Date November 2, 2021
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Brown surpasses $3 billion BrownTogether fundraising goal early, will extend campaign

Having reached its target more than a year ahead of schedule, the University will continue raising funds for student scholarships and faculty research, while establishing new goals in the months to come.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — More than a year ahead of its planned December 2022 end date, BrownTogether, the most ambitious fundraising campaign in Brown University history, has eclipsed its original $3 billion goal.

Given continued momentum in support of BrownTogether’s vision for strengthening Brown, and its positive impact on everything from student scholarships to community engagement initiatives to research on pressing issues, the University will extend the campaign timeline. In the coming months, Brown’s senior leaders and members of the Corporation of Brown University will update the campaign’s priorities and establish a revised fundraising target and new end date.

President Christina H. Paxson said the remarkable generosity of Brown alumni, parents and friends is deepening the educational experience for talented students and enabling scholars on campus to make an ever-increasing impact on societal challenges with implications well beyond campus.

“The momentum and community commitment behind BrownTogether has been simply extraordinary, and we will build on that energy and philanthropic engagement in ways that enable Brown to make a meaningful impact both at home in Rhode Island and across the globe,” Paxson said. “We will continue to focus fundraising for initiatives central to our mission — making a Brown education accessible to the best and brightest students, attracting leading scholars to teach and conduct research in a spirit of free inquiry, and advancing discovery in areas where we can make breakthroughs that improve lives.”

Launched in 2015, BrownTogether has raised funds that are advancing Brown’s mission through investments in people, innovative research and education, campus infrastructure and the student experience.

Sergio Gonzalez, senior vice president for advancement, credits the early success of BrownTogether to the leadership of its co-chairs — Theresia Gouw, Ralph Rosenberg and Joan Wernig Sorensen — and the more than 66,000 alumni, parents, friends, faculty, staff and students who donated and/or inspired others to support Brown’s mission.

“Over the course of the campaign, and time and time again, our alumni and donor community has stepped up and come together in extraordinary ways,” Gonzalez said. “We reached the original $3 billion goal sooner than we could have imagined, and it’s clear that the Brown community is not yet finished. Our donors and supporters want to ensure that Brown makes real and lasting change in society and in the lives of our students.”

Investing in people

Among the campaign’s key goals, $814 million has been raised to support priorities including student financial aid, endowed chairs that advance faculty teaching and research, and diversity and inclusion initiatives.

In total, BrownTogether has generated $347 million in financial aid funding, which includes $110 million for The Brown Promise, an initiative that replaced loans with scholarships in all University-packaged undergraduate financial aid awards beginning in 2018-19. Since then, more than 1,500 students have had initial financial aid packages with no loans, and Brown has seen a 56% drop in the number of students across all income levels incurring debt to cover the costs of attendance.

Another success made possible by campaign funds is the launch of a new initiative to double the number of U.S. military veterans enrolled as Brown undergraduates by admitting student veterans through a need-blind process and offering full financial support. Donors — including Brown parent and U.S. Army veteran Joseph P. Healey — have given $21.3 million to the initiative, with a 71% increase in student veterans enrolled at Brown in just two years.

Another significant outcome of the BrownTogether campaign has been strong donor response to supporting endowed professorships. In total, the campaign has established 110 professorships in academic areas ranging from the humanities and economics to environmental science and computer science.

Brown Provost Richard M. Locke said that these endowed positions provide long-term support that helps the University recruit scholars who are at the top of their fields and retain faculty who are outstanding teachers and researchers. Scholars named to endowed chairs established during the campaign include American Sociological Association president-elect Prudence Carter (sociology), accomplished brain scientist Kate O’Connor-Giles (neuroscience) and National Medal of Science winner S. James Gates Jr. (physics), among many others.

BrownTogether has provided the resources to further advance faculty excellence in fields where Brown has already been a leader and innovator,” Locke said. “It has also allowed us to achieve deeper and broader expertise in brain science, computer science, international and public affairs, and other critical areas where research across disciplines can drive new insights that benefit society.”

In support of the University’s ambitious Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, the campaign is also playing a key role in diversifying the Brown faculty: “We have nearly achieved our goal of doubling the number of faculty from groups historically underrepresented in higher education, with an increase from 58 HUG faculty in 2014-15 to more than 100 this year,” Locke noted. “Diversity in expertise, experience and perspective is essential for solving complex challenges, and BrownTogether is helping us achieve that.”

Solving global problems through education and research

While BrownTogether has driven strong support for financial aid and faculty recruitment, it has also motivated alumni, parents and friends to provide an unprecedented level of donor funding for education and research. Approximately $1.2 billion has been raised for these priorities, a total that significantly exceeds the original goal of $900 million.

