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Dr. Costigan begins tenure as CCRI's Interim President

Dr. Costigan begins tenure as CCRI's Interim President

When she first stepped foot on campus of the then Rhode Island Junior College in 1976, Dr. Rosemary A. Costigan never envisioned she’d one day serve as president of her alma mater.

Nearly five decades later, Dr. Costigan begins her tenure Friday, September 1, as Interim President of the present-day Community College of Rhode Island, becoming the first alumnus to serve in that capacity.

Leading CCRI into a new era as New England’s premiere community college and key contributor to Rhode Island’s robust workforce, Dr. Costigan begins her tenure with a strong focus on building unity within the college community in support of the more than 40,000 Rhode Islanders it serves each year.

Having served in a variety of roles at CCRI – including professor, department chair, and most recently as Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Costigan is prepared to build on the college’s success under former President Meghan Hughes and take CCRI to the next level by inspiring faculty and staff to “come together as a force of unity in service to our students and go down the path of excellence.”

Dr. Costigan’s goal is to provide CCRI students with academic excellence and exceptional student service while supporting an environment “built upon respect, collegiality, collaboration, and innovation.”

With a “Say yes!” approach to leadership that encourages all faculty and staff to “get comfortable being uncomfortable” and play a role in spearheading positive change at CCRI, Dr. Costigan’s many initiatives include a stronger emphasis on college-wide communication and more employee engagement to promote the sharing of ideas. In addition, Dr. Costigan anticipates laying the groundwork for improved graduation rates through stackable credentials that allow students to progress in their field of study while pursuing a degree, thereby continuing to fulfil the state’s workforce needs.

“I believe we are at an inflection point. We must move forward, and we must be willing to implement strategies that support the needs of students,” Dr. Costigan said. “If we wait for everything to be perfect, we will never move forward – and for our students, being stuck is not an option because time is the enemy. Every additional semester a student is here affects their lives and their families’ lives because they are losing earning power potential with every extra credit.”

“When the Council looked to appoint an Interim President, Rosemary was the only choice,” said Chairman of the Council on Postsecondary Education David Caprio, Esq. “Rosemary is a respected colleague and lifelong educator who brings a wealth of experience and dedication to the college. She has all the qualities a community college president should possess – an unwavering commitment to academic excellence and student success; a steadfast focus on the needs of students, faculty and staff; the experience to navigate the complexities of higher education; and a leadership style founded on a commitment to shared governance, open communication, and a genuine desire to empower all stakeholders.

“As a graduate of CCRI, Rhode Island College, and the University of Rhode Island, there is no one more versed in public higher education in this state than Rosemary. As we stand on the cusp of a new era at CCRI, I can say with absolute confidence that the college is in very capable hands.”

A first-generation college student, Dr. Costigan graduated CCRI with an Associate Degree in Nursing and continued her education at Rhode Island College while enjoying a successful nursing career at the former Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket. After completing both her Master of Science Degree and Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing at the University of Rhode Island (URI), Dr. Costigan returned to CCRI and URI to teach nursing. She has served in multiple academic leadership positions at CCRI, including Chair of the Department of Nursing and Interim Assistant Dean of Nursing.

As VPAA, she led the college’s work to expand courses online and invest in remote, accessible support to meet the ever-expanding needs of the student body; developed collaborative, faculty-led professional development that championed high-impact, equitable teaching and learning practices; and helped enhance shared governance at the college with the launch of the Faculty Senate. With her background and experience rooted in healthcare, Dr. Costigan was central to CCRI’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and for pivoting the college’s instruction to remote teaching and learning within a matter of weeks to keep the college community safe.

Among her many accomplishments and honors, Dr. Costigan was inducted into the CCRI Society of Knights in 2016 and is a past recipient of the Rosemary Wood Nursing Leadership Award. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for Davies Career & Technical High School and has served as a peer-evaluator for both the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

Calling on her peers to be “relentless advocate[s]” for their students, Dr. Costigan will lean heavily on her own experience as a student 47 years ago to help ensure today’s students receive the high-quality, affordable education that has become synonymous with CCRI.

“The mentorship and support of my professors at CCRI changed my life and the life of my family,” Dr. Costigan said. “We all have the opportunity to be that person, to have that impact, and fight hard every day on behalf of our students.

“I ask that all faculty and staff share the responsibility of remaining informed and getting involved. Become comfortable with being uncomfortable and continue to fiercely advocate on behalf of our students.”

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