Rhode Island College’s Horace Mann Hall, which houses the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development, has officially reopened. The building itself hasn’t been worked on since its initial construction in 1971. This alongside the building having outdated equipment warranted a renovation.
“Today marks the beginning of a new era in teacher education at our state’s first and oldest institution of public higher education,” RIC President, Dr. Jack Warner, said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday. “Rhode Island needs teachers who are trained in the most modern, cutting-edge classroom practices and we need a facility that meets those standards. The all-new Horace Mann Hall is that facility, the jewel of our nationally-recognized School of Education.”
Warner was joined by several state leaders at this ceremony such as Gov. Dan McKee, Deputy House Speaker Raymond Hull (D-Dist. 6), State Sen. Valarie Lawson (D-Dist. 14), who is an alumna of RIC, and David Caprio, who is the chair of the Council on Postsecondary Education.
“With these renovations, the new Horace Mann Hall will become the home to a 21st century education and will prepare our future educators for the classrooms of today and tomorrow,” McKee said. “I want to thank all those who made today possible, especially the voters of Rhode Island who overwhelmingly approved the bond funding to develop this project.”
Caprio shared a similar sentiment about Horace Mann Hall’s renovation.
“The renovation of Horace Mann Hall is a vital investment in our education infrastructure at a critical time for Rhode Island Schools,” Caprio said. “The students who will be educated here represent the next generation of teachers and the future of education in our state.”
The renovation was done by LLB Architects and H.V. Collins Construction. Funding for this project came from a $25 million general obligation bond passed by Rhode Island voters with 59.47% of the vote in 2018.
RIC’s next big renovation is set to be the Clarke Science building. This project was approved in 2021 by voters through a bond approved by voters with 58% of the vote, which earmarked $38 million for the renovation.
As for where in the process renovating Clarke Science is, Warner said, “The boxes are being packed even as we speak, and that construction will start this Summer.”
Other renovations on RIC’s radar include the Student Services Center, Fogarty Life Science and Whipple Hall.
In other news, McKee answered questions from The Anchor about the Hope Scholarship, which is a big priority for RIC this legislative session.
“We’re very supportive of it, and we’re just working our way through the General Assembly right now in terms of what that’s going to look like,” McKee said. “We’ve made a proposal for juniors and seniors and we’re looking at [the] General Assembly to come back with their proposal and I’m pretty optimistic that we’ll have something in place that will likely help the students here at Rhode Island College.”
McKee added that he’s waiting on “seeing what the General Assembly has an appetite for” before a supplemental budget including the Hope Scholarship is submitted.
Warner, who has spoken with McKee about this legislation, shares a similar optimism, saying, “The governor is a full supporter of the Hope Scholarship. Stay tuned. You’ll see that demonstrated very quickly. Not yet, though, so we don’t want to get ahead of that story, but yes, the governor is a strong supporter of the Hope Scholarship.”
In terms of a timeline on a supplemental budget, McKee said, “We expect a supplemental to go into the General Assembly within the next couple of weeks.”
Another piece of legislation relating to RIC that made airwaves was State Rep. William O’Brien’s (D-Dist. 54) legislation that would mandate CCRI and RIC to arm their campus police.
McKee said, “I’d have to take a look at that, I haven’t looked at it yet” when asked what his stance is on that legislation.
In regard to O’Brien’s legislation, Warner said, “We’re going to submit a letter to the committee and to the committee chair expressing some of the concerns that we have about the bill.”
Warner said cost is the main concern.