Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1997-1998 index

Distributed February 20, 1998
Contact: Mark Nickel

Gee forgoes Inaugural Weekend, plans series of academic, community events

Brown President E. Gordon Gee has announced that inaugural ceremonies planned for April 24-25, 1998, will instead be distributed across the year, with the inaugural address now scheduled for Commencement Weekend. A portion of the funds that would have been dedicated to organizing and staging a formal inauguration will be divided equally between the University's libraries and scholarship fund.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Brown President E. Gordon Gee announced today that he will forgo the pageantry and expense of a formal inauguration in favor of a year-long celebration of the major academic themes and intellectual strengths of Brown University. The Inaugural Weekend had been scheduled for April 24-25, 1998.

One immediate result of Gee's decision: A portion of the funds that would have been required to organize and stage a formal inauguration - at least $150,000 - will be divided equally between the University's libraries and its scholarship fund.

The inaugural address and formal installation, which had been scheduled as the culmination of weekend festivities in April, are now scheduled for Saturday, May 23, when more than 20,000 alumni, parents and degree candidates will be on campus for Commencement and Reunion Weekend. In the fall, Gee will travel to major U.S. cities, taking the inaugural celebration to regional gatherings of alumni, parents and friends.

"Historically, Brown University has made Commencement Weekend the most important and substantive expression of its academic mission," Gee said. "Brown's mission of research, instruction and service holds immense promise for communities beyond our campus, from Providence to the nation and the world. That promise is well worth examining and celebrating."

During the fall semester, Gee will convene the first President's Seminar, a gathering of experts from the Brown community and the nation, who will come together periodically during the year to consider and discuss a single theme. That first year-long seminar, Gee said, will consider the nature of community. Other lectures, concerts, exhibitions and performances that are part of the University's normal academic year - many dozens of events, nearly all of them open to the public without charge - will help demonstrate the breadth and depth of the University's academic and intellectual mission.

"I know that my colleagues on the faculty and in the senior administration have been working hard on inauguration plans," Gee said, "and I thank them for their efforts. But as those plans began to take a realistic and recognizable form, I became convinced that Brown needed to find a different way to mark this new beginning. I believe the number and variety of inaugural events during the year will allow the University to focus on issues and values that are at the heart of this excellent and unique intellectual community."