Dear Members of the Brown Community,

I am pleased to write with news of the February meeting of the Corporation of Brown University. A highlight of the weekend was the fact that we recently passed the $1 billion mark in funds raised in the BrownTogether campaign, a result of generous philanthropy and great confidence in the work of Brown faculty, students and staff. While there is much work to do to achieve the goals of the campaign, this is a significant milestone in which all members of the Brown community can take great pride.

Over the course of several days, the Corporation discussed a wide range of academic and strategic priorities. Members of the Academic Affairs Committee had an opportunity to hear from Professors Anthony Bogues, Matthew Guterl, and Tricia Rose about the research and teaching on race and identity being done by Brown faculty and students. The Committee also discussed with the Provost and Deans the ongoing work to establish metrics to assess the University’s progress against the strategic plan in a range of areas, including faculty recruitment and retention, sponsored research activities, the strength of our doctoral and medical programs, and the Brown undergraduate experience. Other committees discussed alumni engagement and campaign progress; Jewelry District and I-195 land development opportunities; the University’s capital plan; and progress on Title IX and the recommendations of the Sexual Assault Task Force, among other topics.

Pathways To Diversity And Inclusion: An Action Plan For Brown University

The members of the Corporation spent significant time in committees and as a whole discussing the recently released Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion: An Action Plan for Brown University, which set forth the strategies Brown will employ to increase diversity and inclusion, consistent with the University’s mission of academic excellence and aimed towards significantly improving Brown’s strength in education and research. Discussions included the broad goals of the plan, the funding required to achieve success, metrics and assessment, and accountability, including Corporation oversight of institutional progress. In addition to discussions with students and faculty regarding the plan, the Campus Life Committee engaged in an in-depth conversation with leaders from the College and Campus Life, including the Brown Center for Students of Color, the LGBTQ Center, and International Student and Visitor Experience, regarding new initiatives and opportunities for improvement under the plan. Members of the Corporation expressed their strong commitment to ensuring the success of the plan, and gratitude to the students, faculty, staff and alumni who have contributed to its development. The Corporation formally and unanimously endorsed the plan in their business meeting Saturday morning.

Commitment To Financial Aid, FY17 Budget, Tuition And Fees

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

Under Provost Richard Locke’s leadership, we have transformed our budget process this year. We initiated an in-depth, internal budget review to allow for better analysis, more transparency and more engagement of the senior leadership. The internal budget process ran parallel and was complementary to the URC, enabling us to elevate and better define the role of the URC. The committee’s work now has a greater focus on key budget drivers. Overall, these changes resulted in a more robust financial planning process, more emphasis on strategic issues, and better alignment of our resources with our priorities.

You’ll recall that we communicated last fall about the work of a Deficit Reduction Working Group to reduce a structural operating deficit resulting in part from a greater than expected decline in federal research funding in recent years, as well as increased costs for financial aid. In carrying out its important charge, the URC has been attentive to both our current deficit and also to our longer-term goal of establishing financial sustainability and enhancing academic excellence. The FY17 budget not only cuts the deficit, but it also expands financial aid, supports our goals for diversity and inclusion, and supports other important academic priorities. The consolidated budget totals more than $1.0 billion, an increase of 5.2% over FY16, and is essentially balanced, with a small $300,000 shortfall, a dramatic turnaround from the budgets of the last several years.

The University’s commitment to ensuring access to a Brown education remains our highest priority. The undergraduate financial aid budget will increase by 7.1%, and we expect to spend about $120.5 million on undergraduate scholarships next year. Brown’s financial aid packages for students with family incomes of under $100,000 are very competitive with our peers: approximately 64% of our students have no loans in their financial aid packages and 35% have no parent contribution from income. For the current year, we enhanced aid packages for families with incomes of $100,000 to approximately $200,000 – the middle of the income range for families applying to Brown and our peers – where we have recently been lagging behind our peers in both the competitiveness of our aid packages and in our admissions’ yield. Those improvements resulted in increased matriculation rates among these students. In the coming year, we will continue to focus on the competitiveness of our aid packages.

I am also pleased that the FY17 budget provides for the expansion of several other aspects of our aid packages including increasing scholarships to cover the cost of health insurance for all aided students and adding a financial allowance for aided international students to go home each year.

The FY17 budget continues the University’s commitment to graduate education, including increases in graduate student support totaling $1.8 million. Graduate student stipends will increase by 3% to $24,400. The FY17 budget also includes funding for dental insurance for graduate students and an expected 5% increase in the cost of student health insurance, as well as $65,000 in additional travel funds for graduate students to present at academic conferences.

