Distributed June 6, 2003
For Immediate Release

News Service Contact: Mark Nickel

Commencement Weekend Meeting

Brown Corporation approves budget, adopts new governance plan

At its regular meeting May 24, 2003, the Corporation of Brown University approved a $512-million operating budget, authorized issuance of tax-exempt bonds, authorized several major campus planning initiatives, and adopted a proposal for restructuring the Corporation’s own governance procedures.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — On Saturday, May 24, 2003, at its regular Commencement Weekend meeting, the Corporation of Brown University:

  • approved a $512-million operating budget for the 2003-04 academic year;
  • authorized the issuance of tax-exempt bonds through the Rhode Island Health and Educational Building Corporation. The bond issue will support various construction and renovation projects, including the Life Sciences Building;
  • approved planning for a comprehensive fund-raising campaign;
  • authorized further planning studies for additional academic facilities along a possible walkway between the Pembroke Campus and Lincoln Field. That walkway was outlined by a consulting architect in the preliminary master plan for campus;
  • adopted changes to the University’s system of non-academic discipline recommended by a review committee and by the Office of Campus Life and Student Services;
  • authorized a planning study for expanding and renovating housing for graduate, medical and undergraduate students and improving undergraduate residence halls, and a second planning study for upgrading campus dining facilities, social spaces, fitness centers and other student life facilities; and
  • adopted a proposal that will restructure the Corporation’s governance procedures.

“The trustees and fellows of the Corporation worked through an agenda of far-reaching proposals that will sustain the University well into the next decade,” said Brown Chancellor Stephen Robert. “The Corporation remains unanimous and enthusiastic in its support of the Initiatives for Academic Enrichment. By adopting changes to its own governance, the Corporation has reiterated its intention to be an effective and willing partner in achieving the University’s ambitious goals and realizing its bright future.”

Other actions taken by the Corporation included:

  • election of new trustees: Alain J.P. Belda P’05, ’07; Cornelia Dean ’69; Galen V. Henderson, M.D. ’93; Bobby Jindal ’92; Samuel M. Mencoff ’78; Kenneth J. O’Keefe ’76; Eileen M. Rudden ’72; and Laurinda Hope Spear ’72;
  • establishment of the Craig M. Cogut ’75 Visiting Professorship in Latin American Studies;
  • election of board members for the governing bodies of the Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies, the John Carter Brown Library, and the George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation; and
  • appointment of Russell C. Carey as vice president and secretary of the University, effective July 1, 2003. Carey will oversee the implementation of the expanded governance and advisory bodies.

The budget

The $512-million budget approved by the Corporation represents an 8.7-percent increase over the current year, including:

  • a 15-percent increase in the undergraduate financial aid budget to support the University’s continued commitment to need-blind financial aid and to fund the full needs of returning students who receive financial aid;
  • a 9-percent increase in graduate student support, which includes the cost of a large increase for health insurance;
  • funding for a new mainframe computer and upgrades to the campus computing and network infrastructure;
  • initiation of construction for at least three new academic facilities: the new Life Sciences Building, a Jewelry District building to be retrofitted as a research center, and a building to be renovated as a storage annex for the University library;
  • increased funding for public safety.

Funding the 2003-04 budget will require significant effort from all parts of the University:

  • an average reduction of 3 percent in the operating budgets of the University’s administrative departments and no inflationary increase for non-salary budget lines;
  • a 4.4-percent increase in undergraduate tuition and fees, approved in February;
  • a 2-percent increase in revenue from the endowment;
  • use of $6 million in quasi-endowment funds, to be repaid into the endowment during the next capital campaign;
  • a 30-percent increase in current-use annual giving, to $22 million;
  • a 12-percent increase in support for sponsored research conducted by faculty.

Corporation governance

The Corporation of Brown University, established by the Charter of 1764, is one of the oldest higher education governing bodies in North America. While the Charter has remained essentially intact for 239 years, it has given the Corporation authority to organize itself for the work it needs to do and to adjust its organization as necessary.

As the University began work on its Initiatives for Academic Enrichment, each of the major constituent groups – the faculty, the administration and the Corporation – reviewed and streamlined its governance structure. During its review, the Corporation determined its members had a generally high level of satisfaction with their experiences but that they wanted a more intensive involvement in the long-term challenges facing the University and more opportunity for policy-level discussions.

The proposal adopted by the Corporation will:

  • reduce the number of standing committees from 21 to 11, only seven of which will meet during the three regularly scheduled Corporation weekend sessions;
  • allow more time for committee meetings with a focus on strategic discussions rather than operational details;
  • establish a system of advisory councils and visiting committees to involve a wider circle of leadership beyond the Corporation in the University’s affairs and to provide ongoing engagement for emeriti members of the Corporation;
  • create a President’s Leadership Council of alumni, parents and friends of the University which would meet annually on campus to advise on issues facing the University;
  • provide for a future review of the governance structure and for recommending any necessary adjustments or modifications.