The Corporation of Brown University recently completed its fall meeting on campus. For those who are new to the community, the Corporation (the name given in the Charter of the University, written in 1764) is the University’s governing body. The Corporation comprises a Board of Fellows and a Board of Trustees and is responsible for matters of policy and long-term planning. Trustees and fellows represent a broad range of professions, experiences and perspectives, and are chosen through a variety of processes — including alumni and student elections — but always for their commitment to the University and its mission of education and research. More information about the trustees and fellows as a whole, biographies of members, and their roles and responsibilities can be found on the Corporation website:
In committees and meetings of the whole, the trustees and fellows engaged in discussion on a number of strategic issues of importance to Brown. These included the recently released results of the 2019 AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct, Brown faculty research on aging, progress on Building on Distinction, Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion (the DIAP), the University’s comprehensive BrownTogether fundraising campaign, and a number of other academic matters. The trustees and fellows also discussed and approved revisions and updates to two important policies: the “Gift Acceptance Policy” and the “Naming or Renaming University Buildings, Spaces, Programs and Positions Policy.” These policies — which are now available on the Corporation website — have been revised in the context of a campus and national discussion regarding ethical considerations in fundraising, acceptance of gifts and honoring of donors to the University. The trustees and fellows benefitted from these discussions, which were informed also by feedback and input I received on the policies from student and faculty leaders. By making both policies public for the first time, we are also fulfilling a commitment to greater transparency in this arena, and I encourage all members of the Brown community to review both revised policies. They can be found here:
Under the leadership of the Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, chaired by Trustee Jeffrey F. Hines ’83 MD’86, the trustees and fellows have engaged in a series of programs regarding diversity-related topics to enhance their knowledge and increase their effectiveness as a governance body. Members had the opportunity on Friday to participate in a panel on the intersections of race and wealth inequality. Tricia Rose AM'87 PhD'93, Chancellor’s Professor of Africana Studies, Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America and Associate Dean of the Faculty for Special Initiatives, and Rashid Zia ’01, Professor of Engineering and Dean of the College, were joined by Brown alumna and distinguished scholar Vicki Bogan '91 AM'00 PhD'04, Associate Professor of Economics at Cornell University, for a fascinating and informative discussion.
Another important topic was the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on Equity and Integrity in Admissions, which I formed last spring to consider two issues: first, whether Brown has adequate safeguards to protect the integrity of the admissions process, particularly around athletics recruitment; and second, whether Brown’s admission practices align with our institutional goals of building academic excellence, making Brown accessible to students from all economic backgrounds and ensuring long-term financial sustainability. The committee, co-chaired by Senior Fellow Maria Zuber ScM’83 PhD’86 and Provost Richard Locke, has made substantial progress on the first part of its charge and discussed that progress and emerging recommendations with the trustees and fellows on Friday afternoon. A report on the committee’s first set of work will be released to the community this semester.
A highlight of the weekend was the celebration of the opening of the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship’s wonderful new home at the corner of Thayer Street and Euclid Avenue. In the very heart of College Hill, the Nelson Center has quickly become a highly visible hub of student and faculty entrepreneurial activity on campus. Members were enthusiastic about the work already underway and the promise of this new space to foster and support Brown’s diverse entrepreneurial community for years to come. The trustees and fellows and the Brown community joined in thanking Jonathan M. Nelson ‘77 and many other donors for their generosity in making this critically important academic project such a success.
In other sessions, committees heard updates from the architects for the Lincoln Field Building renovation, which will create improved space for research and teaching in the Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences and the health and wellness center and residence hall project. The Budget and Finance Committee authorized construction to begin on the health and wellness center and residence hall, and ground will be broken later this semester on the approved site along Brook Street across from Pembroke Field.
Students engaged in informal discussion groups with Corporation members on Thursday, and undergraduate students met with members of the Committee on Campus Life on Friday morning. This was part of the continued effort to increase communication and engagement between trustees and fellows and the student body. Members of the faculty who have been appointed to named chairs raised during BrownTogether had dinner with members on Friday, and the Board of Fellows met with the officers of the Faculty Executive Committee. The trustees and fellows also gathered with family and friends of Trustee Kenneth H. McDaniel ’69, who passed away in June, in the Maddock Alumni Gardens to dedicate a plaque in his honor and memorialize his decades of selfless service to the Brown community, especially Brown students.
