Dear Members of the Brown Community,
Over the course of several snowy days, the Corporation of Brown University has completed its February meetings. In committee meetings and strategic sessions, Corporation members engaged with a wide range of issues and topics, including progress towards the ambitious goals set forth in the Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion action plan; progress in the BrownTogether campaign on academic priorities such as endowed faculty chairs; the South Street Landing and School of Professional Studies developments in the Jewelry District; the new academic Wintersession; academic and financial planning to support our collective ambitions, and more.
The Corporation also had an opportunity to have a discussion with Matt Owens, Vice President for Federal Relations and Administration at the Association of American Universities, regarding the issues that universities are facing at the federal level. Members of the Corporation expressed strong support for the positions that Brown has taken on matters such as the recent executive order regarding immigration and our undocumented and DACA community members, and voiced their own commitment to ensure that our international students and scholars are safe, secure and free to study, teach and conduct research at Brown.
Cultivating Creative Expression – Performing Arts Center
Brown achieved a significant milestone towards a priority goal established in the University’s strategic plan, Building on Distinction. The Committee on Budget & Finance authorized the initiation of an architect selection process for a new performing arts center, which is the focus of a strong fundraising effort.
Brown identified the need for a modern, flexible, interdisciplinary center for the performing arts as early as 1974, outlined in a faculty committee report completed at the time. Reaffirmed in Building on Distinction, the envisioned center will serve as a hub for music, dance, theater and multimedia arts on campus. Plans include an acoustically excellent main performance hall, a slightly smaller performance and rehearsal hall, dance studio, and acting studio. Equipped with advanced acoustics as well as innovative seating, lighting configurations and staging possibilities, the center will be able to accommodate large ensembles — including full orchestras, choruses or opera companies — as well as mid-sized dance and theater performances and more intimate, immersive multimedia experiences. The anticipated home of the performing arts center is between Angell and Waterman streets on the west side of The Walk. More information about this exciting project can be found here.
FY18 Budget, Tuition and Fees
The February meeting of the Corporation includes consideration of the report and recommendations of the University Resources Committee (URC), chaired by Provost Richard Locke and composed of students, faculty and administrators. The URC engages in a deep and thoughtful review of University priorities, available resources, and recommends strategic allocations in support of academic excellence and access to a Brown education. I encourage all members of the Brown community to read the URC report, which I endorsed and recommended to the Corporation for approval.
The Corporation approved a $1.061-billion budget for fiscal year 2018 that invests in academic programs, support for undergraduate, graduate and medical students, key initiatives outlined in the University’s diversity and inclusion action plan, and other strategic priorities. It increases funding for undergraduate financial aid to $122.1 million, increases graduate student stipends by 2.5%, and funds additional summer stipends for graduate students in the humanities and social sciences.
In addition, the budget includes measures expected to strengthen the University’s long-term financial health, including a 10.3 percent reduction in the endowment payout rate from the prior fiscal year. As a result, for fiscal year 2018 and taking into account the impact of new gifts to endowment, the Brown endowment’s annual funding contribution to the operating budget is reduced by 9.4%. This strategic decision to reduce spending from the endowment’s investment returns comes in recognition of the volatility of markets in recent years and the endowment’s long-term mission to provide budgetary stability and funding for future generations of Brown students.
The budget includes $1.5 million toward implementing the Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion action plan in the next academic year. This includes funding for travel grants to bring prospective undergraduate students from low-income families to A Day on College Hill; staff positions in the First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center and the LGBTQ Center; a director of diversity and inclusion; investments in the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative; and support for faculty hiring.
Tuition remains Brown’s major source of revenue, and new net tuition revenue is essential to supporting our academic programs. Both the URC and the Corporation are highly attentive to access and affordability, reflected in the significant investments over the years in scholarship support. For example, over the last eight years, the undergraduate financial aid budget has increased by nearly 60 percent, and the portion of the undergraduate student body receiving aid has risen from 41 percent to 43 percent in the same time frame. For the coming year, the URC recommended a 4.4% increase in total student charges, to $67,439. That recommendation was accepted by me and approved by the Corporation.
Overall, the budget strikes a thoughtful, deliberate balance between the need to continually invest in academic excellence and student support while sustaining and strengthening the University’s long-term financial stability. I would like to thank Provost Locke, the members of the URC and the many Brown staff members who support the budget process for their hard and good work in maintaining this commitment.
Acceptance of Gifts and Other Actions
The Corporation formally accepts gifts and pledges in the amount of $1 million or more. At this weekend’s meeting the Corporation formally accepted 16 gifts and pledges made since October in the amount of $1 million or more. Totaling more than $62 million, these generous commitments provide critical support to a wide range of Brown’s academic priorities. The success of the BrownTogether campaign to date and in the future builds from gifts of many dollar amounts, and all are essential to our success and deeply appreciated.
The Corporation approved the establishment of a number of endowed positions in recognition of gifts having been received. These include the following:
- The Warren Alpert Medical Professorship with the generous support of The Warren Alpert Foundation;
- The Warren Alpert Professorship in the Alpert Medical School’s Brown Institute for Translational Science with the generous support of The Warren Alpert Foundation;
- The Jonathan M. Nelson Professorship with the generous support of Jonathan M. Nelson ’77, P’07, P’09;
- The Stanley M. Aronson Professorship within the Warren Alpert Medical School, with the generous support of anonymous donors.
The Corporation also voted to approve the recommendation of the Committee on Facilities and Campus Planning that the new expansion building for the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs be located on the site bound by Thayer, Benevolent, Brook, and Charlesfield Streets, adjacent to Brook Street and the building located at 63-65 Charlesfield Street, which will be renovated as part of the project. The Design Review Subcommittee reviewed progress by the architects designing the Watson expansion (Toshiko Mori Architect) as well as the renovation of Wilson Hall (Anmahian Winton Architects), which will make that important classroom building fully accessible. Construction on both projects will begin this summer.
The Corporation approved the appointment of the following faculty to named chairs:
- Joseph W. Hogan, Carole and Lawrence Sirovich Professor of Public Health;
- Joseph M. Braun, RGSS Assistant Professor of Public Health.
Students of the Alpert Medical School met with members of the Committee on Campus Life over breakfast Friday morning, and the Fellows met with members of the Medical Faculty Executive Committee to learn about issues of concern to Brown’s clinical faculty members. A planned discussion with undergraduate and graduate students on the topics of student wellness and inclusive classrooms was cancelled due to weather and will be held at the May meeting.
Finally, the Corporation elected Richard A. Friedman ’79 to serve as Secretary, effective July 1st. I join in congratulating Rich and look forward to working with him and his fellow officers as we continue to fulfill the promise of Brown for all members of the community.