Date March 28, 2023
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Photos: BEAR Day boasts milestones, boosts Brown staff

As part of Brown’s annual celebration of employees and their exceptional contributions, the University gave a big bear hug to longtime staff members who have dedicated many decades of service.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — As 55 staff members marked their 30-, 35- and 40-year milestones at Brown, many of them joined President Christina H. Paxson in her home in late March for a celebration of their service and the chance to share memories of Brown through the decades.

Representing a combined, whopping 1,815 years of service, the longtime staff members reminisced about their experiences at traditions like Campus Dance during Commencement and Reunion Weekend. They recalled the years before digitization, email and the internet, when desks and tables were piled high with files and documents. They remembered a time when office phones perpetually rang. They were happy to bid farewell to the days when colleagues puffed on cigarettes in their offices.

And regardless of their role or department, they evoked the personal connections and closeness with colleagues that anchored and endeared them to Brown throughout the years.

“Brown is lucky because we have a lot of relatively new people who are great and their energy is fabulous, but the people who have been here for a long time bring balance to the University and the wisdom and experience that we really need,” Paxson said during the celebration.

Thierry Gentis, head curator of Brown’s Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, reflected on the memories he cherished most: interacting with members of the public, partnering to create exhibitions, stewarding and growing the museum’s collection, collaborating across disciplines — and perhaps most of all, working with students.

“Teaching has been fun,” said Gentis, who has spent most of his years at Brown at the museum’s building in Bristol, R.I., where he began as an intern in 1978. “Students would come and commute to the museum for classes and to study anthropology and museum studies. It was neat.”

Gentis is among six employees who were honored for their 40-yearanniversary at Brown. The others are Kevin Andrews, patrol sergeant with the Department of Public Safety; Jeanne Hebert, senior director of strategic purchasing, contracts and insurance; Angel Hilliard, Workday program training consultant; Mark Perry, public safety officer with DPS; and Robert Sowah, custodial shift assistant.

The celebration of longtime staff members was part of the University’s annual BEAR Day tradition to honor the myriad ways in which Brown employees sustain and strengthen the University.

BEAR Day culminated in a celebration for all employees in Sayles Hall on Tuesday, March 28, where Brown celebrated more than 300 staff members who reached a milestone in their years of service in five-year increments, starting at five years, who were honored with certificates, pins and gifts. The event included the presentation of the annual Excellence Awards, which honored seven individuals and seven teams for exceptional contributions. Attendees enjoyed food, a photo booth, remarks from University leaders, a live performance from a faculty and student band Funkadelic, and the screening of a BEAR Day video.