“There are academic areas like brain science, public health and medicine where it has become clear, especially over the course of the past year, that Brown can have a major impact, whether that be in pandemic preparedness, creating more equity in health care delivery or developing new insights into devastating diseases,” said Samuel M. Mencoff, the University’s chancellor. “Brown has an opportunity to advance important work in these and other areas of research that can produce new knowledge and the prospect of novel treatments and programs that the community, the nation and the world need now.”

Most notably, a $100 million gift from Robert J. and Nancy D. Carney — one of the largest in the University’s history — named the Carney Institute for Brain Science in 2018. The gift is driving an ambitious agenda to quicken the pace of scientific discovery and help find cures to some of the persistent and devastating diseases, including paralysis, spinal disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

Separately, a $25 million gift to the Carney Institute is supporting computational brain science and endowed a program to promote innovative research, while $30 million in giving established a new Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research. One project at the new center is focused on identifying markers of the preclinical stages of Alzheimer’s, which could lead to a non-invasive, more affordable screening test for the disease in its early stages.

“I would like to see Brown help to open the modern era of treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, where patients can receive an early and accurate diagnosis and start on treatments that preserve memory and quality of life,” said Dr. Stephen Salloway, a leading Alzheimer’s researcher and associate director of the center.

Among other examples where BrownTogether giving is making an impact in research and education:

  • With $50 million from Samuel and Ann Mencoff, scholars at the Warren Alpert Medical School are working to advance biomedical research and discoveries into treatments and cures for disease.
  • With $25 million from the Bravo Family Foundation, a new research center is enabling Brown’s economics department to expand the scope of its data-driven scholarship and to amplify its focus on training the next generation of economics researchers.
  • With $12.5 million from the family of Alan Hassenfeld, the University launched the Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute with key hospital partners, bringing together researchers, physicians, students and community partners to transform children’s health in Rhode Island and beyond.
  • With a $25 million gift from Jonathan M. Nelson, Brown created the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship, which provides support to students at every stage of the entrepreneurial process, works with researchers to further inquiry in entrepreneurship, and partners with entrepreneurs on and off campus.
  • With approximately $40 million in support, the Political Theory Project is transforming political discourse by diving beneath easy ideological labels and encouraging scholarship and debate that convenes brilliant minds from a wide diversity of viewpoints.
  • With a $27 million gift from the Warren Alpert Foundation, Brown has expanded and enhanced its M.D./Ph.D. program and created the first Brown Institute for Translational Science professorship.

With continued momentum in support of Brown’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, BrownTogether gifts and grants are also catalyzing research on race and inequity.

At the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, scholars are convening for urgent explorations on how anti-Black racism permeates American public health, criminal justice and election procedures. A new $5 million endowment established by Class of 1982 alumna Perri A. Peltz is ensuring long-term financial support for teaching and research activities; and through a $4 million grant from the Mellon Foundation, CSREA and partners at Yale, Stanford and the University of Chicago are collaborating on programs that confront major issues rooted in racial inequity, from economic inequality to incarceration.

At the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, faculty and students are collaborating with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture on a project that will generate the world’s largest collection of oral histories about racial slavery and its legacies. Grants supported by Brown alumnus David Haas from the Wyncote Foundation and the Waterman II Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation established a $5 million endowment to permanently support that project and other work at CSSJ. A grant from the Mellon Foundation is enabling CSSJ to partner on a project that uses maritime history to study historical injustices.

Elsewhere on campus, the largest gift in the Pembroke Center’s history — from Class of 1976 alumna Shauna Stark — is establishing an endowed directorship and supporting bold feminist research by scholars from multiple fields of study. At the University Library, with funding from a major BrownTogether gift, a new Center for Library Exploration and Research is strengthening academic excellence, fueling innovative scholarship and bringing research resources and collections to more adults and kids in the greater community.

Strengthening Brown’s collaborative community

The BrownTogether campaign has made far-reaching contributions to the University’s evolving campus and community. This includes modern laboratories to support research that can spark solutions for more efficient energy sources and better treatment of human diseases, state-of-the art performing arts and athletics facilities, and student initiatives that open doors to learning and leadership outside the classroom. Among the many highlights:

  • With $77 million in donor support, Brown launched a state-of-the-art Engineering Research Center home to specialized facilities for nanoscale and biomedical engineering.
  • With $24 million from the Richard A. and Susan P. Friedman Family Foundation, Brown transformed the venerable Wilson Hall into Friedman Hall, adding modern classrooms and common areas for students.
  • With more than $187 million in gifts, including $20 million from Diana Nelson and John Atwater (part of a $31.6 million gift), a cutting-edge Performing Arts Center will open in 2023 in the heart of campus.
  • With lead gifts from Barry Sternlicht and Mimi Reichert Sternlicht, and from the family of the late Duncan MacMillan, the new Sternlicht Commons and Brown University Health & Wellness Center opened in 2021.
  • With $50 million from a consortium of long-time Brown supporters, the Watson Institute for Public and International Affairs debuted the Stephen Robert ’62 P’91 Hall building in 2018. 

