Dear Members of the Brown Community,

I write to you with news of the February meeting of the Corporation of Brown University. Members of the Corporation received updates regarding the progress of Building on Distinction, the work of the Task Force on Campus Safety, and plans for the University’s 250th. They engaged in discussion regarding assessing the strategic plan’s progress over time; financial planning and sustainability for the long-term; the budget for next year; and accepted a number of generous gifts supporting academic priorities. It is gratifying that many members of the Corporation and other alumni, parents and friends have made significant commitments that will enable near- and medium-term investments in priorities under the plan. 


Members of the Corporation considered and approved the report of the University Resources Committee (URC) and my recommendations regarding the budget, financial aid, tuition and fees for next year. 

Brown’s major source of revenue is tuition, and balancing increases needed to maintain and enhance our academic programs with affordability and access remains an ongoing challenge. In developing its proposed rates for FY15, the URC considered our current competitive position, recent growth rates in tuition and fees at Brown, and the impact of college costs on students and their families. After much discussion within the URC, the committee recommended a 3.8% increase in tuition and fees, bringing the proposed undergraduate charges for next year to $59,428. I endorsed that recommendation and the Corporation approved. 

Ensuring access to a Brown education remains one of our highest priorities. The approved undergraduate financial aid budget will increase by 5.5% over current year expenses (and 9.3% higher than the current year budget), significantly higher than tuition and fees. We anticipate spending approximately $104.1 million on undergraduate scholarships next year, more than double the amount allocated in 2006. This increase will ensure that we are able to continue to support students from low and middle income families through University scholarship funds, decreasing reliance on loans. Today, 44% of all undergraduates receive need-based scholarship aid, which includes University as well as federal and state need-based scholarship and grants. The average need-based scholarship for all undergraduates is $35,823. The budget also includes budgeting for 6,100 undergraduate students, consistent with the approximate 1% annual increase we anticipated in the strategic plan for the next 10 years. 

Given the continued slow economic recovery and the uncertainty regarding the federal budget, we have been cautious in our expectations of revenue from annual giving and federal grants and contracts. Although the proposed budget includes a 2% decrease in annual giving levels, we continue to expect a strong year in fundraising, with greater focus on gifts to endowment, capital projects and current-use gifts to support the strategic initiatives. In the last year, we have been fortunate to receive a number of restricted current-use gifts, and we expect to use $3 million of these gifts toward critical investments in the operating budget for engineering, brain sciences and other initiatives. We are projecting a 5% decline in sponsored support overall, with slightly more optimistic expectations for BioMed.

The University’s FY15 operating budget will total $941.5 million, 3.2% higher than FY14. Budgeted revenues are proposed at $937.7 million, 3.3% higher than FY14. This results in a projected deficit/use of reserves of $3.8 million, down from the $4.4 million use of reserves budgeted in the current year. As has been discussed in several forums on campus, the use of reserves over the long term is unsustainable, and we are committed to developing a multi-year financial strategy that is realistic, responsible and balances the budget. The FY15 budget limits the size of the deficit and allows Brown to move forward in critical areas in the coming year as we simultaneously explore options to increase revenue and manage expenditures.

The approved budget includes faculty and staff salary increase pools, a moderate increase to graduate stipends (3.7%) and a small increase to the overall size of our PhD programs, and additional allocations to enhance or maintain our strengths in key areas of scholarship and research and to bolster the quality of our physical, technological and administrative infrastructure. Among these are important investments in campus health and safety, including additional coordinators in Campus Life for men’s health and for accessibility services, and enhancements for Transportation Services and the Department of Public Safety to implement the recommendations of the Campus Safety Task Force.

For more information on the budget and a link to the full URC report, please see the news release online


During the business meeting the Corporation established, accepted and ratified several endowed professorships and a number of gifts, totaling more than $26 million. These include:

