Good afternoon, and thank you for being here today as we honor the service of Brown University Veterans.

Thanks to our special guests -- Congressman David Cicilline and [other special guests]. Thank you all for being here.

I want to thank our emcee, student veteran Aimee Chartier Fudge, and the key organizer of today’s ceremony, Kimberly Millette, our director of our Office of Military-Affiliated Students, -- for their hard work in bringing us together. And I want to congratulate Rachel Huynh, Amanda Guerriero, Gerilyn Maselli, Rachel Warner, and Raquel Ruiter who just took a significant step toward military service -- well done!

I also want to acknowledge Professor Emeritus James "Jimmy" Wrenn, a Marine who started teaching Chinese language courses at Brown in 1962 and later co-directed the East Asian Studies department after its formation in 1987.

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On November 11th of every year, we call on all members of the Brown community to gather near Soldiers Memorial Arch, the most prominent campus marker honoring the Brown men and women who have served in the Armed Forces, to observe Veterans Day. 

Our commitment, though, is ongoing. It is a commitment not just to honor our veterans on one day, but to understand their unique experiences and embrace them as members of the Brown community, all the time.

Our student veterans enrich this campus in so many ways – academically, culturally, and socially. Beyond what they add to our understanding of global security, their presence at Brown aligns with our mission – to advance knowledge and serve the greater good.

We owe an immense debt of gratitude to our veterans for the tremendous sacrifices they make and the uncompromising courage they display in defending the freedoms we enjoy.

Increasingly, Brown has become a home to student veterans earning college degrees — it’s essential to expand support and create new pathways, both to honor their service and to enhance the education of every student who benefits from the unique lived experiences and perspectives our veterans contribute.

I recently had breakfast with student veterans and ROTC students, many of whom came straight from early morning physical training. They are incredible additions to our community, not only for what they have already accomplished in their military careers, but for how they are approaching their time at Brown, who they aspire to be, and what they hope to accomplish, as students, professionals and citizens. It is clear to me that the positive experiences and advocacy of our veterans is critical to bringing more veterans to campus.

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Today, I am thrilled to announce plans for a new initiative that aims to more than double the number of U.S. military veterans enrolled as undergraduates over the next five years. In order to meet this ambitious goal, we plan to take the following actions:

  • We will make standardized test scores optional for all undergraduate applicants with U.S. military service, enabling veterans to more easily apply for admission.
  • We will strengthen our recruiting efforts to help us identify talented, high-achieving military veterans as prospective undergraduates to Brown. Earlier this fall, Brown became a proud college partner to Service to School’s VetLink Program, which provides free application counseling to veterans.
  • We will increase financial aid available to undergraduate student veterans, replacing all family contributions with scholarship funds and boosting Yellow Ribbon scholarship awards. This will eliminate all out-of-pocket costs toward undergraduate tuition and fees.
  • Beginning with applicants seeking admission as undergraduates for the 2020-21 academic year, we will consider all prospective student who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces on a need-blind basis. This will eliminate any consideration of an applicant’s ability to pay tuition from admission decisions.

We expect adopting a need-blind policy for veterans to result in more transfer applicants, adding to the student veterans who currently come to Brown each year through our Resumed Undergraduate Education program.

To implement a need-blind policy for undergraduate student veterans and provide increased scholarships, funds from an existing gift to Brown will be designated in support of this new veterans initiative, providing immediate current-use funding to meet our goals toward achieving the five-year enrollment target. I want to thank these generous donors, who wish to remain anonymous.

We will also begin an effort to raise an additional $25 million in endowment to enable the University to admit prospective undergraduate student veterans on a need-blind basis and offer full financial support. These funds will be raised as part of the overall $500 million goal for undergraduate financial aid in the BrownTogether campaign.

At this moment, I want to recognize the generosity of Joan and Pablo Sorensen who have made the lead gift in support of this initiative to raise an endowment. Joan has also agreed to help lead our fundraising initiative to expand financial support for undergraduate veterans. Please join me in thanking them for their leadership. I also want to recognize and thank Larry Eichler, president of the Brown University Veterans Alumni Council, for agreeing to help lead the fundraising initiative along with Joan

It is inspiring to imagine the ways this initiative will impact Brown for generations to come – attracting more and more men and women who have served our country to Brown, providing essential financial support to our student veterans and promoting greater understanding among all members of our community.

Conclusion

To close, let me say that we talk often at Brown about freedom—to learn, to express ideas, to pursue the truth, to practice our faiths as we choose, to live in peace. And it is for these core freedoms that our Veterans serve.

My message to Brown’s existing Veteran community and to our incoming Veterans is that support for you and genuine interest in understanding military service will always be found on College Hill. It remains an honor and privilege to have you here at Brown.

And so we will always convene here on Veterans Day. Because we honor the uncommon courage and immense sacrifices Veterans have made to defend this nation. Because we seek to understand their service.  And because we stand ready to have their backs when they return home.

Thank you.