Provost Touba Ghadessi

Provost Touba Ghadessi

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

 Touba Ghadessi. Photo: Cat Laine.

April 17, 2023
Provost Touba Ghadessi
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
20 Washington Place
Providence, Rhode Island 02903
United States

Following an extensive international search, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is pleased to announce the appointment of Touba Ghadessi as provost, effective July 10, 2023.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Ghadessi join our community as RISD’s next provost. Throughout the search process, she quickly revealed herself as someone with an uncanny ability to synthesize complex ideas and as a deeply collaborative colleague who believes in the power of deploying thoughtful action to achieve equitable outcomes for students and faculty alike,” notes RISD President Crystal Williams. “Dr. Ghadessi is ideally positioned to be a powerful advocate for all art and design disciplines at RISD, as she understands the value of cultivating expansive and elastic thinking and making to shape and create the ideas of our world. Added to these qualities, Dr. Ghadessi is an extraordinary human being whose insight, wisdom, collaborative impulse and leadership style is precisely what RISD needs as we look optimistically to the future.”

Ghadessi is currently the provost and a professor of the history of art for Wheaton College. She holds a PhD in Art History from Northwestern University and previously served as co-chair of Wheaton’s Art and Art History Department and the college’s associate provost for academic administration and faculty affairs. During her term, she worked on internal operations and external engagements, supporting plural avenues of research and delineating strategic expansion of institutional reach. Of Iranian ancestry, Ghadessi was born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland, where she grew up in an international environment that emphasized the importance of diplomacy, cultural curiosity and dialogue.  

As a scholar of early modern art history, Ghadessi’s work focuses on the examination of difference, expressed through human monsters. Her recent research explores alternate bodies and their implications for ruling epistemologies. Ghadessi has been awarded publication grants and awards to study at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales; conduct archival research in Paris, Florence and Rome; and participate in the Centre national de la recherche scientifique’s sponsored seminars in Paris. Her work has been published in such books and journals as Harvard University’s I Tatti Studies and Oxford University’s Journal of the History of Collections

Among her leadership roles, Ghadessi has served as chair of the board of directors of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, on the board of the Providence Athenaeum and as a founding member of the New England Humanities Consortium, where she is currently on the executive committee for the Faculty of Color Working Group.

“It is my immense privilege to be invited into an institution I have admired for years. Throughout my conversations at and about RISD, I witnessed passion, expertise, and true dedication to student learning,” notes Ghadessi. “I observed how the imbrication of art, design, and the liberal arts determines the academic core of RISD, and how their conjugation speaks to complex interdisciplinary and global manifestations. Such a strong practice holds grace, and I am overjoyed to support it by honoring RISD’s mission and amplifying its educational vision for the world it will shape.”

As RISD’s chief academic officer, Ghadessi will set a vision for student learning, academic affairs and the academic program, championing and advancing the core values of the institution across all efforts. Among Ghadessi’s priorities will be creating systems and policies that robustly advance teaching and learning and faculty development at a time when conceptions of what constitutes knowledge and how it can be shared are in meaningful flux; advancing interdisciplinary work that is increasingly oriented toward the ongoing effects of colonial histories, ecological devastation and economic injustice; and supporting ongoing antiracist initiatives, the development of new research activity and new strategic partnerships. Ghadessi will also lead the college’s efforts in recruiting, developing, retaining and—crucially—diversifying the faculty along a variety of lines of difference. 

Ghadessi succeeds Anais Missakian (BFA 84 Textiles), who has been serving as interim provost since July 2022. Before assuming the role of provost, Missakian was the Pevaroff-Cohn Family Endowed Chair in Textiles and professor and graduate program director of Textiles. She has held a full-time faculty position in RISD’s Textiles department for more than 30 years, including as department head for more than 15 years.

RSVP for Provost Touba Ghadessi
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
April 17, 2023

Thank you for your RSVP.

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.