Distributed February 23, 2002
For Immediate Release

News Service Contact: Mark Nickel

Larger faculty, need-blind admission

Brown Corporation endorses Proposal for Academic Enrichment

The Corporation of Brown University has endorsed a multiyear Proposal for Academic Enrichment under which Brown will institute need-blind undergraduate admission, expand its faculty by as many as 100 additional faculty members, improve support for graduate students and make substantial new investments in libraries, information technology and academic space. Increases to the University’s annual budget will reach $36 million by fiscal year 2005. [See also a summary of the plan]

PROVIDENCE — At its winter meeting today (Saturday, Feb. 23, 2002), the Corporation of Brown University unanimously endorsed a far-reaching, multiyear Proposal for Academic Enrichment presented by President Ruth J. Simmons. The Proposal represents one of the University’s largest academic investments in its 238-year history and is focused on expanding and enriching Brown’s core academic programs.

The Corporation authorized permanent budget increases that will reach $36 million by fiscal year 2005, the third year of the Proposal. These expenditures will be phased in over three years, with total expenditures reaching $78.8 million. That will allow the University to:

  • add 20 new faculty positions per year, ultimately increasing the size of the faculty by as many as 100 additional faculty members during the next five to 10 years, a 20-percent increase;
  • implement a need-blind undergraduate admission process, beginning with the Class of 2007, which enters in the fall of 2003;
  • provide graduate students with fully paid health insurance and other increased support;
  • dramatically improve faculty salaries and benefits;
  • eliminate academic-year work requirements for first-year students who receive financial aid, replacing those earnings with additional University grants-in-aid;
  • address urgent issues in the University’s level of computing support; and
  • improve library facilities and acquisitions.

“The Corporation has responded enthusiastically to a proposition of historic dimensions,” said Brown Chancellor Stephen Robert. “We were asked to authorize dramatic new investments in an institution whose level of academic quality is already exceptional – and we were delighted to do so. Brown will have the resources it needs to enliven and enrich its core academic programs for a long time to come.”

The Proposal draws on extensive planning undertaken at Brown in recent years, including comprehensive external reviews of academic departments grouped in clusters. As the newly authorized investments begin to be made in the 2002-03 academic year, Simmons and Richard Spies, executive vice president for planning, will continue to lead a planning process for additional projects with a longer horizon.

“This Proposal is not an all-encompassing plan, nor does it attempt to answer every question about Brown’s future. It does, however, take very careful aim at providing the very best education for the brightest students from our nation and around the world,” said Brown President Ruth J. Simmons. “It will nourish some programs that need to be strengthened, it will support others that are on the threshold of preeminence, and it will ensure that Brown’s most highly regarded programs retain their leadership position.”

A funding plan for the Proposal, also approved by the Corporation today, will draw upon administrative savings as well as new sources of revenue. These will include an increase in the endowment draw, from the current 4.6 percent to 5.25 percent (based on a three-year average value of the endowment); savings from staff vacancies and vacancy reviews; increased revenue from auxiliaries (Brown Bookstore, University Food Services, use of physical plant during summer months); improved enrollment budgeting (the surpluses in recent years now will be part of the annual budget process); an increase in tuition and fees; and additional fund raising, both from the Brown Annual Fund and unrestricted gifts.

The faculty     [Top of file]

More than half the new investment will be devoted to increasing the faculty and enhancing faculty resources. Increasing the size of the Brown faculty – currently 556 full-time members – will allow the University to make improvements in a number of key areas, including smaller class sizes, a more extensive faculty leave program, better frequency of course offerings and additional seminar offerings for graduate and undergraduate students.

Funding approved by the Corporation will allow Brown to begin hiring 20 additional faculty per year, ultimately enlarging the faculty by as many as 100 additional members. The provost and the dean of the faculty will work with departments to determine where the new positions should be added.

