Monday, February 10, 2020

I write with news from the February meeting of the Brown Corporation. Over the past several days, Trustees and Fellows approved Brown’s tuition and fees for next year; met with faculty, students and staff around numerous topics of strategic importance to the University, including in-depth tours of several academic programs; and discussed a number of important capital projects.

ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE

Trustees and Fellows engaged with academic leaders and faculty from a range of disciplines regarding academic excellence at Brown. This included an extended period of time on Friday afternoon meeting with faculty, students and staff in the locations where they do their research, teaching and work. In four academic tracks, small groups of Trustees and Fellows visited the Carney Institute for Brain Science, the Warren Alpert Medical School, the School of Engineering and the Department of Economics. This opportunity allowed for a deeper understanding of these areas in particular and the challenges and opportunities faculty, students and staff experience in carrying out the mission of the University. The academic track programs were well received by the Trustees and Fellows, who expressed appreciation to the deans and faculty who planned and hosted them, and who look forward to visiting more such programs, departments and schools in future meetings.

In the Academic Affairs Committee, members received a report from the director of the Institute for Computational Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM) and the many activities and programs taking place in that institute in the decade since it was established with support from the National Science Foundation. The committee was also briefed on the cycle and efficacy of external reviews undertaken by academic departments and the contributions of those reviews to furthering academic excellence. In other committees, members discussed ongoing capital projects, including the Performing Arts Center, the Lacrosse and Soccer Center, the Wellness Center and Residence Hall, and progress toward the sustainability goals and campus decarbonization plan approved at this time last year. Discussions also took place regarding planning for further residence hall construction, and additional information about those goals will be forthcoming later this month.

Other presentations and discussions included risk management and the role of Corporation committees in overseeing risk management plans in their respective areas; the Phase II review of the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan being led by Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity Shontay Delalue; and environmental, social and governance investing in the endowment.

FY21 TUITION AND FEES

The February meeting of the Corporation traditionally 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. This year, we initiated a new base budgeting process in order to provide for more accurate, multi-year budgeting and planning for individual academic and administrative units and the University overall. The URC, accordingly, is operating on a full-year schedule and will present their recommended budget for FY21 to me later this semester for action at the May meeting of the Corporation. This will include the university financial aid budget, which we expect will outpace increases in tuition and fees and will maintain the University’s commitments to domestic need-blind admission policy and to meeting the demonstrated financial need of admitted students.

At this meeting, the Corporation acted on recommendations regarding two important budget items: FY21 tuition and fees, and faculty and staff compensation merit pools. 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. With regard to tuition and fees, this included a review of historical increases. The URC recommended a modest proposed increase in tuition and fees of 3.75% for undergraduate and non-variable graduate programs. This increase will provide additional revenue to the University to support strategic priorities while maintaining Brown’s commitment to accessibility to students from a diverse range of backgrounds. I recommended that increase, and it was approved by the Corporation. The Corporation also approved recommended increases to variable graduate, executive and medical programs, and summer and winter session, as well as a faculty and staff compensation merit pool of 2.5%.

ACCEPTANCE OF GIFTS AND OTHER ACTIONS

The Corporation formally accepted individual gifts and pledges made since October in the amount of $1 million or more. Totaling approximately $64 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 an endowed position in recognition of gifts having been received:

-- The Mulberry Essence Professorship of the Practice or Assistant Professorship with the generous support of an anonymous donor.

The Corporation approved the appointment of the following faculty to named chairs:

-- Elizabeth Brainerd, Robert P. Brown Professor of Biology;

-- Angela Caliendo, Warren Alpert Foundation Professor of Medicine;

-- Stefan Gravenstein, David S. Greer Professor of Geriatric Medicine;

-- Stephen Helfand, George D. Eggleston Professor of Biochemistry;

-- Megan Ranney, Warren Alpert Foundation Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine;

-- Gregorio Valdez, GLF Translational Associate Professor of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry.

The Corporation approved the naming of a campus space:

-- The tunnel located at the Center for Lacrosse and Soccer named the Marti Family Victory Tunnel with the generous support of Oliver Marti '93.

Graduate students met with members of the Committee on Campus Life over breakfast on Friday morning; the Fellows met with officers of the Medical 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. Over lunch on Friday, members of the Committees on Academic Affairs and Campus Life enjoyed getting to know members of the 2019 Ivy League Champion Women’s Soccer team and learning about their academic and athletic experiences.

Finally, upon recommendation from the Governance and Nominating Committee, and after a review and consultation process involving all members of the Trustees and Fellows, the Corporation voted to reappoint Secretary Richard Friedman ’79 to a second three-year term, through June 30, 2023. The officers of the Corporation may serve up to three three-year terms in their positions.

Sincerely,

Christina H. Paxson
President