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RISD considers a Charlotte, N.C., campus

The Rhode Island School of Design is considering opening its first satellite branch in Charlotte, N.C., according to a Nov. 15 article in the Charlotte Observer. RISD officials have made trips to Charlotte, but discussions are still preliminary, wrote RISD spokeswoman Jaime Marland in an e-mail to The Herald.

According to the Charlotte Observer article, RISD President Roger Mandle has visited the city three times, and RISD officials have met with leaders in the Charlotte area, including Art Gallagher, president of the Johnson & Wales branch in Charlotte.

"It seems they were fairly serious," Gallagher told the Observer. According to the article, Mandle visited Charlotte once with the chairman of RISD's board of trustees, but Mandle said he hasn't discussed the possible Charlotte campus thoroughly with the rest of the board.

"This is one of those rare opportunities to shape a community, to shape the type of job growth we've experienced, to attract and retain some of the most creative minds in the country and the world," Michael Smith, president and CEO of Charlotte Center City Partners, told the Observer. Smith is leading the effort to get RISD to establish a Charlotte campus, the Observer article said.

Moira Quinn, senior vice president for communications and chief operating officer for Charlotte Center City Partners, declined to comment on the possible campus, saying, "It's an economic development issue."

RISD students interviewed by The Herald expressed a lack of enthusiasm for a possible Charlotte campus. James Lavine, a graphic design major, said he didn't see any reasons for RISD to establish another branch. "I don't really think it seems necessary," he said.

Emmie Thelander, a RISD sophomore, also seemed skeptical of a potential expansion. "I think there are enough problems with the Providence campus that need to be addressed before money goes elsewhere," she said.

"It says in its name 'Rhode Island.' It's the design school of Rhode Island," said MiSun Yoon, a sophomore interior architecture major. Yoon, who lives in Virginia and has traveled to North Carolina, said she did not associate the North Carolina area with art. "They're not as appreciative of the arts there as here ... Providence is part of what makes RISD what it is," she said.

Yoon added that she thinks RISD's proximity to art centers like Boston and New York, and its location in a smaller city, were defining characteristics of the school. "If we were to go to North Carolina and start a campus there, we might make a big change for the state, but I don't know if that would benefit RISD."


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