Members of the Brown Community,

As you may know, Brown University currently has a structural operating deficit of approximately $10M per year which, absent any substantial change in our operations, will become unsustainable in three to four years. We have charged a Deficit Reduction Working Group, comprised of faculty, staff and students, to recommend organizational changes that will improve efficiency and reduce expenses across the institution. The Working Group will build on the efforts of the 2009 Organizational Review which produced recommendations for $14M in cost savings. Working Group members will identify opportunities for greater efficiency in areas not considered during the earlier review, as well as areas that were considered but for which new opportunities for cost-savings have emerged. We have asked the Working Group to present preliminary findings in early March, 2015. The charge for the Working Group is below.

Professor Richard Locke and Chief Information Officer Ravi Pendse have graciously agreed to co-chair this Working Group the membership of which is listed below. Rick and Ravi will be reaching out to the campus community in various forums to seek input on this important challenge, and will create a website where ideas can be submitted. Please take the time to share your thoughts with any member of the Working Group.

Sincerely,

Christina H. Paxson
President

Vicki Leigh Colvin
Provost

Deficit Reduction Working Group

Background

Brown University currently has a structural operating deficit of approximately $10M per year. Our financial predictions indicate that, absent changes in our operations, this deficit will continue into the future and will become unsustainable in approximately 3 years. Our aspirations for growth hinge on the development and implementation of a sustainable financial model. We have an opportunity to take steps now to reduce our operating budget without the sharp staff reductions and cut-backs of the type that were experienced during the recent financial crisis.

The President and Provost are charging a Deficit Reduction Working Group, comprised of faculty, students and staff, to identify cost savings. The Working Group will build on the efforts of the 2009 Organizational Review which produced recommendations for $14M in cost savings. They will identify opportunities for efficiencies in areas not considered during the earlier review, as well as areas that were considered but for which new cost-saving opportunities have emerged.

Charge to the Working Group

The Working Group will develop a set of recommendations aimed at producing at least $7M in cost savings. It will:

  1. Review the results of the 2009 Organizational Review Committee to determine the areas where further cost-saving may be achieved.
  2. Evaluate faculty, staff, and student ratios across academic departments and research centers to determine reasonable standards for staffing that could be applied to departments and centers to achieve cost savings.
  3. Assess whether academic departments and research centers can free up resources to support their academic missions by sharing services across departments, redistributing workloads, and creating new management structures.
  4. Identify units that provide functions that are highly related or overlapping, and recommend when appropriate strategies for reducing duplication.
  5. Develop recommendations for the entire campus including the following areas: purchasing, classroom and lab use, adoption of common IT platforms, shared equipment pools, employee benefits, construction costs, professional services, and networked and telecom devices.

Preliminary recommendations will be presented in early March, 2015. Final recommendations will be due in late April.

Working Group Membership

Co-chairs

  • Richard Locke, Watson Institute for International Studies; Political Science
  • Ravi Pendse, Computing and Information Services

Faculty

  • Anna Aizer, Economics and Public Policy
  • Wayne Bowen, Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology and Biotechnology
  • Janet Blume, Office of the Dean of the Faculty; Engineering
  • Clyde Briant, Engineering
  • Sharon Krause, Political Science
  • Jack Mustard, Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences
  • Dietrich Neumann, History of Art and Architecture; Urban Studies; Italian Studies
  • Robert Pelcovits, Physics
  • Ralph Rodriguez, American Studies
  • Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg, Italian Studies; Comparative Literature
  • Nina Tannenwald*, Political Science

Staff

  • Karen Davis, Human Resources
  • Lindsay Graham*, Division of Biology and Medicine
  • Susan Howitt*, Budget and Planning
  • Elizabeth Huidekoper*, Finance and Administration
  • Linda Laliberte*, School of Public Health
  • Joseph Meisel*, Office of the Provost
  • Sara Walsh, Office of the Provost

Students

  • Gregory Chatzinoff*, Undergraduate Student
  • Elise Rivas*, Undergraduate Student
  • Stephen Zins, Graduate Student

*Member of 2014-15 University Resources Committee