideas and multiple perspectives, so they become leaders and engaged citizens equipped with a diversity and depth of knowledge, experiences, and critical thinking and listening skills to help confront and solve the world’s urgent problems.

In the weeks ahead, we will come together as a university to support each other. We will be sharing details soon for various ways we will come together in support and solidarity to discuss the impact of this ruling. The first opportunity will be a Breathe & Belong community forum, to which all are invited, on Thursday, July 6 at 1:00 p.m. in the Outdoor Classroom space behind the Marine and Natural Sciences (MNS) building; if there is inclement weather, it will be held in the all-purpose space in the Intercultural Center. The Breathe & Be session will be an opportunity to come together in community to process the SCOTUS decision and talk about its impact personally and professionally, including what it may mean for the work we do. We will hold another Breathe & Be session at the beginning of the fall semester for those who can’t join us on the Bristol campus on July 6.


October 18, 2021

As we launch this strategic planning process, we usher in the next chapter of RWU with a unified vision that will ensure our students are prepared to succeed in a rapidly changing world. The world our students will enter requires problem-solvers that can navigate complex social, economic, environmental and civic challenges that no single industry or profession can solve. As an institution of higher education, we have a distinct responsibility to prepare our students to be lifelong learners and agile thinkers who can design solutions and translate ideas into action. 

With our unique mix of liberal arts and professional programs, top-notch faculty and staff, the state’s only law school, and hubs of innovation in Providence and Bristol, Rhode Island, we are poised to align our efforts and provide what the world needs from a modern, comprehensive university. We will continually seek new partners, adapt our strategies, and make a difference with the communities and organizations we serve. It is what we are called to do, and is the type of engaged learning and leadership we expect of every RWU student throughout their educational and professional journey. 

Over the past few years, hundreds of faculty, staff, and students along with input and guidance from our Trustees and various boards of advisors have participated in working groups and various other aspects of strategic planning that have ensured we connect our past to our future. Five strategic priorities have emerged that provide a guiding framework for the years ahead for our collective, divisional, and individual initiatives across the university. 

Academic Excellence, Engaged Learning, Student Success, Thriving Community and Sustainable Futures 

To realize our vision, we must embrace an iterative planning process and a culture of assessment that allows us to innovate and act in ways that will challenge the status quo, move us beyond the walls of our campuses, and push the boundaries of student learning to new heights. We will invest in our faculty and staff to design meaningful experiences for our students that continue to strengthen the RWU brand and our recognition and reputation. We will embed equity into our institutional policies, practices, services and programs to ensure our community feels a sense of inclusion and belonging. And we will seek ways to engage and collaborate with the RWU community and with our local, regional and global communities and industry partners to provide the diverse, real-world experiences our students need to succeed. 

I invite all members of the RWU community and our partners to join us as we write this next chapter together. Let us draw inspiration from the word “hope” and the symbol of an anchor inscribed on the State of Rhode Island seal to make this pledge: We stand here today, anchored firmly within our core values, guided by a rich history, full of hope and optimism for an amazing future together, in service to our students, our region, and the world. 

Ioannis N. Miaoulis 

June 9, 2020

Dear RWU community, 

As the nation comes together in a moment of solidarity and reflection around George Floyd’s funeral today, I am reflective of this being an incredible time of learning and growth for the country and for me personally. I have been listening, reading emails sent to me by students, faculty, staff and alumni, educating myself, and growing toward a deeper understanding of the issues. RWU can and will do better. As university leaders, we must recommit to placing equity, justice and inclusion at the center of our values as an institution.  

While the complexities of systemic racism and oppression do not lend themselves to simplistic statements, let me say this: Black lives matter. Systemic violence against Black lives is unjust and wrong. And we must do our part to end systemic injustice where it exists on our campus. Higher education plays a vital role in raising awareness, encouraging open and honest dialogue, asking the difficult questions and owning the difficult answers about how we contribute to structural violence and the enduring legacy of racism. 

What I have heard from many of you is that now is the time for action, not more words. We are at a critical inflection point in our national history and in our our institutional history for diverse opinions: in both settings, this is a time of powerful momentum for change. From within our own campus community, I have been urged by the voices of our students, alumni and employees who press for swift and immediate actions.

These are the first steps RWU is moving forward with now to take action: 

  • Students will partner with the Chief Diversity Officer and other colleagues to co-create a campus community conversation. This dialogue will be held virtually on Wednesday, June 24. The entire RWU community is invited to join this important discussion and reflection. More details will be shared on how to join the event. 
  • I recognize, however, that this work starts with me and with my leadership team. That is why I am committing that University leadership will participate in diversity training with social justice educators Kathy Obear and Jamie Washington this fall. And we commit to further equity-capacity-building sessions annually. 
  • We will soon share information about the urgent process to search for our next Chief Diversity Officer. We will use this process to engage a national firm to listen to what is working, what is not, to shape the position, and to continue to support diversity, equity and inclusion work across the University, University College, and School of Law and to identify the next places we need to go as a campus community. 
  • We will ensure that new incoming students this fall and going forward will complete a comprehensive social justice education during Orientation before classes begin. We further commit to accelerating the expansion of racial justice education for all students to include addressing the history of Bristol and Providence’s integral roles in the slave trade. 
  • The Office of Student Life will partner with students to revise the bias response process to ensure an equitable and just system. Student Life, the Intercultural Center, and Academic Affairs will work collaboratively this summer with student organizers to assess and implement specific action ideas. 
  • The ongoing advancement and implementation of the Equity Action Plan must continue now and into the upcoming year. Each section of the Equity Action Plan has been assigned a Vice President to champion the work, ensuring accountability that these vital actions will move forward. Additionally, the different sections of the equity plan will be overseen by the following shepherding groups: 
    • Student Access, Success and Equity: Leading for Change Higher Education Consortium 
    • Employee Access, Success and Equity: Human Resources and diversity team 
    • Education, Scholarship and Service: ESS group 
    • Infrastructure and Leadership: Board of Trustees Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and University Cabinet 
    • Campus Climate: Advisory committee comprised of faculty and staff members 
  • Highlighting initiatives generated from the Equity Action Plan such as the RGA Leadership Academy, the Pathway to Purpose, and Bias Education group, detailed information about our current diversity, equity and inclusion efforts is available.

We must provide resources and support to our community at this time. The Student Life leadership from our Counseling Center, Center for Student Academic Success, and Intercultural Center will add their voices of support and solidarity with our Black students and Black employees in a joint message that will be sent shortly to all students and employees. This communication will provide a list of resources that we all can access to seek support and further education.  

I recognize that this is long-term work, there is no quick fix, and this work will require uncomfortable conversations and pushing boundaries. But the alternative – remaining at the status quo – is unacceptable. We must deepen our commitment to this work. We must embrace the difficult dialogues, confront the issues head-on, and demand equity and justice for Black, indigenous, and all people of color. That is the work ahead of us.