2015 Patriotic Speaker

Meet the Patriotic Speaker for the 230th Fourth of July Celebration|

Dr. Donald J. Farish

President, Roger Williams University

With more than 40 years in higher education including 11 as a full-time faculty member, esteemed educator, scientist and attorney Donald J. Farish became the 10th president of Roger Williams University in June 2011.

A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Dr. Farish immigrated to the U.S. in 1963 to pursue his graduate education after earning a bachelor’s in zoology from the University of British Columbia. He holds a master of science degree in entomology from North Carolina State University, a Ph.D. in biology from Harvard University and a juris doctor from the University of Missouri. A respected scientist in his field, Dr. Farish is the author of six biology textbooks and has authored numerous articles on entomology and animal behavior.

Dr. Farish joined Roger Williams following a 13-year post as president of Rowan University in New Jersey, where he transformed the respected regional institution into a world-class university known for its innovative academic programs. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated tremendous commitment to teaching and learning, always considering himself a member of the faculty who also provides administrative leadership.

Prior to Rowan, Dr. Farish held positions at Sonoma State University, the University of Rhode Island and the University of Missouri. His commitment to shared governance has earned him a reputation as a collaborative and inspirational leader. A sought-after voice in higher education, Dr. Farish served as one of 20 sitting presidents at a Presidential Roundtable organized in Washington, D.C., by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education to discuss the future of higher education in the U.S.

Since joining Roger Williams, Dr. Farish has guided the university in articulating an agreed-upon identity that defines the distinctive elements of an RWU education. As a result, he launched the Affordable Excellence initiative, which has positioned Roger Williams at the leading edge of the national dialogue regarding cost, debt and job-preparedness for today’s college graduates. One of the most visible elements of Affordable Excellence is an expanding focus on meaningful experiential learning projects rooted in local communities, many of which are facilitated through the Community Partnerships Center.

In recent years, Dr. Farish has established himself as a leading voice for the change he believes is needed to make higher education more relevant, more affordable and more accessible. In 2013, he was selected to lead the Executive Board of Rhode Island Campus Compact, dedicated to expanding campus-based community service initiatives at schools across the state. He serves on the governing boards for the New England Council and the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, among other organizations

Dr. Farish and his wife, Maia, live in Bristol, R.I. Ardent supporters of arts, cultural, educational and social service organizations across Rhode Island, they are patrons of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and are committed to showcasing the performing and visual arts on campus.

Read the 2015 Patriotic Speakers Speech – Now Available.