RWU’s 11th president embodies university’s core values

Building “a university the world needs now” is at the top of the to-do list for new president-designate of RWU.

 Ioannis (Yannis) Miaoulis, former president and director of the Boston Museum of Science, is ready to step up as RWU’s 11th president in August, 2019. After months of a confidential search process, the RWU community welcomed the news that a new president was chosen, and was buzzing with excitement and curiosity.

 In an interview with The Hawks’ Herald, Miaoulis said he has a few things he wants to accomplish before he officially takes on the role of president. He noted that although he did not come with any “big agenda,” he has plenty of ideas that he is ready to implement once he takes time to listen closely to the RWU community in order to create a “collective and shared” vision for the university.

“My first priority would be to spend as much time as possible to listen to faculty, students and staff, and also to the Board to see what their concerns, dreams and aspirations are for Roger Williams,” said Miaoulis. “I’m a strong believer that if you create a vision and want to build momentum, there has to be a sharp vision and one that is owned by everyone.” 

Miaoulis used his ability to see the bigger picture as a tool to implement success at the institutions he previously worked for. He said the United States needs a university model that will work for the next 100 years, with a focus on pinpointing RWU’s biggest strengths, which will allow the university to reach beyond its region and become a national and international platform for education reform. 

Miaoulis’ experience as president of the Museum of Science, in addition to serving as the dean of the College of Engineering at Tufts University, gives him the tools to build RWU’s reputation, including expanding funding sources. The first step, according to Miaoulis, is making the case that RWU is a great place to make an investment as a donor. While he noted that the university is “on its way” to doing this already, he has a few ideas that may help the process.

“People give to great ideas and great places,” said Miaoulis. “My idea about Roger Williams is to try to understand the needs and wants of potential donors, both individual donors and corporate and foundation donors, and position the university in ways that we can grow more national and international funding, by having a broader agenda.”  

Miaoulis’ words ring true through his accomplishments. He became the youngest-ever dean at Tufts at age 32, and played a large role in increasing the representation of females in both faculty and student populations. During his tenure as dean, the number of female undergraduates increased by 30 percent, and he boosted the proportion of female faculty members from 1 percent to 25 percent.

Aside from his experience in the STEM field, Miaoulis noted the importance of a well-rounded education that remains with students long after graduation.

 “If you want to be a successful person in any social life, you have to not only be smart in what you do, but be smart in how you interact with people, and understanding people’s needs,” said Miaoulis. “You also need to have a strong feeling on how you can contribute to society.”

 Professor Renee Soto, associate professor of creative writing and a member of the Presidential Search Committee, believes Miaoulis has the skills to act on RWU’s core values: engaged, transformative, innovative, experimental and inclusive.  

“He’s going to be really great at raising our profile, nationally and internationally, to work toward moving us into a stronger position in a really fast-changing academic environment,” she said. “This university is in place; all the pieces are here. We believe we are transformative, we believe we are inclusive, we believe we are engaged, we believe in innovation. It’s all in place. He’s going to bring the pieces together.”

In addition to his hands-on goals for the university, Miaoulis wants to become a member of the RWU family, and plans to make integrating RWU into his social life a priority. 

“I want to make new friends and find new, fun places to go and visit and enjoy things inside and outside the campus,” said Miaoulis. “I want to make Roger Williams home.”