Brown’s president named to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Christina Paxson, Brown’s 19th president and an economics and public health scholar, has been elected a member of one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University President Christina Paxson, a nationally recognized higher education leader and a respected economist and public health scholar, has been elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies.

The academy announced the election of Paxson and 227 other new members on Wednesday, April 12. The group include some of the world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, artists along with civic, business and philanthropic leaders.  

In addition to her role as president, Paxson serves as a professor of economics and international and public affairs at Brown. Her membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences recognizes her academic work in particular, including her most recent research focused on the relationship of economic factors to health and welfare over the life course, particularly on the health and welfare of children.

"I am humbled to join such a distinguished community of scholars, researchers and leaders," Paxson said. “Being elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is not only an honor, but it also conveys a social responsibility to serve the public good by promoting the advancement of knowledge and understanding. I look forward to helping move the academy's mission forward."

The academy’s 2017 class includes winners of the Pulitzer Prize and the Wolf Prize; MacArthur Fellows; Fields Medalists; Presidential Medal of Freedom and National Medal of Arts recipients; and Academy Award, Grammy Award, Emmy Award and Tony Award winners. Specific honorees include philanthropist and singer-songwriter John Legend, award-winning actress Carol Burnett, chairman of the board of Xerox Corporation Ursula Burns, mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, immunologist James P. Allison and writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

“It is an honor to welcome this new class of exceptional women and men as part of our distinguished membership,” said Don Randel, chair of the academy’s board of directors. “Their talents and expertise will enrich the life of the academy and strengthen our capacity to spread knowledge and understanding in service to the nation.”

After her 2012 arrival as Brown’s president, Paxson worked with students, faculty and staff to develop Building on Distinction, a 10-year strategic plan that is shaping the University’s growth and progress. She is leading Brown in its increased emphasis on teaching, research and scholarship that spans disciplines in such areas as bioengineering, environmental security, data sciences and addressing societal issues through humanistic inquiry.

Key areas of focus of her presidency have included empowering collaboration and cultivating entrepreneurship among teacher-scholars and students; expanding Brown’s rich research environment being developed in Providence’s Jewelry District; and creating engaged learning programs that integrate teaching with community-based research and real-world experiences.

Prior to her appointment at Brown, Paxson was dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs and the Hughes Rogers Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University. While at Princeton, she was the founding director of a National Institute on Aging Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging. In 2000, she founded the Center for Health and Wellbeing in the Woodrow Wilson School, for which served as the director until 2009.

She has been the principal investigator on a number of research projects supported by the National Institutes of Health, authored or co-authored numerous journal articles, was elected vice president of the American Economic Association in 2012, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In January 2016, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston named Paxson to its board of directors.

Paxson is a 1982 honors graduate of Swarthmore College, Phi Beta Kappa, and earned her graduate degrees in economics at Columbia University (M.A., 1985; Ph.D., 1987).

The new American Academy of Arts and Sciences members will be officially inducted at a ceremony to be held in Cambridge, Mass., next October.