Brown celebrates five years of achievement under Building on Distinction

After reaching the midpoint of its 10-year strategic plan in 2019, the University released a report highlighting the many accomplishments that have contributed to fulfilling the plan’s vision.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Academic centers and programs including the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship and Brown Arts Initiative. Buildings such as the Engineering Research Center, South Street Landing and a reimagined Friedman Hall. Priority initiatives including The Brown Promise and the Undocumented, First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center.

Those are just a few of the countless programs, initiatives and accomplishments across the Brown University campus that are fulfilling the bold vision set forth in Building on Distinction — an ambitious, 10-year strategic plan launched in 2014 that detailed goals for elevating Brown to the next level of excellence.

With calendar year 2019 nearing its culmination, Brown has reached the plan’s midpoint. Christina H. Paxson, who led a campus-wide process to develop Building on Distinction after becoming Brown’s 19th president in 2012, highlighted in a special edition of the Brown University Financial Report many of the ways faculty, staff and students are turning its vision into reality.

“Brown has been steadfast in pursuing investments and aligning resources to build strength in the foundational areas of the plan,” Paxson wrote. “These include elevating our academics through investments in Brown’s people and programs; developing the physical campus to provide the infrastructure to support world-class education, research and the community; and supporting the students, faculty and staff who live and work at Brown and are at the core of what we do every day.”

Among the countless achievements in the five years since the launch of Building on Distinction — with support from exceptional investment performance, sound financial management and record-breaking fundraising, Paxson noted — Brown has:

  • welcomed approximately 90 faculty members engaged in scholarship and teaching across campus and established more than 75 new endowed chairs, enabling the University to compete for and retain highly accomplished teachers and researchers;
  • increased the number of faculty from historically underrepresented groups by 34% since the 2016 launch of Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion, the University’s ambitious diversity and inclusion action plan, as a companion to Building on Distinction;
  • increased annual research expenditures by 29% to $196 million in fiscal year 2019, expending $860 million in grant funding over the last five years toward cutting-edge research across the humanities and the life, physical and social sciences;
  • awarded $927 million in scholarship aid, aligned with the goal of keeping a Brown education affordable for talented students from all economic backgrounds, and — through The Brown Promise initiative — replaced all loans packaged in undergraduate financial aid awards with grants;
  • grown the University’s endowment from $2.6 billion at the start of the plan to an all-time high of $4.2 billion at the close of Fiscal Year 2019, vastly expanding Brown’s ability to support student financial aid, world-class research, new academic programs and other strategic priorities;
  • and invested $528 million in capital projects, adding to and improving a network of 252 buildings across two tightly linked, complementary campuses on College Hill and Providence’s Jewelry District.

Paxson said that as Brown embarks on the next five years of Building on Distinction, the University is well positioned to meet the bold aspirations of the strategic plan and to reach a new level of excellence that Brown will build upon for generations to come.

“I am excited for what lies ahead,” Paxson said. “We are building on the momentum that is advancing Brown’s leadership as a collaborative community known for educational innovation and excellence in scholarship and research. We are building on Brown’s distinction.”

We are building on the momentum that is advancing Brown’s leadership as a collaborative community known for educational innovation and excellence in scholarship and research. We are building on Brown’s distinction.

Christina H. Paxson Brown University President