CCRI’s vice president of academic affairs named interim president

Council on Postsecondary Education praises Rosemary Costigan for her distinguished career as a nurse and academic

By: - May 4, 2023 5:00 am

Community College of Rhode Island Vice President of Academic Affairs Rosemary Costigan speaks during the meeting with the Rhode Island Council on Postsecondary Education Wednesday night.. She is sitting in the seat CCRI President Meghan Hughes occupied earlier. (Photo by Kevin G. Andrade/Rhode Island Current)

PROVIDENCE — Students, faculty, and staff at the Community College of Rhode Island now know who will be their interim president after Meghan Hughes steps down on August 31. 

Rosemary Costigan, the school’s vice president of academic affairs, was confirmed as interim president in a unanimous vote at the Council on Postsecondary Education’s meeting Wednesday night at the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center.

“My voice is cracking because this has been a long journey with this college,” Costigan said in an emotional statement before the council following her confirmation. “I’m more than honored to be the interim president as the search is done.”

Members of RIC presidential search committee named by Postsecondary Education Board

In a statement after the vote, members of the Council on Postsecondary Education praised Costigan’s appointment and Hughes’ tenure.

“Dr. Hughes’s legacy includes the creation of a strong leadership team, of which Dr. Costigan as vice president of academic affairs has played an integral role,” David Caprio, the council chair, said. 

Hughes expressed confidence in her successor’s abilities and experiences.

“Dr. Costigan embodies the college’s core values of educational excellence and a strong commitment to inclusivity and equity,” Hughes said in a statement. 

“Her distinguished career as a nurse, educator, and administrator gives her a profound understanding of and commitment to the students we serve, and I know she’ll continue to guide the college with the same values and vision that have been the cornerstone of her venerable tenure at CCRI.”

Costigan graduated from the nursing program at the Community College of Rhode Island — then called Rhode Island Junior College — in 1978, the same year she became a staff nurse  in the intensive care unit and operating room at the former Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket. She also served as staff development instructor and assistant director case management before leaving Memorial in 1999. 

My voice is cracking because this has been a long journey with this college.

– Rosemary Costigan, Community College of Rhode Islnad vice president of academic affairs on being named interim president

She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Rhode Island College in 1987, then went on to earn a masters in nursing and a doctorate of philosophy in nursing at the University of Rhode Island in 1996 and 2013 respectively.

Costigan became a professor of nursing at the Community College of Rhode Island in 1999 before rising to chair of the Department of Nursing in 2013. She became the school’s interim assistant dean of nursing education in 2014.

Hughes appointed Costigan interim vice president for academic affairs in 2016 before taking the position full time in 2017.

CCRI was established in 1964 as Rhode Island Junior College. It has campuses in Warwick, Newport, Providence, Lincoln, and the Westerly Education Center.

Increased enrollment at RIC and CCRI

In her president’s report, Hughes said the school saw a 2% increase in enrollment in the Spring 2023 semester over the 10,690 enrolled students during the Spring 2022 semester.

She said the move represented a positive trend and she hoped to count more than 12,000 students enrolled in the fall.

“Community College enrollment for the fall gets going right around now,” she said. “This conversation we’re having right now will become increasingly more important.”

In addition, transfers to Rhode Island College and University of Rhode Island through joint admissions agreements increased by 62%. 

Of those, 49% transferred to Rhode Island College and 70% to the University of Rhode Island.

Rhode Island College reported an increase of slightly more than 20% in freshman admission for a total of 3,848 new versus 3,200 in 2022.  

That’s good news for the school which has been facing a continuous reduction in enrollments since 2018, according to Rhode Island College’s latest enrollment report. Since fall 2018, undergraduate enrollments at the college dropped almost 30% over a five-year period, from 6,688 to 4,719. 

But Rhode Island College President Jack Warner said enrollment will decline in the fall due to the graduation of upperclassmen, 800 undergraduates and a further 300 graduate students.

“We expected this,” he said. “The fact that we’re filling up the freshman pipeline in the fall … We’re heartened by that.”

He added the school looks to have between 5,400 and 5,700 enrollments in the near future.

“It should be the last year of significant enrollment declines,” Warner said.


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Kevin G. Andrade
Kevin G. Andrade

Kevin G. Andrade previously covered education, housing and human services for Rhode Island Current.