Dear Members of the Brown Community,
The February meeting of the Brown Corporation took place over the past several days. Trustees and Fellows engaged with faculty, students and staff around numerous topics of strategic importance to the University, including developments in academic programs, the University’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and strategies for increasing alumni engagement.
Building on Distinction: Educational Leadership
In anticipation of the upcoming visiting committee to review Brown’s accreditation, the Corporation devoted a significant amount of time to presentations and discussion regarding undergraduate education. Dean of the College Maud Mandel, Director of the Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning Mary Wright, and Executive Director of the Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service Mathew Johnson helped lead these discussions. They presented a range of data that make clear that Brown’s undergraduate program provides our students with an academically rigorous and intellectually engaging college experience.
Dean Mandel and her colleagues described new programs, such as the Learning Collaborative based in the Sheridan Center, that are focused on enhancing even more powerfully the acquisition of the basic competencies embedded in a Brown liberal arts education — namely writing, public speaking, critical reading, data analysis, problem solving and research, among others. In addition, new experiential learning programs overseen by the Swearer Center in collaboration with academic departments, including Brown in Washington and the Engaged Scholars programs, are targeted toward giving undergraduates evermore hands-on learning experiences. These both prepare students for lives of civic and democratic engagement as well as build applied skills that can translate to whatever path they take after Brown. The data and presentations prompted robust discussion of these topics. Members of the Corporation appreciated the time to focus on the areas of strength and opportunities for improvement in the undergraduate program that build on Brown’s values and distinctive educational philosophy.
FY19 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 M. Locke and composed of students, faculty and administrators. The URC engages in a deep and thoughtful review of University priorities and 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 $1.1-billion consolidated operating budget for the University’s 2019 fiscal year. The budget includes increased funding for financial aid, diversity and inclusion initiatives, student support, and teaching and research infrastructure, among other priorities.
The budget increases funding for undergraduate financial aid, one of the fastest-growing area of Brown’s budget for many years, by nearly 11 percent to $135.4 million. That growth reflects the introduction of the Brown Promise initiative, which will replace loans with scholarships in University financial aid packages beginning in the 2018-19 academic year. Over the last eight years, the undergraduate financial aid budget has increased by nearly 60 percent.
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 described above. For the coming year, the URC recommended a 4.1 percent increase in total student charges, to $70,266. That recommendation was accepted by me and approved by the Corporation.
The Corporation also approved a shift to market-based pricing for master’s programs in computer science, data science, engineering, physics, and innovation management and entrepreneurship, which was endorsed by the URC. An extensive benchmarking effort identified Brown’s tuition for those programs, which previously had been set at the same rate as undergraduate tuition, as well below the market. Tuition increases for each reflect employment markets in these fields and increased earning potential for graduates and will apply only to future students.
This year’s budget increases graduate student support by $3.2 million, with a 2.5 percent increase in graduate student stipends, plus additional funds for health and dental benefits. The budget also includes $1.6 million in funding for a variety of initiatives, activities and resources that support academic excellence on campus as well as initiatives outlined in the University’s Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion action plan. This includes funding to expand Brown’s participation in the QuestBridge program, which identifies high-achieving high school students from low-income backgrounds; for travel grants to bring prospective students from low-income families to Undergraduate Admission’s “A Day on College Hill” program; for faculty hiring and retention; for staff positions in the Title IX Office; and to support an English Learning Language specialist and academic tutoring through the Sheridan Center. It also includes funding for three fellows in the President’s Postdoctoral Fellows Program, which has made important contributions to diversifying Brown’s faculty.
The full URC report is available via the URC’s website: https://www.brown.edu/about/administration/provost/sites/provost/files/URC%20FY19%20Report.pdf
Acceptance of Gifts and Other Actions
At the meeting, the Corporation formally accepted gifts and pledges made since October in the amount of $1 million or more. Totaling more than $43 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 Watson Family University Professorship in Security Studies I with the generous support of the Thomas J. and Olive C. Watson Foundation;
--The Watson Family University Professorship in Security Studies II with the generous support of the Thomas J. and Olive C. Watson Foundation;
--The Judy C. Lewent and Mark L. Shapiro Professorship in Philosophy with the generous support of Judy C. Lewent and Mark L. Shapiro ’64;
--The Endowed Professorship in Brain Science II with the generous support of anonymous donors.
The Corporation approved the appointment of the following faculty to named chairs at this and other recent meetings:
--Mark Ainsworth, Francis Wayland Professor of Applied Mathematics;
--Yuri Bazilevs, E. Paul Sorensen Professor of Engineering;
--Richard M. Locke, Schreiber Family Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs;
--Kurt Pennell, 250th Anniversary Professor of Engineering;
--Alexander Jaworski, June G. Zimmerman Assistant Professor of Brain Science;
--Kathryn Mann, Manning Assistant Professor of Mathematics;
--Bobak Pakzad-Hurson, Jonathan M. Nelson Assistant Professor of Economics and Entrepreneurship;
--Sarah Thomas, William A. Dyer, Jr. Assistant Professor of the Humanities. The Corporation approved the naming of campus spaces, including:
--The “Davis Family Venture Lab” at the Jonathan Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship with the generous support of Charles M. Davis ’82, P’13, P’16 and Jan P. Davis ’83, P’13, P’16;
--The “Berylson Family Football Complex” at the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center and the “Berylson Family Training Center” at the Pizzitola Sports Center with the generous support of John G. Berylson ’75;
--The “Paul K. Sloan ’97 Football Team Room” in the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center with the generous support of Ronald S. and Patricia B. Sloan P’97;
--The “Bobby Farnham Jr. ’77, P’12 and Glorianne Demoulas P’12 Family Hall of Fame Room” in the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center with the generous support of Bobby Farnham Jr. ’77, P’12 and Glorianne Demoulas P’12;
--The “Stuart M. Barclay ’82 Scoreboard” at Brown Stadium with the generous support of an anonymous gift in honor of Mr. Barclay’s memory.
Students from the Warren Alpert Medical School met with members of the Committee on Campus Life over breakfast on Friday morning; the Fellows met with officers of the Faculty Executive Committee to learn about issues of concern to Brown’s faculty members; and other Corporation members had an opportunity to engage in informal discussions with students on Thursday evening. Finally, members of the Corporation toured South Street Landing and expressed gratitude to the many Brown community members who made that project such a success.