The evolution of our campus

September 29, 1969 saw the first convocation on the Bristol campus of Roger Williams College. 1,300 students then went about their school year on the 60-acre, seven building campus. Later that school year, the first residence hall was built, which is now called Maple Hall. 50 years later, the university has grown and evolved to turn into what it is today.

The university had humble beginnings, with a small campus and student body. Today the campus is 151 acres with a population of around 5,000 students. There is also a campus in Providence and residence halls in Portsmouth and downtown Bristol. 

We hosted then first lady Laura Bush for the 2006 commencement. The law school, which opened in 1993, hosted Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2018.

The residence halls on campus have been varied throughout history as well. The first and second halls, originally called Residence Hall #1 and #2, are now named Maple and Cedar. Hall #3 was built next, which is now Willow. There was also Nike Hall, which was originally the barracks of a Nike missile site located just around where the parking garage is now. Eventually, the school expanded with Almeida Apartments, Baypoint Residence Hall, Bayside Courts, Stonewall Terrace and North Campus Residence Hall.

The architecture program expanded with a new building in 1987, the marine and natural science program with a new building in 1997 and soon the School of Engineering’s program with the new SECCM building in early 2020.

Commons was built in 2006, but 2009 was a particularly busy year here. North Campus Residence Hall, the Alumni and Admissions House and Global Heritage Hall were all built that year. This flurry of activity cemented the current look of RWU.

 Progress continues with new construction on campus. The RWU of today will look much different from the RWU of 2069. Who knows, the school might even be named something else by then.