  • The Charles and Elfriede Collis-Frances Weeden Gibson Professorship in Diagnostic Imaging in the Warren Alpert Medical School, established effective immediately, with gifts from the late Frances Weeden Gibson ‘45, P’58 and Rhode Island Medical Imaging;
  • The Samuel I. Kennison, M.D., and Bertha S. Kennison Professorship in Clinical Neuroscience, established effective immediately, with gifts from the estate of the late Grace Kennison Alpert ’51;
  • From an anonymous donor, a gift of $4,000,000, $2,000,000 of which is in support of fellowships at the Brown University School of Public Health, $500,000 to support BrownConnect, $950,000 to support the Annual Fund, and $550,000 for a scholarship fund;
  • From Richard A. Friedman ‘79, P’08 and Susan Pilch Friedman ‘77, P’08, a gift of $2,492,500, of which $2,000,000 is to the President's Flexible Fund, $377,500 is designated to the Brown Annual Fund; $5,000 to help cover operating expenses at Hillel; and $110,000 is pending donor designation;
  • From Mr. and Mrs. Shelby M. C. Davis, a grant of $2,147,669 for continued support of the Davis United World College Scholars Program at Brown University;
  • From anonymous donors, a gift of $2,000,000 to the President’s Flexible Fund;
  • From anonymous donors, a gift of $2,000,000 to the President's Flexible Fund;
  • From Wesley R. and Lynn M. Edens P’16, a gift of $2,000,000 to support an endowed assistant professorship at the Brown University School of Public Health for a population health and health care scholar whose research interests include healthcare communications, services, and technology;
  • From Richard C. Barker ‘57 LHD ‘09 hon., P’03, P’05, new gifts and pledges totaling $1,662,319, including $512,319 to establish the Barker Family Chancellor's Scholarship Fund, $1M to establish the Barker Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Watson Institute for International Studies, $100,000 for the Brown Annual Fund and $50,000 for annual support of the Brown University Sports Foundation;
  • From the late Daniel S. Tolman III ‘49, a gift of $1,661,307, of which $1,400,000 is designated to fulfill pledges to support faculty, scholarships, academic programs, research programs, and other affiliated initiatives, and $261,307 to the University’s endowment for unrestricted bequests;
  • From the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a grant of $1,350,000 to support postdoctoral fellowships in the Cogut Center for the Humanities;
  • From James A. Lawrence P’16 and Mary G. Lawrence, M.D. P’16, a gift of $1,100,000 to support the Men's and Women’s Lacrosse Locker Rooms renovation project at the Paul Bailey Pizzitola Memorial Sports Center;
  • From The Stanton Foundation, a gift of $1,050,000, $1,000,000 of which is to support the creation of an endowed professorship in international security issues, with a particular focus on policy relevant nuclear security studies, and $50,000 is to be spent in support of junior faculty research in nuclear security;
  • From Robin Chemers Neustein ‘75, a gift of $1,000,000 to support one or more fellowships for Ph.D. graduate students working on projects with faculty affiliated with the Brown Institute for Brain Science;
  • From David N. Kowitz ‘85, a Charitable Lead Annuity Trust with a total gift of $1,000,000, pending donor designation;
  • From anonymous donors, a gift of $1,000,000 to increase the Brook Street Scholarship Fund and provide greater support for undergraduates at the University with high financial need;
  • From S. Lawrence Davis P'17 and Donna Emma P'17, a gift of $1,000,000; to support the rebuilding of the Brown sailing facility; the Sailing Team annual fund; and to establish the Lucy Emma Brown Annual Fund Memorial Scholarship.
  • From Ron Beller ’83 and Jennifer Moses ’83, a gift of $1,000,000 to provide incremental support for internships awarded to students on financial aid who have the highest financial need. Students supported by this gift will be known as Beller-Moses Interns. 

In other business, the Committee on Budget & Finance authorized the administration to proceed with architect selection for a new building for the School of Engineering and associated enabling projects. The Design Review Sub-Committee of the Facilities & Campus Planning Committee will undertake that process over the coming months. The Facilities & Campus Planning Committee discussed the capital plan, including ongoing projects to improve campus infrastructure and planning conducted with the City and other neighbors to enhance Thayer Street. The Committee also heard an update on the proposed redevelopment of the South Street Power Station, which continues to move forward. Members of the Corporation toured the recently completed Building for Environmental Research and Teaching and Andrews Commons. Members of the Campus Life Committee met with graduate students, and received a report on the BrownConnect Internship Initiative, which will connect alumni, parents and friends with students for internships and career mentoring. 

Finally, following on the Corporation's October 2013 endorsement of Building on Distinction: A New Plan for Brown, the Corporation authorized the Committee on Fundraising and the administration to proceed with planning a comprehensive campaign to support the goals and objectives of the plan. Members of the Corporation are enthusiastic about the progress already being made under the plan and are committed to supporting those efforts through their time and philanthropy.


The meetings held this weekend were focused and productive. Members look forward to continued progress under the strategic plan, and actively supporting faculty, students and staff in all that you do for Brown. 


Christina H. Paxson

Further information about the Corporation is available online.