Distributed February 25, 2003
For Immediate Release

News Service Contact: Mark Nickel

Corporation considers plans, strategic direction for University’s future

At its winter meeting, Feb. 21-22, 2003, the Brown Corporation reviewed plans for the University’s future. The plans and the strategic direction they represent grow out of the Initiatives for Academic Enrichment, approved by the Corporation last year.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — At its regular winter meeting Feb. 21-22, 2003, the Brown Corporation reviewed the University’s achievements during the first year of its Initiatives for Academic Enrichment and considered longer-term strategic directions beyond that multiyear plan.

“Our review of achievements during this first year was immensely satisfying, particularly the University’s ongoing implementation of need-blind admission and recruitment of new faculty,” said Brown Chancellor Stephen Robert. “We have also reviewed the plans that will guide the growth of the University for the next 15 years and beyond. The Corporation is confident that the University’s overall strategic direction and proposed course of action will lead Brown into a very bright and exciting future.”

When it approved the Initiatives last year, the Corporation endorsed $36 million in budget increases that would be phased in over three years. Despite the worsening economy and a smaller growth in revenue from the endowment, the Corporation maintained its commitment to that plan and is reviewing ways of developing the necessary resources.

The Corporation considered strategic plans covering a broad range of University activities and encouraged the administration to present a fully developed plan at the May meeting. That plan will support strategies for improving faculty support, the academic and non-academic experience of undergraduate students, graduate education, strategic planning for the Division of Biology and Medicine, multidisciplinary initiatives, diversity, and the physical campus.

As part of its review, the Corporation considered preliminary cost estimates that suggested an effort of this magnitude could add approximately 35 to 40 percent to the University’s annual expenditures over the next 10 to 15 years. Those strategic plans would also involve substantial additional investments in physical facilities to support the expansion. Discussions also took place concerning possible fund-raising initiatives and other sources of support.

Faculty size and support

The original Initiatives for Academic Enrichment, approved by the Corporation in February 2002, placed the faculty at the center of the University’s aspirations. In particular, the Initiatives identified the relatively small size of Brown’s faculty as a limiting factor in the University’s plans for academic enrichment and established a goal of adding as many as 100 new positions within five to eight years. That expansion, together with efforts to improve compensation and research support, is underway and will continue.

The Corporation considered further plans to expand and better support the faculty, including:

  • assuring continued growth of the faculty during the next 10 to 15 years. After it has added the 100 new faculty positions approved last year as part of the Initiatives, the University should continue to expand the faculty by 1 to 2 percent (6 to 13 positions) per year;
  • improving and expanding the research and teaching facilities to support the activities of a larger faculty;
  • enhanced research administration under the new vice president for research, Andries van Dam.

The undergraduate experience

Improvements to the undergraduate experience were among the most prominent changes during the first year of the Initiatives. In addition to implementing a policy of need-blind admission, the University replaced work-study requirements with additional grants for first-year students who receive financial aid. The dean of the College added 24 new seminar classes for first-year students this year and plans to offer 45 next year, with a goal of 60 in the 2004-05 academic year. One hundred and thirty-nine new courses have been added during the current academic year.

The Corporation discussed planning for a number of additional improvements to the undergraduate experience, including:

  • smaller average class sizes, better opportunities for increased student-faculty interaction;
  • major renovation and expansion of campus dining halls;
  • construction of additional fitness facilities and renovation of existing smaller exercise facilities.

Multidisciplinary initiatives

Brown’s ongoing efforts to expand the size of its faculty, coupled with the University’s well-established ability to foster multidisciplinary research and instruction, have created a unique opportunity. Provost Robert J. Zimmer reported that during the next three to five years, Brown will establish several multidisciplinary centers or institutes that will bring faculty expertise and resources together in new and different ways, possibly through collaboration with resources at other institutions.

In addition to establishing several new centers and institutes, the multidisciplinary initiatives would add library resources to support collecting in the new areas. This effort would also connect more closely the work of Brown’s existing centers with appropriate academic departments (for example, the work of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform and the Education Alliance with Brown’s Department of Education).

Division of Biology and Medicine

In the summer of 2002, the Board of Fellows of the Corporation commissioned an external review committee to study the structure of the University’s Division of Biology and Medicine, which includes the Brown Medical School. The group also studied the Division’s financial relationship to the University and its institutional relationships with affiliated hospitals.

The Board of Fellows encouraged the senior administration to continue its discussion and analysis and to come back with recommendations at a future meeting.

Graduate School

Dean of the Graduate School Karen Newman reported to the Corporation that applications have increased more than 20 percent. Plans to strengthen graduate student support are underway and new areas of graduate study in tandem with the University’s multidisciplinary initiatives are being explored. A new graduate student lounge opened in late January and plans are also being developed that may provide additional housing for graduate and medical students.


The Corporation reviewed results of a November 2002 retreat by its Committee on Minority Affairs. It also reviewed a plan to establish a full-time director of institutional diversity position within the president’s cabinet.

Campus master plan

In June 2002, the University engaged the architectural firm of Kliment & Halsband to develop a master plan for the 143-acre Providence campus that would support the Initiatives for Academic Enrichment, particularly its provisions for a greatly expanded faculty. Architect Frances Halsband has led an analysis of existing buildings, land use, open space, campus history and zoning provisions. Although the final report on the campus master plan will not be ready until later this spring, Halsband reported some of her findings to the Corporation:

  • the median building size on campus is 25,000 square feet – small for University functions and small compared with other research universities;
  • Brown will need approximately 500,000 square feet of additional academic space on campus during the next 10 to 15 years;
  • studies suggest that the University could add more than a million square feet in a way that would enhance the quality of the campus and preserve landscaped green space;
  • beyond the Life Sciences Building, which is scheduled to be built on campus, several areas south of College Hill could support certain research activities and collaborations between Brown and other institutions.

Actions taken

Other actions taken by the Corporation during its winter meeting include:

  • The appointment of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil and one of Latin America’s most distinguished social scientists, to a five-year term as professor-at-large, beginning July 1, 2003.
  • The election of Barry S. Sternlicht, of Greenwich, Conn, to a six-year term as trustee, beginning March 1.
  • Setting the endowment draw at 5.125 percent. The endowment draw, applied to a 12-quarter average value of the University’s endowment, determines the amount of endowment revenue budgeted for the next fiscal year. A 5.125-percent draw will provide an additional $1.2 million next year, a revenue increase of 2 percent.
  • Approval of a 4.4-percent increase in overall charges for undergraduates in the 2003-04 academic year, to $37,942. That figure includes a 4.8-percent increase in tuition (to $29,200) and smaller increases for room, board and student fees.