The Corporation of Brown University recently completed its fall meetings, the first to be held on campus and in-person since February 2020. This set of meetings included transformative discussions about initiatives that will move Brown forward in areas including affordability and access, as well as engagement on topics related to residential and campus life.
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:
EXPANSION OF UNDERGRADUATE FINANCIAL AID AND COLLEGE ACCESS The trustees and fellows spent substantial time in these meetings discussing financial aid policy and access to the undergraduate experience. Members of the Corporation supported a plan to make significant investments to expand financial aid and improve college access.
Brown has a long-standing commitment to matriculate talented students from all income backgrounds. The University is also committed to promoting educational achievement among children from our surrounding communities. The remarkable growth in Brown’s endowment and the success of the BrownTogether campaign provide an opportunity to build on these two commitments, ensuring that the University continues to attract the best and brightest students from all over the world, and expanding college-going in Rhode Island.
Brown will make new significant investments in three areas. Brown will (1) significantly increase scholarships for moderate-income students, and also reduce the summer earnings expectation for high-need students; (2) move toward need-blind admissions for international students; and (3) develop a program that prepares talented students from public schools in Providence for college.
With the new investments in financial aid, Brown will fully cover tuition for families earning $125,000 or less with typical assets. In addition, students of families making less than $60,000 a year with typical assets will receive scholarships that cover all expenses— tuition, room, board and books — and additional scholarship to help support other expenses. Making major investments in financial aid to lower the cost of a Brown education for moderate-income families will further reduce obstacles for exceptionally talented students to apply to the University.
When fully implemented, the further investments will add almost $25 million annually to the current undergraduate financial aid budget, which stood at $153.7 million in the 2020-21 academic year. Between 2013-14 and 2020-21, Brown’s overall spending for undergraduate financial aid rose from $95.2 million to $153.7 million, an average annual increase of 8.8%.
The new initiatives build on two decades of significant efforts to make a Brown education more accessible. In 2003, Brown became a need-blind institution for new domestic undergraduate students, which eliminated any consideration of an applicant’s ability to pay tuition from the admission process for these students. In the 2018-19 academic year, the University replaced loans with grants in financial aid packages for all students, including transfer and international students, through the Brown Promise initiative. Last year, Brown became need-blind for students who have served in the military, increased their scholarships, and with the support of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs began covering all tuition and fees for veterans, who previously were admitted on a need-aware basis as transfer students.
Other investments in supporting living and learning at Brown include providing health insurance scholarships as part of all financial aid packages for uninsured students; direct support that pays for all required books and course materials at the Brown Bookstore; and a travel pilot program through which the University directly purchases the airfare for aided international students.
With these new investments in attracting top talent and supporting them through their years at Brown, we have an opportunity to further demonstrate Brown’s commitment to building a community that serves the best students from around the world.
Here are highlights of the three new initiatives:
1. Increasing Financial Aid Scholarships for Moderate-Income Students and Decreasing Summer Earnings Expectations:
Starting with all students enrolled for the next academic year (2022-23), Brown will change the calculation of how much a family has to contribute to pay for their child’s education. The University will eliminate the consideration of a family’s home equity as an asset when calculating a student’s available financial resources, typically translating to thousands of additional dollars in a student’s scholarship aid. The resulting increased scholarships will cover full tuition for families earning $125,000 or less a year with typical assets.
Eliminating home equity will increase the diversity of the applicant pool. Like all Ivy League institutions, Brown offers need-based financial aid — no merit scholarships — and the University currently includes a substantial portion of home equity as an asset when making financial aid calculations.
Also, starting in Summer 2022, Brown will reduce the summer earnings expectations for the highest-need students — those who have no expected parent contribution — by $1,000, to $1,700 for first-year students and $1,900 for other students. This represents a significant improvement in financial aid support for our students from the lowest-income families. With this change, Brown scholarships will cover all expenses — tuition, room, board and books — for students of families who make less than $60,000 a year with typical assets, in addition to supporting personal expenses.
2. Moving Toward Need-Blind Admission for International Students:
Brown will aggressively grow its financial aid budget for international undergraduate students, with the goal of becoming fully need-blind for international students for the graduating Class of 2029 (who will begin at Brown in Fall 2025). Becoming fully need-blind for international students in the coming years will significantly expand the University’s ability to attract and educate the most promising international students from all socioeconomic groups.
While Brown has been need-blind for domestic students for almost 20 years, the University currently has a “need-aware” policy that considers a student’s financial need in admissions decisions for international undergraduates. This policy impedes our ability to serve the most promising international students and limits what our students learn from their international peers. Becoming fully need-blind for international students over the next four years will have innumerable benefits for Brown’s learning and living community and for the world.
Roughly half of the cost of this initiative will be financed through the greater expected payout from strong performance of the University’s endowment, and half will come from a concerted fundraising effort. Brown plans to raise about $120 million in new endowment to enable the phase-in of need-blind international admissions over a four-year period.
Momentum in Brown fundraising is strong. Thanks to giving by generous donors, The Brown Promise, which removed loans from financial aid packages, and the need-blind veterans initiative are close to being fully funded.
My office and the Office of Financial Aid will share more information with students about the new investments in financial aid over the course of this academic year.
