PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — To expand and strengthen two academic areas essential to Brown’s ability to serve a wide range of learners, the University will establish its School of Professional Studies and a new Division of Pre-College and Summer Undergraduate Programs as independent units, each under new leadership.
The School of Professional Studies (SPS) prepares accomplished professionals for careers as industry leaders through four executive master’s programs. And Brown’s pre-college programs bring thousands of high school students to Providence each summer to live and study on Brown’s campus.
University Provost Richard M. Locke outlined the changes, which will take effect on Aug. 1, 2019, in a letter to the campus community on Thursday, June 13. He said the restructuring will solidify Brown’s leadership in these areas, expand their reach to new audiences and enhance the University’s profile locally, nationally and internationally.
“Given the rapid growth of each entity in recent years, the distinct academic calendars and populations served, and the significant potential for these programs to make an even greater impact through innovative programming, this restructuring will enable each unit to have the flexibility and targeted resources needed to excel,” Locke said. “In addition, the School of Professional Studies in its revised form will support a broader portfolio of professional master’s programs at Brown, which will require even stronger connections with academic departments and greater faculty participation in teaching and advising.”
Leah VanWey, professor of environment and society and sociology, and Brown’s associate provost for academic space, will become dean of the newly reconfigured SPS.
VanWey is an IBES fellow and former Senior Deputy Director (Research) of the Institute.
As dean of the newly reconfigured SPS, VanWey will provide executive oversight of the school’s academic programs, finance and administrative operations and student life, and work with academic leaders across the University to develop new areas for growth and success. She will also develop and manage a growing portfolio of credit and non-credit programs that align with the University’s strategic priorities and reach new audiences of professional learners.
“This reorganization allows us to focus on building programs that bring the Brown experience to learners beyond our traditional undergraduates and Ph.D. students,” VanWey said. “I look forward to the opportunity to build on existing SPS programs and deepen linkages to academic departments and schools to translate the creativity and breadth of a Brown educational experience into programs for this group of students.”
VanWey came to Brown in 2008, as a faculty member in sociology affiliated with the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, and her core research interests lie in the interplay between environmental change, demographic processes and human well-being in developing countries, especially Brazil.
Locke said that VanWey brings to the position essential academic and administrative skills needed to advance the school’s work, as well as deep experience building collaborative relationships across campus. VanWey has advised, taught and mentored undergraduate and graduate students and contributed to the leadership of several interdisciplinary units. She served as associate director of the Population Studies and Training Center from 2011 to 2016, successfully securing renewed federal funding for the graduate training program in demography.
As associate provost for academic space, she worked with academic departments to understand their operations and space needs and to help develop and deliver solutions. In the last two years, she has provided essential leadership in Brown’s path to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. VanWey holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
To learn more about this new initiative, please see the full press release published at News from Brown.