Also this weekend, new trustees and fellows were welcomed to the body. The new trustees are: Orlando Bravo ’92, Kate Burton ’79, A. Richard Caputo Jr. ’88, Joseph E. Edelman, Jill Furman ’90, Oliver Haarmann ’90, Mitchell R. Julis, Frayda B. Lindemann, Sara Leppo Savage ’90, Donna McGraw Weiss ’89 and Nancy G. Zimmerman ’85. Amanda Boston AM’16, PhD’18 will serve a two-year term as a New Alumni Trustee, following the annual election process in which current students and recent alumni participate directly. Sangeeta N. Bhatia ’90 and Jim Yong Kim ’82 joined the Board of Fellows. Biographical information for these individuals and other members can be found online:
ACCEPTANCE OF GIFTS, ESTABLISHMENT OF ENDOWED POSITIONS AND OTHER ACTIONS
The trustees and fellows formally accept gifts and pledges in the amount of $1 million or more. At this weekend’s meeting, they formally accepted gifts and pledges made since the May meeting. Totaling more than $57 million, these generous commitments provide critical support to Brown’s priorities, including the performing arts, endowed professorships, financial aid, graduate education, athletics and a range of academic programs. The success of BrownTogether to date and in the future builds from gifts of many dollar amounts, and all are essential to our success and deeply appreciated.
The trustees and fellows also approved the establishment of a number of endowed positions in recognition of gifts having been received. These include the following:
-- the Nancy Donohue and Diane Elam Assistant Professorship in International and Public Affairs and Economics, with the generous support of Nancy Donohue '87 and Diane M. Elam AM'84 PhD'88;
-- the John Rowe Workman Assistant Professorship of Classics;
-- the Orlando Bravo Assistant Professorship in Economics I and the Orlando Bravo Assistant Professorship in Economics II, with the generous support of Orlando Bravo '92;
-- the Carl Kawaja '86 and Wendy Holcombe Assistant Professorship for Data Science, with the generous support of Carl M. Kawaja '86 and Wendy Holcombe;
-- the IJC Assistant Professorship in Economics, with the generous support of anonymous donors;
-- the Michael Wu '92 Assistant Professorship in Economics, with the generous support of Michael W. Wu '92.
In addition, in recognition of gifts having been received, the trustees and fellows approved the naming of a number of University spaces. These include:
-- an administrative office located on the second floor of the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship as the Kenneth S. Orkin '84 Office, with the generous support of a gift from Kenneth S. Orkin '84;
-- a conference room located on the second floor of the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship as the Victoria Shonfeld Rotenstreich '91, P'20, P'22 Conference Room, with the generous support of a gift from Victoria Shonfeld Rotenstreich '91, P'20, P'22 and H. Jonathan Rotenstreich P'20, P'22;
-- the booth and niche adjacent to the lounge and Executive Director’s Suite on the fourth floor of the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship as the Steven B. Kaufman '87 and Sarah Cureton Kaufman '87 Booth and Niche, with the generous support of a gift from Steven B. Kaufman '87, P'21 and Sarah C. Kaufman '87, P'21;
-- the Gather Lounge on the fourth floor of the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship as the Christian J. Anthony Gather Lounge, with the generous support of a gift from Christian J. Anthony '96 and M. Hilton Locke. Finally, the trustees and fellows approved the appointment of the following faculty to named chairs:
-- Karen M. Fischer, Louis and Elizabeth Scherck Distinguished Professor of the Geological Sciences;
-- Abrar Qureshi, Warren Alpert Foundation Professor of Dermatology;
-- Bryce Steinberg, IJC Assistant Professor of Economics and International and Public Affairs;
-- Neil Thakral, Stephen Robert Assistant Professor of Economics and International and Public Affairs.
Throughout these meetings, trustees and fellows expressed their enthusiasm and appreciation for the work of Brown faculty, students and staff in making this community such a special place for research, teaching and education. Thank you for all that you do for Brown.
Christina H. Paxson