Taking the Helm

Roger Williams University’s new president takes a moment to reflect

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It’s summer, early 1990s, and you’re in a fishing boat on Mount Hope Bay. The waterfront campus of Roger Williams University (RWU) comes into view and the sight makes a lasting impression, one that eventually leads you to accept a job as the University’s president. That might sound like the opening to a nostalgic novel, but it’s how RWU’s President-Designate Ioannis Miaoulis remembers first seeing the school.

After an impressive career as a tenured professor and college administrator at Tufts University, Ioannis was working since 2003 as president and director of the Museum of Science in Boston and director of the National Center for Technological Literacy. The RWU president’s post became vacant after the unexpected death of President Donald Farish this past July. Subsequently, the school launched a national search for a replacement.

Several factors influenced Ioannis’s decision to apply for the position. He was aware of RWU’s reputation from his work as an adviser and board member at other universities. He also believed that the school was well-positioned to continue its impressive transformation and become a national model for higher education. “I was intrigued by the idea that this is a private college with a public purpose, committed to becoming ‘The University the World Needs Now,’” he explains. “With the experience, the management style, and the entrepreneurial instincts that I developed at Tufts University and at the Museum of Science, I believe I can help RWU’s faculty, staff and students meet the purpose of strengthening society through engaged teaching and learning.”

Ioannis takes office in August and plans to spend his first six months listening and learning with the goal of developing a shared vision and common mission for the school. He also plans to spread the word about the school on the Bay that impressed him years ago: “I want to let the world know about all the good work that is going on here at RWU. This University is not only producing good employees, it is producing good citizens, and they are making the world a better place.”