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Donald Farish named president of Roger Williams U. in Rhode Island

The Providence Journal
April 3, 2011
Donald J. Farish, a longtime educator, attorney and scientist who is currently president of New Jersey’s Rowan University, on Tuesday was named the 10th president of Roger Williams University. Farish was introduced to the Roger Williams community at a 1 p.m. ceremony in Global Heritage Hall.

Farish, 68, will take office on July 1. In his remarks, Farish warned of the challenges facing higher education in the U.S. at a time when funds for public institutions are threatened. Private colleges such as Roger Williams, he said, will likely experience increased demand for the education they offer.

“I think what we’re going to see are parents who are concerned about their children’s education asking the question: are these public institutions still in a position to be able to do what they once did? And many of them will decide the answer is no.

“The interest will shift increasingly to the private sector. And private institutions such as Roger Williams can expect more people coming in and taking a look because Roger Williams is preserving the sense of what higher education is all about.”

A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and a biologist by training, Farish succeeds interim president Ronald O. Champagne. Farish holds a doctoral degree in biology from Harvard and taught at the University of Rhode Island from 1979 to 1981 while also serving as an assistant and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Farish spoke for 14 minutes without notes or a prepared text, sprinkling his substantive observations with humor that drew laughter from the crowd of several hundred who turned out to meet their new leader. Shortly before being offered the job, he said, he and his wife, Maia, were at a Chinese restaurant and his fortune cookie read: “This could be an almost perfect day. Enjoy it.”
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