On collegiality and community: reflections from the chancellor’s colleagues

Corporation officers who have served with Thomas J. Tisch share insights on his contributions to Brown and his approach to leadership.

Chancellor Thomas J. Tisch
Chancellor Thomas J. Tisch (standing) and Vice Chancellor Jerome C. Vascellaro (seated) partnered to lead the Corporation of Brown University from 2007 to 2016. Nick Dentamaro

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — As Thomas J. Tisch prepares to transition leadership of Brown’s governing body to his successor, some of the chancellor’s fellow Corporation officers — past, present and future — shared thoughts on his collegial approach and his consequential impact.

Read the complete news feature on Tisch's tenure here.

Christina Paxson, President
“Tom Tisch has poured his heart and soul into Brown University over the past nine years, during extremely challenging times, like the 2008 financial crisis, and also through a period of remarkable growth — in resources, facilities, academic standards and standing. Tom has done this with an unerring instinct for what makes for a great university: upholding very high academic standards, making principled decisions, and cultivating a strong, vibrant and good community.”

Samuel M. Mencoff, Chancellor-Elect
“Under the wise and steady leadership of Tom Tisch, Brown today is positioned more strongly than ever to fulfill its mission of service to the community, the nation and the world. Future generations will look back upon the Tisch Chancellorship as a time of great achievement — a time when Brown moved forward with confidence and purpose and elevated its standing among the world’s great universities. Many generations of Brown students and faculty yet to come will be enriched by his wise and enlightened stewardship. It has been my great privilege to serve with Tom.”

Alison S. Ressler, Vice Chancellor-Elect and Departing Treasurer
“Tom Tisch has been an extraordinary chancellor and is as dedicated to Brown as anyone I have ever met. He truly leads by example. His knowledge and understanding of the University is deep. He has the exact right mix of leadership and ability to listen to others. I think his leadership through the transition from President Simmons to President Paxson exemplifies his skills and acumen. Brown didn’t skip a beat, and he led a large group through a complex process that had a terrific outcome for all of us. It has been an honor and privilege to serve as treasurer under Tom Tisch.”

Stephen Robert, Chancellor Emeritus
“Tom clearly had a passion for this role, and he gave it unparalleled attention. What impresses me most are the intangibles — the intense dedication to his task, the genuine warmth and empathy for others, always giving others credit, being the ultimate altruist without any agenda for himself, his boundless generosity. These are the qualities that mark the man and induce others to follow his leadership. All of us who love Brown and who passionately believe in the societal value of higher education owe Tom an enduring gratitude. He is the ultimate son of Brown.”

Theresia Gouw, Treasurer-Elect
“Chancellor Tisch’s leadership has inspired all of us to do more for Brown University.  He has inspired us through his own amazing actions and all he contributes to Brown: his love of this University, his wisdom, and all he has does to help Brown.”

Jerome C. Vascellaro, Departing Vice Chancellor
“As Tom will tell you himself, he is very much the ‘convener’ of the corporation, and that is a role he plays very adeptly. He is an inclusive, open and authentic leader. His style is to listen to what people have to say and to ensure that people with a variety of perspectives have the opportunity to contribute to deliberations. I have very much enjoyed the chance to partner with him in problem-solving and in ensuring that we continue to make progress as an institution.”

Donald C. Hood, Secretary
“It is not always easy to identify characteristics that make a successful leader. Tom Tisch’s trust in a transparent process and the goodwill of others are certainly among his. In addition, I would add preparation to the intangible personality characteristics that have made him so successful. No matter what the issue, no one on the Corporation was better prepared, and no one worked harder to understand the nuances. Tom has left his mark on Brown University, and it was a great pleasure to watch it happen.”