Professor emerita Dorothy Pieniadz to receive Big Sisters Legacy Award

RIC professor emerita Dorothy Pieniadz, who describes education and mentoring as her “lifelong passions,” will receive the Legacy Award at the Big Sisters of Rhode Island’s Abracadabra Ball on April 10.

Dorothy Pieniadz
The award is given to “a woman who is a pioneer in her field, whose volunteer or career work has impacted the lives of countless girls and women,” according to Big Sisters of Rhode Island.

In 1967, Pieniadz help found Big Sisters of Rhode Island, where she continues to be active. In 2008, she issued a fundraising challenge to support the organization’s Scholarship Fund, which helps members pursue higher education. Pieniadz made a significant donation to begin the fundraising, and the fund eventually accumulated $20,000 for the year.

From 1956-69 Pieniadz was the college’s first dean of students. During that time, she initiated many new student activities on and off campus. She later joined the faculty of the college’s Department of Philosophy and Foundations of Education and retired in 1987.

An avid traveler and student of culture, she initiated the college’s first study abroad program, and took students on numerous trips to Poland.

She was appointed professor emerita of foundations of education following her 31-year career at RIC. Then-college president Carol Guardo cited her for the impact she made on generations of RIC students and for her “pioneering work” as dean of students as well as her service on numerous committees and service organizations connecting the college to the surrounding community.

In 2002, Pieniadz established the Dorothy R. Pieniadz Endowment, awarded to students accepted into the Feinstein School of Education who demonstrate need and possess qualities necessary for success.

Pieniadz has been active in many community organizations, including Family Services, Camp Fire Girls, R.I. Council of Community Services, and Federal Hill House, where she is in her 45th year of service.

She helped to found the R.I. Polonia Scholarship Foundation in 1978, and continues to chair the foundation’s selection committee, which awards scholarships to Rhode Island students of Polish-American descent or who belong to a Rhode Island Polish-American organization.

The Big Sisters of Rhode Island Abracadabra Ball will be held on Saturday, April 10, at 6:30 p.m. in the Providence Biltmore Hotel. Visit for more information.