Tuition is Brown’s major source of revenue, and every new dollar of net tuition revenue enables us to sustain and enhance our academic programs, research activities and the student experience. A hallmark of the URC process is the great care the committee takes in determining its recommendations for tuition and fees. They carefully considered our current competitive position, recent growth rates in tuition and fees at Brown and our peers, and the impact of college costs on students and their families. After much discussion, the URC recommended a 4.1% increase in tuition and fees, bringing the proposed undergraduate charges for next year to $64,566. That recommendation was accepted by me and approved by the Corporation.

Overall the FY17 budget prioritizes the Building on Distinction strategic plan for academic excellence. The budget provides new resources to the provost to focus on recruitment and retention of faculty. The budget supports a number of key goals of the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, including resources to the Dean of the Faculty to hire additional faculty from under-represented groups, as well as new resources and services available to first-generation and low-income students at Brown and funding recent staff increases for Counseling and Psychological Services.

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

Acceptance Of Gifts And Other Business

During the business meeting the Corporation accepted a number of gifts and pledges. Taken together, these gifts indicate strong support for strategic priorities. The gifts include:

  • From the late Charles B. Kiesel ’36 and the late Alice P. Kiesel, a commitment of $8,710,216 to endow a professorship and graduate fellowships within the School of Engineering;
  • From the late Frank V. Carollo ’50, a commitment of $5,301,060 to support the Frank V. Carollo Medical Scholarship Fund at the Alpert Medical School;
  • From Robert J. Carney ’61 and Nancy D. Carney, a gift of $3,500,000 to endow the Robert J. and Nancy D. Carney Professorship in Economics;
  • From Genine M. Fidler ’77, P’04, P’12 and Josh E. Fidler ’77, P’04, P’12, a gift of $3,000,000 to endow the Genine and Josh Fidler Family Campus/Community Collaborative within the Swearer Center for Public Service;
  • From Ching-I Hsu SCM ’70, PhD’74, P’98 and Esther Hsu P’98, a gift of $2,000,000 to endow the Graduate Student Collaboration Space and a graduate fellowship within the School of Engineering;
  • From an anonymous donor a gift of $2,000,000 to support the President's Discretionary Fund;
  • From Shelby M. C. Davis and Gale L. Davis, friends of the University, a gift of $1,898,223 to support the Davis United World College Scholars Program;
  • From anonymous donors, a gift of $1,005,421 to endow the Marvin L. Wilenzik ’56 Head Coaching Chair for Brown Wrestling;
  • From Mark S. Blumenkranz ’72, MMS’76, MD’75, P’05, P’08 and Dr. Recia Kott Blumenkranz ’76, P’05, P’08, a gift of $1,000,000 to endow a fund to support Brown Biomedical Innovations Inc. in the Division of Biology and Medicine;
  • From an anonymous donor a gift of $1,000,000 to support the football locker room renovation project;
  • From anonymous donors a gift of $1,000,000 to endow the head coaching chair for Men’s Basketball;
  • From J. Russell Triedman ’91 and Melissa R. Triedman, a gift of $1,000,000 pending donor designation;
  • From La Fondation Sackler - The Sackler Foundation, at the suggestion of Kathe A. Sackler M.D. P’16, P’18, a gift to endow the Brown Sackler Arts Alliance, a new innovative multi-disciplinary program in the performing, visual, and literary arts featuring visiting artists, collaborative work with Brown students, and the Brown Sackler Arts Alliance Library including recordings of program presentations and collaborative work.

The Corporation also approved the establishment of the following endowed chairs:

  • The Institute at Brown for Environment and Society Professorship;
  • The Robert J. and Nancy D. Carney Professorship in Economics;
  • The Marvin L. Wilenzik ’56 Head Coaching Chair for Brown Wrestling;
  • The June G. Zimmerman Professorship in Brain Science, established with a gift from Nancy G. Zimmerman ’85, P’20 and Andrei Shleifer P’20.

On Thursday, members of the Corporation engaged in informal discussion groups with undergraduate students on the topics of Title IX, campus accessibility, and pre-orientation programs. The discussions were highly successful and informed conversation throughout the course of the meetings. Other students also had an opportunity this weekend to meet with members of the Committee on Campus Life. Finally, the Fellows met with members of the Medical Faculty Executive Committee, to learn about issues of concern to Brown’s clinical faculty members.

Conclusion

As previously communicated by Chancellor Tisch, the Corporation elected new officers effective July 1st: Samuel M. Mencoff ’78, Chancellor; Alison S. Ressler ’80, Vice Chancellor; and Theresia Gouw ’90, Treasurer. I join in congratulating the new officers and look forward to working with them in the years ahead which hold great promise for Brown. Thank you for all that you do to make that possible.

Sincerely,

Christina H. Paxson

Further information about the Corporation is available online.