Skip over navigation
Brown shield Brown shield Brown University Brown shield Brown shield Brown University University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice

Brown University's Response

to the Report of the
Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice
February 2007

Executive Summary

The Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice has made a significant and permanent contribution to historical scholarship on slavery in the Americas, particularly in the northeast United States. It has produced a provocative document that challenges assumptions, sets the historical record straight and invites fresh consideration of the moral and ethical milieu in which major American institutions, including Brown University, were established and sustained. As an outgrowth of that report and the three-year process of research, scholarship and community discussion that supported it, Brown University has decided to respond to the report and is committed to the following course of actions:

  1. The University will commission a revision of its official history so that it presents a more complete picture of the origins of Brown.
  2. The University will disseminate the report and make it accessible to anyone upon request in a variety of media including Web, print, and CD/DVD free of charge.
  3. The relevant materials used in preparation of the report will be held in the University’s permanent archives. The University will ensure that its libraries and museums will have the resources to make the materials available to scholars and to present them to the public in exhibitions from time to time.
  4. The University will work with representatives of the City of Providence and the State of Rhode Island to form a commission that will develop ideas for how the history of slavery and the slave trade in Rhode Island may gain its appropriate and permanent place in the public historical record.
  5. Through existing departments, centers, and institutes or through creation of a new academic entity, the University’s Corporation, administration, and faculty will undertake a major research and teaching initiative on slavery and justice.Whether this results in a new center or the significant enlargement of an existing and coordinated set of programs should be determined through this process.
  6. The University will take steps to strengthen and expand the Department of Africana Studies. A team of outside experts in the field will be appointed to asses the existing program and make recommendations for its improvement, including the department’s facilities.
  7. The University will strengthen and expand its program with Tougaloo College under the aegis of the Advisory Council on Relations with Tougaloo College.
  8. The University will continue its program of providing technical assistance to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Begun in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Brown will expand this program to include other HBCU institutions and invite additional universities to assist in this effort by providing academic and administrative consultants to support strategic and financial planning, academic oversight, administrative review, governance revisions and assessments, and other needs as defined by HBCU boards of trustees and presidents. The University also affirms its historical and continuing commitment to contribute in meaningful ways to the health of the Providence and Rhode Island communities, especially its public K-12 schools. Because there is little in the broader society that correlates as closely to the University’s own mission as elementary and secondary education, and because access to education is essential in a just and equitable society, Brown University also commits to the following:
  9. The University will raise a permanent endowment in the amount of $10 million to establish a Fund for the Education of the Children of Providence. The endowment will be overseen by the Corporation of Brown University, and allocation of funds from the endowment will be determined by the University with input from the Superintendent of Providence Schools.
  10. The University will provide free tuition to as many as 10 admitted graduate students per year who, after successful completion of a master’s degree in teaching or a master’s degree in urban education policy, agree to serve in Providence-areas schools or surrounding area schools for a minimum of three years.
  11. The University will continue its support for the Providence public schools through an array of programs, including a position in the Office of the Superintendent of Providence Schools, for professional development of teachers, for curriculum development, for mentoring and tutoring of students, for gifts of equipment, and for other activities in support of schools and teachers.
  12. The University will engage an outside consultant to evaluate the effectiveness of new and ongoing programs of support for the schools.

Want more? Download The University’s complete response to the committee report (PDF)