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Donald Farish Memorial Fund
By Jean Cohoon / March 28, 2019 /   Loading Disqus...

“He cared deeply about creating educational opportunities for underserved urban communities and providing access to nontraditional students,” states Maia Farish of her late husband, Donald J. Farish, president of Roger Williams University at the time of his sudden death in July 2018.

Dr. Farish’s leadership at Roger Williams was recognized and praised by students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff, and board members throughout a “celebration of life” at the university’s Bristol campus. Noting “the profound imprint Dr. Farish has left on this university,” Rev. Nancy Hamlin Soukup, university chaplain and director of spiritual life, recognized “his love of knowledge, bold vision for higher education, unwavering commitment to core values, and fearless confidence in the future.”

Richard L. Bready, then chairman of the university’s board of trustees, told the Providence Journal, “Don Farish capped a distinguished career of service in higher education with his transformative presidency at Roger Williams University. His strong sense of ethics, vision, and steady leadership have improved the university in virtually every respect and heightened its national reputation.”

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Dr. Farish was the first in his family to attend college, earning a bachelor’s degree at the University of British Columbia. His educational pursuit continued at North Carolina State University where he earned a master’s degree, at Harvard University with a doctorate in biology, at the University of Missouri with a law degree.

In a career devoted to higher education, he taught at the University of Missouri, served as assistant and associate dean at the University of Rhode Island’s College of Arts and Sciences, rose to provost and vice president at Sonoma State University, and served as president of Rowan University. He became Roger Williams’ 10th president in 2011.

“Don approached everything he did with honesty, intelligence, grace, and humor. It was never about him. I am so proud of and humbled by his transformational leadership at both Rowan and Roger Williams,” Maia remarks.

Through this fund, Maia says she can “channel her husband’s commitment to Rhode Island’s urban communities and support preservation and arts initiatives in these same communities.”

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