3. Launching a College-Preparation Program for Providence Public Schools:
This academic year we will develop an intensive college-preparation program for cohorts of children who attend the public schools in Providence, whose levels of college attainment are below state goals. The State of Rhode Island has set an ambitious goal to ensure that 70% of Rhode Islanders hold a college degree or certificate by 2025. According to data from Rhode Island Kids Count, Providence is home to approximately 18% of the state’s children, yet only 74% graduate from high school and, of these, only 54% enroll in college the year after graduating from high school.
The new initiative will focus on preparing cohorts of Providence high school students to enter selective four-year degree programs after high school graduation. This initiative will complement the Rhode Island Promise scholarship, which provides every Rhode Island student coming right out of high school with two years of college tuition-free at the Community College of Rhode Island.
Brown will work with community partners to develop, fund and lead the college-preparation program for Providence, and the program could later be extended to other parts of Rhode Island’s urban core. The initiative will become part of an “ecosystem of efforts” with other community programs, recognizing that early interventions prior to high school are essential for creating a successful college pipeline.
There is much work already happening at Brown to address local educational disparities, including the Swearer Center’s deep partnership with ONE Neighborhood Builders to provide high-quality after-school programs at D’Abate Elementary School; the Fund for the Education of the Children of Providence, which supports teaching and learning at Providence public schools; and the MAT program, which provides loan forgiveness through its Urban Education Fellowship for fellows who teach for three years in Rhode Island’s urban core. In addition, the Brown University School of Public Health, Warren Alpert Medical School and Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute support projects that aim to reduce child health disparities, recognizing that children need to be healthy in order to learn.
ACCEPTANCE OF GIFTS AND ESTABLISHMENT OF ENDOWED POSITIONS
The trustees and fellows formally accept gifts and pledges in the amount of $1 million or more. At this meeting they formally accepted gifts and pledges made since the May meeting. Totaling approximately $104 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 J&EI Assistant Professorship in Climate Health with the generous support of anonymous donors;
-- the SRS Assistant Professorship of International and Public Affairs with the generous support of anonymous donors;
-- the Broadbent Family Women's Tennis Coach with the generous support of William S. Broadbent P'04 and Camille W. Broadbent P'04 in honor of Avery Wolcott Broadbent AB 2004;
-- the Timothy C. Forbes '76 LHD'96 hon. P'08 and Anne S. Harrison '76 P'08 University Professorship in Modern Culture and Media with the generous support of Timothy C. Forbes '76 LHD'96 hon. P'08 and Anne S. Harrison '76 P'08; and
-- the Lawrence A. Rand '64 and Tiina Smith Professorship in Entrepreneurship at the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship with the generous support of Lawrence A. Rand '64.
The Corporation also approved the naming of a center:
The Cancer Center at Brown is named the Legorreta Cancer Center at Brown, with the generous support of Pablo G. Legorreta P’21 and Almudena Legorreta P’21.
The Corporation approved the appointment of the following faculty to named chairs:
-- Sandra Barnes, C.V. Starr Professor of Sociology;
-- Gaurav Choudhary, Ruth and Paul Levinger Professor of Cardiology;
-- John Friedman, PDBF Distinguished Professor of Economics;
-- Myungjin Kim, Carl Kawaja and Wendy Holcombe Assistant Professor of Data Science;
-- Jennifer Nazareno, Barrett Hazeltine Assistant Professor of the Practice of Entrepreneurship;
-- Vikas Srivastava, Howard M. Reisman Assistant Professor of Engineering;
-- Katharina Galor, Hirschfeld Senior Lecturer in Judaic Studies;
-- Brad Gibbs, Comfort and Urry Family Lecturer in Economics;
-- Alex Poterack, Steven Rattner Lecturer in Economics.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND OTHER ACTIONS
Students engaged in informal discussion groups with Corporation members on Thursday evening organized around themes including diversity, equity and inclusion; finance and resource decisions and values; student voice and the role of the Corporation; and the long-term effects of the pandemic on education, community and well-being. Over breakfast on Friday morning, more students spoke with members of the Corporation about experiences they value now that Brown is back in person and what they are looking forward to in the year ahead. The Board of Fellows met with the officers of the Faculty Executive Committee and discussed a range of issues of importance to faculty.
The trustees and fellows joined members of the Brown community in dedicating the Sternlicht Commons and Brown University Health & Wellness Center on Brook Street and expressed deep gratitude for the donors whose generosity made that wonderful new residence hall and health and wellness center possible for Brown students.
Also at these meetings, new trustees and fellows were welcomed to the body. The new trustees are Angelique G. Brunner ’94, Susan Y. Chon ’91, Joe Dowling, Carlos A. Lejnieks ’00, Russell E. Malbrough ’98 and Sridhar Ramaswamy PhD ’95. Denise Marte MD ’20 will serve a two-year term as a New Alumni Trustee. John C. Atwater ’83, Pamela R. Reeves ’87 and Nancy G. Zimmerman ’85 joined the Board of Fellows. Biographical information for these individuals and other members can be found online:
The trustees and fellows expressed their appreciation and gratitude to all members of the Brown community as we continue to work together to emerge from the pandemic, and with special thanks to the front-line staff in dining services, facilities management, health services, public safety, research labs and facilities and more who have done so much for this campus and community throughout the past year and a half.
Christina H. Paxson