October 28, 2008 Minutes

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
4:00 P.M. – 5:30 P.M.
Leung Gallery

Members: President Simmons, Provost Kertzer, Karen Davis, Margaret Klawunn, Marisa Quinn, David Cutts, Stephen Foley, Marida Hollos, Evelyn Hu-Dehart, Lynne Joyrich, David Sheinberg, Brian Becker, Alison Cohen, Michael Glassman, Clay Wertheimer, James Doyle, Esther Dorzin, Carin Algava, Gillian Bell, Yolanda Castillo-Appollonio, Nancy Fjeldheim, Sarah Sharpe, Marlene Cutitar, Charlie Kroll, and Damon Rarick were in attendance. Vince Tompkins, Anthony Cokes, Chi-Ming Hai, Timothy Herbert, Suzanne de la Monte, Subha Subramanian, Lauren Buckel, Joseph Bush, Kartik Venkatesh, Kathleen Rossi, and Ken McDaniel were unable to attend.

The minutes of the September 16, 2008 meeting were approved.

President Simmons had to leave the meeting early so Provost Kertzer presided.

Margaret Klawunn, Vice President of Campus Life and Student Services, Suzanne Colby, Chair of the Subcommittee on Alcohol and Other Drugs, and Francie Mantak, Director of Health Education, gave an overview of the Amethyst Initiative and reviewed the views of its supporters and opponents. The Amethyst Initiative supports informed and unimpeded debate on the 21 year-old drinking age. Amethyst Initiative presidents and chancellors call upon elected officials to weigh all the consequences of current alcohol policies and to invite new ideas on how best to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol use.

Reiko Koyama ’11, Dana Eldridge ’10, and Jerry Wolf Duff Sellers ’09, presented a proposal to end the observance of Columbus Day. The proposal has three components: 1.) End the observance of Columbus Day at Brown University by removing it from the academic and administrative calendars by the 2009-2010 school year. 2.) Create a new academic and administrative holiday on a date of the University’s choosing, excluding the second weekend in October. 3.) Honor the dedication of an Indigenous Week at Brown in October, containing the opening convocation of Native American’s at Brown’s (NAB) heritage series in October. Supporters of the proposal believe that the holiday is based on historical inaccuracies and in effect condones the atrocities for which Columbus is responsible.

Following a discussion with the presenters and among its members the Council voted unanimously in favor of the following motion: The Brown University Community Council understands that there are concerns associated with the celebration of Columbus Day and the recognition of Native American history. It is recommended that these concerns be considered by the appropriate faculty, administrative, and staff governing bodies. The Council is grateful that this matter was brought before them.

Brenda Allen, Associate Provost and Director of Institutional Diversity gave an update on the Diversity Action Plan. The Plan recognizes that diversity and academic excellence go hand-in-hand and is focused on recruitment, retention, management, and assessment. 
A goal of the Plan is increasing the diversity of faculty through targeted and aggressive 
recruitment strategies and innovative retention programs. The goals of addressing the 
diversity among undergraduate students and improving recruitment of graduate students and medical students from underrepresented backgrounds are also part of the Plan. Ms. Allen identified successes and areas of improvement within the Plan. Brown has been successful in increasing the number of female faculty members in the physical sciences. Brown has made progress in the diversity of its student populations but there is still work to be done.

Provost Kertzer gave an update on how Brown is faring in the current economic environment. Brown is in strong shape due to its sound endowment policy and financial expertise among its administrators and members of the Corporation. There are no dramatic changes expected in the next budget, but there is pressure for the University to be more efficient in this time of great uncertainty.

The next meeting of the Brown University Community Council will be held on November 11, 2008 
from 4:00 – 5:30 pm in Leung Gallery, Faunce House.

Respectfully submitted,

Catherine Pincince
Secretary of the Brown University Community Council