Date October 29, 2016
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Brown Corporation approves election process for new alumni trustees

During its annual fall meeting, the Corporation accepted $91 million in gifts and discussed progress on Building on Distinction, Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion and BrownTogether.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — In the first meeting under its new leadership, the Corporation of Brown University approved a new process to enable graduating students and recent alumni to participate in the selection of the trustees selected from the ranks of recently graduated students. The Corporation also discussed progress on the University’s strategic plan, diversity and inclusion action plan and fundraising campaign, and officially accepted $91 million in BrownTogether campaign gifts.

Chancellor Samuel M. Mencoff, Vice Chancellor Alison S. Ressler and Treasurer Theresia Gouw — in their new Corporation officer roles — joined Secretary Donald C. Hood and fellow members in welcoming six new trustees during the annual fall meeting, held on campus from Oct. 27 to 29, 2016.

Members explored University topics with a number of campus groups. They attended a discussion forum convened with the Undergraduate Council of Students to discuss with students topics ranging from international student experiences to fellowships, internships and life after Brown. Graduate students met with members of the Campus Life Committee. And faculty leaders, and the Faculty Executive Committee officers, met with groups from the Corporation across the three-day meeting.

The Corporation received updates on campus planning projects, including from the architects for the Wilson Hall renovation and the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs expansion. And they received a progress report on fundraising for a new performing arts center at Brown.

In addition to the traditional October agenda of discussion sessions, committee meetings, delivery of reports and interactions with the community, the Corporation attended to three important items of business: approval of the new process for electing new alumni trustees, engagement of new members and the formal acceptance of gifts to the University.

New alumni trustee selection

With input from current Brown students and a goal to increase engagement of graduating students and new alumni in University governance, the Corporation approved a new process for electing what will be termed new alumni trustees (currently known as young alumni trustees).

The Corporation formally established, in 2009, a position to provide for newly graduated alumni to serve on the Corporation as trustees. Beginning in 2017, the Corporation will reserve two positions among its membership for new alumni trustees, appointed for staggered two-year terms. The new approach to selecting these alumni trustees follows a conversation over the last year about creating a mechanism to ensure that graduating students and recent alumni take an active role in electing the trustees who most recently culminated their own student experience.

“New alumni trustees contribute an important perspective that is closely grounded in the student experience,” said Russell Carey, executive vice president for planning and policy who oversees Brown’s Corporation Office.

Eligible new alumni trustee candidates include undergraduate, graduate and medical students in their final year of study and alumni no more than three years past graduation. An election will be held annually with graduating students and new alumni eligible to vote for the new alumni trustee from a slate of three candidates. To arrive at that slate of candidates, an advisory committee comprised of students, faculty and administrators, will solicit nominations and advise the Corporation on potential candidates.

Kayla S. Rosen, a 2014 graduate, and Mya L. Roberson, a 2016 graduate, serve as the current trustees selected from among recently graduated students. The first election under the new process will take place next spring.

Engagement of new members

The Brown Charter of 1764 requires the Corporation to ensure its own succession by electing trustees, fellows and officers. The Corporation traditionally elects new members at its meeting during Commencement Weekend and formally engages them in October, the first full meeting of the academic year. At its meeting this week, the Corporation welcomed six new trustees, who were elected last May:

Jerome C. Vascellaro, a 1974 graduate, and Brian T. Moynihan, a 1981 graduate, joined the Board of Fellows.

Gift acceptance, endowed positions and other actions

The Corporation discussed progress on the BrownTogether campaign, which was formally launched in October 2015 with a comprehensive goal of $3 billion. University policy requires that the Corporation formally accept gifts and pledges in the amount of $1 million or more. At its business meeting, the Corporation accepted 19 gifts and pledges totaling more than $91 million.

“These generous commitments provide critical support to a wide range of Brown’s academic priorities,” Brown President Christina Paxson said in an email to the Brown community. “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 Corporation also established of a number of endowed positions in recognition of gifts received:

  • A Watson Institute University Professorship in China Studies, with funding from parents from Hong Kong who wish to remain anonymous;
  • The Robert J. and Nancy D. Carney University Professorship in Economics, with funding from Brown Trustee Robert J. Carney, a 1961 graduate, and Nancy D. Carney;
  • The Carole and Lawrence Sirovich Professorship for Public Health, with funding from Trustee Matthew I. Sirovich, a 1987 graduate, and Meredith A. Elson, a 1991 graduate;
  • The Edens Family Chair in Healthcare Communications and Technology, with funding from Brown parents Wesley R. Edens and Lynn M. Edens;
  • An Assistant Professorship in Public Health, with funding from anonymous donors;
  • The 1976 Hall of Fame Hockey Team Director of Operations for Brown Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey, with funding from anonymous donors.

The Corporation also approved the naming of a room in the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center as the Freedman Family Lounge as well as an anatomy lab within the Warren Alpert Medical School in honor of the Poch family.

The Corporation will hold its next regular meeting in February.