The University will improve faculty salaries and benefits to ensure that the median salary for all Brown faculty will be at least at the median level for similarly situated faculty at comparable Ivy League universities. In addition, a fund for significant merit adjustments will allow the top 5 percent of faculty salaries at Brown to be at or above the 95th percentile for faculty at five leading national research universities and the top third of Brown salaries to be at or above the 75th percentile.

Finally, to ensure that the faculty are well-supported in their departments, the University will provide $3 million to operating budgets in order to address space and infrastructure needs in the academic departments as new faculty are hired. The Proposal also includes $2 million to improve staff compensation, including an increase in the University’s minimum hourly wage from $9 to $10.

Financial aid     [Top of file]

Since the early 1990s, Brown has indexed its financial aid budget to increases in tuition and fees so that scholarship funds will at least keep pace with student costs, and it has raised tens of millions of dollars for scholarships and financial aid endowment. But the University has not been able to guarantee support for a need-blind admissions policy.

Beginning in the 2002-03 academic year, Brown will increase its financial aid budget each year for four years. The additional funds will allow the College Admission Office to admit the Class of 2007 and all subsequent classes in a need-blind manner. (The admission cycle for the Class of 2006 is already nearing completion.)

“During the last decade, our selection process ensured that all U.S. applicants were considered for admission initially in a need-blind manner,” said Michael Goldberger, director of admission. “Once that selection was complete and 90 to 95 percent of the class was chosen, ability to pay did become a factor.

“In addition to providing funds to close that 5 to 10 percent gap, we recognized that Brown could not claim to have a need-blind admission process unless it could sustain the process even in difficult economic times, when student need is greater. With the Corporation’s actions today, Brown has what it needs to guarantee a continuing need-blind admission policy.”

Brown will also enhance its undergraduate financial aid program by eliminating academic-year work requirements for all first-year students who receive financial aid, replacing those earnings with additional University grants-in-aid.

“The academic transition from high school to university is difficult under the best of circumstances,” said Paul Armstrong, dean of the College. “First-year students tell us that the strain and distractions of a campus job diminish their ability to explore the academic opportunities and extra-curricular activities which brought them to Brown in the first place. This additional scholarship will allow those students to establish themselves and their undergraduate careers on a solid footing.”

Graduate School     [Top of file]

The University has set a near-term goal of recruiting and retaining the best graduate students in order to improve the overall competitive position of its Graduate School. The measures approved by the Corporation include provision of fully paid health care for all graduate students as well as improved summer support and increased stipends – all to be implemented starting in academic year 2002-03, the first year of the plan.

In the second and third years, Brown will establish additional teaching assistantships and make further improvements in summer support so that the University will be able to provide incoming graduate students with five years of support rather than four, as is the case now. The increased level of support will improve Brown’s ability to attract students who have the most options for graduate study, and the additional teaching assistantships will help reduce undergraduate class sizes.

Library and computing     [Top of file]

A strong library is an essential element in support of faculty and students, providing both a core of on-site collections as well as reliable and convenient access to digital materials and shared collections beyond campus. The Proposal provides a $1-million increase to the library’s base budget to stabilize its acquisitions budget and support acquisitions targeted at the needs of specific academic programs.

Beyond the $1-million increase in the library’s base budget, the University will make additional one-time investments in facilities and equipment, from desks and other furniture to computers, video equipment and other information technology. Funding has already been approved through a recent bond issue to build or acquire a badly needed library storage facility off campus.

The Corporation also approved a $1-million addition to the base budget of Computing and Information Services. These funds will be committed primarily to staff which will support departments, enhanced technology in classrooms, and better access to institutional information assets. Additional significant one-time capital investments will be devoted to upgrading the University’s basic technology infrastructure, including the campus network in classrooms and residence halls.

“Even before its approval by the Corporation, the Proposal for Academic Enrichment had energized the campus community and focused it squarely on some very attractive and achievable possibilities for Brown’s future,” said Chancellor Robert. “By its action today – particularly by its approval of increased endowment support and other revenue measures – the Corporation has endorsed this emphasis on Brown’s academic program and has inaugurated a period of academic growth and enrichment that will be unprecedented in the University’s already impressive history.”