The Corporation of Brown University recently completed its fall meetings, which were spread out over two weeks given the need to conduct meetings virtually. 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: https://www.brown.edu/about/administration/corporation

While the ongoing pandemic impacted many discussions in committees and meetings of the whole, the general focus of the trustees and fellows continues to be on the University’s progress and long-term trajectory under the Building on Distinction strategic plan, Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion action plan (the DIAP), and the University’s comprehensive BrownTogether fundraising campaign. Toward that end, the Committee on Academic Affairs received reports from the deans of the Faculty and Medicine and Biological Sciences, and schools of Engineering and Public Health regarding the composition of the faculty, progress toward goals in diversity, new hires and departures, and tenure-review outcomes. Campus Life had a report from Jason Carroll, president of the Undergraduate Council of Students; Facilities & Campus Planning engaged in a detailed review of the University’s capital plan; and Budget & Finance reviewed both the financial impact of COVID-19 and the University’s financial planning and path beyond the pandemic. Consistently guided by Brown’s mission, and the daily work of staff, faculty and students in furtherance of that mission, the trustees and fellows are deeply committed to navigating the challenges we currently face with a focus on the strength and resiliency with which we will emerge from this period of time.

Students engaged in informal discussion groups with Corporation members and spoke about their experiences with remote learning and academics and the virtual Brown experience outside the classroom. This was part of the continued effort to increase communication and engagement between trustees and fellows and the student body. The Board of Fellows met with the officers of the Faculty Executive Committee and learned about the challenges faculty are facing in light of the pandemic.

Also at these meetings, new trustees and fellows were welcomed to the body. The new trustees are Marcia J. Dunn ’82, Robert P. Goodman ’82, Alan G. Hassenfeld, Earl E. Hunt II ’03, Joelle Murchison ’95, Greg Penner and Maria T. Zuber ScM’83. Divya Mehta ’18 will serve a two-year term as a New Alumni Trustee. Jeffrey F. Hines ’83, MD’86 and Joan Wernig Sorensen ’72 joined the Board of Fellows. Biographical information for these individuals and other members can be found online: https://www.brown.edu/about/administration/corporation/membership

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 the Oct. 16 business session concluding the fall meeting, they formally accepted gifts and pledges made since the May meeting. Totaling more than $121 million, these generous commitments provide critical support for Brown’s priorities, including 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 Joseph and Susan Edelman Faculty Directorship for the Center for Human Rights with the generous support of Edelman Family Foundation
  • The Arkadij Eisler Goldman Sachs Assistant Professorship with the generous support of Edward K. Eisler P'23 and Maryam Eisler P'23
  • The Groos Family Assistant Professorship in Economics with the generous support of Ferdinand P. Groos '90, P'21 and Karen M. Groos '90, P'21
  • The LFZ Assistant Professorship in Applied Mathematics with the generous support of anonymous donors
  • The John and Mary Panton and Emergency Medicine Professorship in Translational Science with the generous support of Peter J. Panton '79 MD'82, Robert W. Panton '83 MMS'86 and Brown Emergency Medicine
  • An endowed Professorship of Practice in Human Rights with the generous support of anonymous donors
  • The Drs. Ruth and Howard Triedman Tamarkin Assistant Professorship of Mathematics with the generous support of J. Russell Triedman '91, P'21 and Melissa R. Triedman '91, P'21
  • The Donna Weiss ’89 and Jason Weiss Directorship for Predictive Biology with the generous support of Donna McGraw Weiss '89 and Jason Weiss.

Among other actions, the trustees and fellows approved revisions to the Copyright Policy following work and consultation with the faculty regarding that policy by the Office of the Vice President for Research, who will disseminate it to faculty in the coming weeks. The trustees and fellows are keenly aware of the disruption the pandemic has caused to the personal and professional lives of Brown faculty, students and staff, and in particular the impact on individuals and families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. We join with the entire Brown community in expressing our collective support for each other, and gratitude for the work and commitment that continues to move the University forward each and every day.

Sincerely,

Christina H. Paxson

President