Letter from the President

June 2006

Dear members of the Brown Community,

I write to you with news of the Brown Corporation May meeting.

Naming of the Life Sciences Building

The Corporation approved a recommendation that the Life Sciences Building be named the Sidney E. Frank Hall for Life Sciences. The Frank family is grateful for this honor given the imminent completion of that building and the opportunity to honor Mr. Frank’s memory in the dedication ceremony we are planning for October 6-7, 2006. At the same time, we are pressing ahead with the timely planning and development of the cognitive and linguistic sciences building, including the completion of fundraising for that building. The building name will be determined based on the result of that fundraising.

Establishment of Professorships

The Corporation approved the establishment of the following professorships, all effective immediately:

  • The Julie Nguyen Brown Professorship in Computational and Mathematical Sciences
  • The Frederick Lippitt Professorship in Public Policy
  • The Frederick Lippitt Professorship in American History
  • The Paul R. Dupee, Jr. Professorship of Social Science

Each of these professorships has been generously funded by the individuals for whom they are named. Professorships are one of the highest priorities of Boldly Brown: Campaign for Academic Enrichment, and we are most grateful to Julie Nguyen Brown, the estate of Frederick Lippitt, and Paul R. Dupee, Jr. for their continued support of faculty teaching and scholarship at Brown.

Appointment of Faculty to Named Professorships

The Corporation approved the appointment of the following members of the faculty to named professorships:

  • Susan Alcock, Joukowsky Family Professor in Archaeology and professor of classics
  • Eugene Charniak, University Professor of Computer Science and professor of computer science
  • William A. Curtin, Elisha Benjamin Andrews Professor and professor of engineering
  • Huajian Gao, Walter H. Annenberg Professor and professor of engineering
  • Sorin Istrail, Julie Nguyen Brown Professor in Computational and Mathematical Sciences and professor of computer science
  • J. Michael Kosterlitz, Harrison E. Farnsworth Professor of Physics and professor of physics
  • Charles Larmore, W. Duncan MacMillan Family Professor of the Humanities and professor of philosophy
  • Saul Olyan, Samuel Ungerleider, Jr. Professor of Judaic Studies, professor of Judaic studies, and professor of religious studies
  • Marion Orr, Frederick Lippitt Professor of Public Policy and professor of political science and urban studies
  • Michael A. Paradiso, Sidney A. Fox and Dorothea Doctors Fox Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Science and professor of neuroscience
  • John M. Sedivy, Hermon C. Bumpus Professor in Biology and professor of medical science
  • Michael Steinberg, Barnaby Conrad and Mary Critchfield Keeney Professor of History, professor of history, and professor of music
  • Rajiv Vohra, Ford Foundation Professor and professor of economics
  • Timothy R. T. Bewes, William A. Dyer, Jr. Assistant Professor of the Humanities and assistant professor of English
  • Ugur Cetintemel, Manning Assistant Professor and assistant professor of computer science
  • Marcus Spradlin, Manning Assistant Professor and assistant professor of physics
  • Anastasia Volovich, Richard and Edna Salomon Assistant Professor and assistant professor of physics
  • Mark Zervas, Manning Assistant Professor and assistant professor of biology

Divestment from Companies Doing Business in Sudan

In February, the Corporation adopted a policy that excludes from Brown University’s direct investments, and requires the University’s separate account investment managers to exclude from their direct investments, those companies whose business activities can be shown to be supporting and facilitating the Sudanese government in its continuing sponsorship of genocidal actions and human rights violations in Darfur.

On March 17 the Advisory and Executive Committee of the Corporation approved my recommendation that the University exclude from its direct investments the shares of six companies, and we announced that action that same day. At this most recent meeting, the Corporation acted on my further recommendation, based on advice from the Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investing (ACCRI), that the following eight companies be similarly excluded from the University’s direct investments: Lundin Petroleum, Nam Fatt, Oil & Natural Gas Corporation, PECD, Schlumberger, Alstom, Harbin Power Equipment Co., and Bharat Heavy Electricals.

As I stated previously, we anticipate that as circumstances and events in that region unfold, the list of companies excluded from direct investment will need to be monitored and may be subject to change. The administration, with input and advice from ACCRI, will monitor the situation and make recommendations as necessary to the Advisory & Executive Committee.

Acceptance of Gifts

The Corporation formally accepted a number of gifts to Brown, including:

  1. From a Brown parent, a gift of $5 million for the Creative Arts Building and the Brown-Trinity Consortium/M.F.A. Program.
  2. From Josh and Genine Fidler '77, P'04, a gift of $2,025,000, $1 million of which will be for an endowed fund for undergraduate advising, $500,000 for the Creative Arts Building, $500,000 for the Brown Annual Fund, and $25,000 for the Brown University Sports Foundation.
  3. From an alumna and her husband, a gift of $1 million in support of medical student financial aid.