At the University’s athletics complex, the student-athlete experience has been enriched through more than $178 million raised for Brown Athletics facilities and programs. That includes funding for 25 endowed coaching positions and more than $68 million for facilities including the Marston Boathouse, locker rooms in the Pizzitola Sports Center, baseball and softball fields, football training facilities, and the Center for Lacrosse and Soccer at Stevenson-Pincince Field. Other gifts have allowed for upgrades for playing surfaces for football and track, as well as much-needed infrastructure renovations at Meehan Auditorium for men’s and women’s ice hockey. And alumnus Tom McMullen established a $5 million Excellence in Athletics Fund to support student-athletes and a wide range of priorities across Brown's varsity teams.

 “We have seen exceptional levels of support for Brown Athletics thus far in the BrownTogether campaign, and we now have a great opportunity to build on this momentum,” said M. Grace Calhoun, vice president for athletics and recreation. “New investments to endow coaching positions and programs and to continue enhancing our playing fields and facilities will not only provide longer-term financial stability, but also equip our student-athletes with more of what they need to compete at the highest levels.”

Campaign funding has also enhanced the undergraduate and alumni experience through giving to BrownConnect, a program and digital platform that connects students with alumni — and alumni with each other — and expands accessibility to research and internship opportunities. Since its 2015 launch, Brown has raised more than $32 million to support participation in research projects and internships for thousands of students.

The power of annual giving

Additional investment in the student experience has also been made possible through BrownTogether’s focus on immediate-use giving and the Brown Annual Fund. Since the campaign launch, the annual fund has seen record-setting growth, with a total raised of more than $325 million that has been put to use right away for a variety of student needs, from financial aid through scholarships to emergency support for students.

After the arrival of COVID-19, donors gave approximately $25 million to the President’s Response Fund and the Student Emergency Support Fund, covering unexpected pandemic-related costs for students and enabling the University to support those facing financial challenges as they transitioned to remote learning. A Medical Student Response Fund helped medical students meet travel, housing and other needs as they stepped up to help frontline health care workers who were contending with the effects of the pandemic.

“Over the course of the BrownTogether campaign, my fellow co-chairs and I have been overwhelmed by the collaborative spirit of our community,” said Brown alumna, parent and honorary degree recipient Joan Wernig Sorensen. “The alumni, parents, and friends who have participated in this ambitious effort each and every year are the catalysts for Brown’s ongoing success and its rapidly increasing leadership in the public sphere. Their generosity has enabled us to preserve the most distinctive aspects of a Brown education while strengthening our faculty and students’ capacity to create real change.”

Another notable annual giving success was the establishment of the Inman Page Black Alumni Council Brown Annual Fund Scholarship in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Black Student Walkout at Brown. The scholarship has made a Brown education more accessible to outstanding Black and African American students, with $2.7 million raised, now supporting a dozen students.

Throughout the campaign, Brown has continued to break records for its annual fund “giving days.” In December 2020, Brown had its most successful Giving Tuesday ever, with nearly 5,000 donors contributing more than $4.1 million. Generous donors also regularly contributed matching funds, which helped to significantly increase the totals and motivate donor participation.

Investing in the future

While BrownTogether has already made a wide-ranging positive mark, Paxson said there are significant opportunities to build on the fundraising success to do even more to advance the impact that Brown student and faculty scholars have locally, nationally and around the world. Raising funds for endowed scholarships and professorships will continue to be a priority, she noted, and changes in areas like public health and the geopolitical landscape will influence the ways in which Brown’s senior leaders update additional priorities as the campaign continues. 

“When we launched BrownTogether, we saw it as the engine to help us fuel the Building on Distinction strategic plan,” Paxson said. “The plan’s areas of focus — including Deciphering Disease and Creating Peaceful, Just and Prosperous Societies — have in the last few years taken on even greater global significance. Brown has made remarkable strides in unearthing new knowledge to help address these and other societal issues, thanks in large part to campaign support, and we want to strengthen that commitment at a time when the world needs the kind of talent, education and research we have to offer.”