I was disheartened to see that your Christmas wish list for Bristol included a call for “responsible growth at Roger Williams University,” implying either that we have had “irresponsible” growth in the past, or that, absent vigilant oversight by Bristol officials, we will have irresponsible growth in the future.
I cannot imagine what we have done to engender such concern on your part.
You say that we have “never really stopped growing, and the long-range plan calls for more.” While it is true that we plan to continue to upgrade our facilities, we have no plan at present to increase the size of the undergraduate body, as you imply. The residence hall construction now under way is designed to allow more of our current students to live on campus, and fewer of them residing in Bristol.
RWU works hard to be a good neighbor, and we do a good deal more than most colleges and universities:
You blame us for high rents. How about crediting us for high property values? Homeowners in Bristol benefit from having RWU in their back yard because our presence helps make Bristol a desirable place to live.
We work closely with the Bristol Town Council, the Bristol Town Administrator, and the police and fire chiefs to deal promptly and effectively with issues that arise from the inevitable conflicts that occur between a college and a town. But having worked all my life in college towns across America, I can say that I have never worked in a place with a better town/gown relationship than I see in Bristol — and I pledge to all Bristolians that I will continue to be personally involved in making RWU the best neighbor that we can be.
Oh, and the Bristol tree you want all those gifts to be under? That’s probably a tree our students inventoried when they mapped the entire tree canopy of central Bristol.
Donald J. Farish
President, Roger Williams University