Election of Trustees

The Corporation elected the following individuals to serve terms as trustees of Brown University:

H. Anthony Ittleson ’60, LHD ’98, P’89, P’90 Debra L. Lee ’76 Joan Wernig Sorensen ’72, P’06, P’06 Peter Stuart Voss ’68, P’98 Charles M. Rosenthal P’88, P’91

Brown Medical School Admission Policy and Student Body Size

In February 2004, the Brown Corporation approved a series of goals and objectives for the Division of Biology and Medicine. These included expansion of the size of the Brown Medical School student body and the development of a standard admission route while maintaining the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME). The Corporation acted on proposals to achieve both goals at this meeting.

The Corporation first approved the recommendation of the faculty that the Brown Medical School admission policy be amended to allow for standard admission of qualified candidates, effective July 1, 2006. This decision makes permanent a pilot program begun in 2004 to allow qualified students from any college or university to apply to Brown Medical School. Since 1985 Brown Medical School admitted students to the first year of the doctor of medicine program through one of four routes: the eight-year Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME), the Brown Avenue, the early-identification programs, and pre-medical post-baccalaureate programs from colleges and universities with which Brown has established agreements.

The pilot program of a standard admission route for the classes of 2009 and 2010 was highly successful by all measures. Accordingly, the faculty, with the support of the clinical and campus department chairs within the Division of Biology and Medicine, the Biomedical Faculty Council, the Medical Faculty Executive Committee, the Faculty Executive Committee, and the Academic Priorities Committee, voted to make the standard admission route permanent. The Corporation concurred.

In a related action, the Corporation also approved the recommendation of the administration that the target size of the student body of Brown Medical School be expanded from the current number of 354 to 432 by academic year 2011-2012. The exact number of students enrolled in Brown Medical Student each semester may vary from this target within a range of plus or minus five per cent.

This action will increase the size of the Brown Medical School student body by approximately 25 percent over the next six years. This will be accomplished by increasing the number of matriculants entering the medical school through the standard (premed) admission route (the number of students admitted via PLME, approximately fifty per year, will remain constant). The total number of first-year medical students will, over the next three years, increase from the present 72 to 108. The proposed increase in class size will occur at the same time that the Brown/Dartmouth Program, currently a source of 15 third-year students per year, is being phased out over the next four years. Thus, the proposed expansion will lead to only modest expansion of our present contingent of students in their clinical training years (third and fourth years), while the size of the first-year class will increase by nearly 50 percent.


The Corporation also adopted resolutions of appreciation for Provost Robert J. Zimmer, Vice President for Research Andries van Dam, and Dean of the College Paul Armstrong, each of whom is stepping down at the end of this year. They expressed gratitude to each of them for their dedicated service to Brown.

Strategic Discussion Section

During its strategic discussion session, the Corporation heard an engaging presentation from Professor of Orthopaedics Roy Aaron, M.D., director of the Center for Restorative and Regenerative Medicine, Providence VA Medical Center, and attending physician at Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital. Professor Aaron described the ongoing inspirational interdisciplinary work being done under the auspices of the Brown Program for Recovery from Trauma to restore arm and leg function to amputees, in particular veterans from the ongoing combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Professor Aaron’s program includes faculty collaborators from many hospital-based and campus academic departments, including orthopaedics; engineering; neuroscience; molecular pharmacology, physiology and biotechnology; computer science; and community health. Members of the Corporation were impressed by the important ground-breaking work taking place in the Program for Recovery from Trauma.

During the same session, the Corporation also spent a substantial amount of time discussing the progress made to date — and the opportunities and challenges facing the University — under the Plan for Academic Enrichment. Dick Spies, executive vice president for planning, reviewed our successes as well as the adjustments we have had to make over the past five years. We discussed with the Corporation the budgetary reallocation process the senior officers are engaged in with the University Resources Committee and how we continue to plan and assess where our resources are most needed. We also discussed the need to maintain our focus and our momentum and, in fact, increase the pace of our planning and investments to achieve our academic goals and objectives. We recognize that the competition for students, faculty, staff, and funding is unremittingly intense and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. These realities require us to be constant in our commitments as well as nimble enough to respond to changing needs and pressures. For example, the Facilities and Design Committee discussed the emerging design for the Nelson Fitness Center at its recent meetings. We determined that the original program and fundraising goal for this important facility were not adequate to meet the needs of our students and community for recreation and fitness. Accordingly, the committee concurred with the recommendation of the administration that we revise the program scope for the building to a size and a level of amenities more suitable for our campus and adjust the fundraising targets to a commensurate level. Planning is now underway in a manner consistent with this direction.

Fall Meeting

The Corporation has called upon us to engage in further planning to realize our aspirations, guided by the Plan for Academic Enrichment, and to return to the Corporation early in the next academic year with recommendations and proposals for significant and bold new investments in the academic priorities and needs of the University. We will consider early in the fall the process by which these recommendations should be developed.

More information about these and other actions of the Corporation may be found in the University press releases available at www.brown.edu/news.


Ruth J. Simmons