2-14-2013: News from the Corporation Meeting

February 14, 2013

Dear Members of the Brown Community,

I write to you with news of the February meeting of The Corporation of Brown University. Due to the blizzard this past weekend, the Corporation meeting on-campus was shortened and the business meeting was held via teleconference. Nonetheless, the Corporation engaged in some preliminary discussions of strategic planning topics, financial planning and sustainability for the long-term, as well as the budget for next year; accepted a number of generous gifts supporting academic priorities; and approved the recommendation of the faculty to establish a School of Public Health, effective July 1, 2013.

School of Public Health

The Corporation’s approval of the unanimous faculty recommendation to create a School of Public Health beginning July 1 is a significant milestone that promises to accelerate the fast growth in research and teaching already underway at Brown. Areas of public health inquiry and action, such as addiction, aging, epidemiology, health behavior, and biostatistical analysis are of vital social importance, and Brown is widely known for excellence in these fields. The decision to elevate the program to the status of a school provides our public health faculty and students with an even greater ability to realize their potential as leaders and scholars. Additionally, in continued partnership with The Warren Alpert Medical School, which has nurtured this program for decades, the School of Public Health will make Brown an ever more vital force for improving health in Rhode Island, the nation and the world.

More information regarding the School of Public Health is available online. We are grateful to Dean Fox Wetle for her leadership of this initiative, and to all the faculty, students, and staff who have contributed to Brown’s success in public health over many years.

Strategic Planning

The Corporation had intended to hold a day-long retreat with a focus on the strategic planning effort underway this year. That retreat was shortened considerably due to the weather. Members had received the interim reports of the strategic planning committees and the results of the faculty resources survey, which had been made available to the campus community on the strategic planning website last month, and discussions of these materials took place in some committees. During the course of the spring we will schedule opportunities for Corporation members to continue these discussions. These meetings, which will parallel similar conversations with faculty, students and staff, will provide members of the Corporation opportunities to ask questions, consider and discuss trade-offs, share their own ideas, and provide input and feedback. A consolidated plan will be presented to the Corporation at the May meeting.

During the weekend the Corporation also heard a presentation from Executive Vice President for Finance & Administration Beppie Huidekoper regarding the University budget and sustainable financial models for higher education, a topic being discussed at universities and colleges across the country. Constraints on net tuition revenue, forecasted declines in federal research funding, and a sluggish economy all pose real and significant challenges to our aspirations for growth and continued improvement. We are fortunate that Brown’s overall position is strong: the investments and accomplishments of the Plan for Academic Enrichment have created a solid foundation on which we can build. However, in the current economic climate, we will need to make thoughtful decisions about how to best achieve our goals and the strategic planning process has been designed to enable us to do so in a deliberate and effective manner. I am confident in the ability of the Brown community to set – and achieve – goals that support our desire for academic excellence, and which build on Brown’s focus on innovative education and scholarship in the service of society.

FY14 Budget, Tuition and Fees, and Financial Aid

Members of the Corporation considered the report of the University Resources Committee (URC) and my recommendations regarding the budget, tuition and fees for next year. These discussions take place in the context of a national and international economy that continues to be characterized by uncertainty and challenge. For FY14, we presented the budget in a new format, with four entities comprising the consolidated operating budget: the Education and General (E&G) budget, the Auxiliary Operations, the Alpert Medical School and the Programs in Biology, and the new School of Public Health. We used the opportunity created by establishing the School of Public Health not only to separate Public Health from Biology & Medicine, but also to implement a simplified and more transparent financial relationship between the schools and the rest of Brown’s operations. The new format clearly identifies the University’s support to the schools for their significant contributions to undergraduate teaching as well as for a number of strategic priorities.

Tuition remains the University’s major source of revenue, and no aspect of the budget recommendation is more challenging than tuition and fee increases. Every percentage point of a tuition increase generates about $1.7 million (net of financial aid increases), and every new dollar of revenue enables improvements to the quality of education we offer our students. For FY14 the URC recommended, and we approved, a 4 percent increase in tuition and fees. The approved budget also provides for a 5.6 percent increase in the undergraduate financial aid budget, significantly higher than the increase in tuition and fees. The University anticipates spending about $95.7 million on undergraduate scholarships next year, and ensuring access to a Brown education remains one of our highest priorities. As noted above, we will consider the additional goals and priorities identified by the strategic planning committee in the months ahead.

The overall approved operating budget for FY14 will be 3.5 percent higher than the current fiscal year. The budget anticipates expenditures totaling $902 million, with revenues of $897.6 million. We will cover the deficit by drawing on $4.4 million in reserves. The approved budget includes higher graduate student stipends, faculty and staff salary increase pools, a small increase in budgeted faculty positions, investments in the School of Engineering, enhancements to improve campus safety, and necessary investments in information technology.

For more information on the budget and a link to the full URC report, please see the news release online.

Acceptance of Gifts and Other Business

During the business meeting the Corporation accepted and ratified a number of gifts, totaling more than $31 million. These include:

  • From Martin J. Granoff LHD ’06 hon., P’93 a gift of $10,000,000 to be designated in consultation with the President;
  • From the Irene Diamond Fund, a gift in the form of a limited partnership interest in real property currently valued at between $4 and $7 million, to support work in public health and aging in the School of Public Health;
  • From anonymous donors, a gift of $5,500,000 for the Rooftop Greenhouse and Conservatory of the Building for Environmental Research and Teaching, and for the support of the Brown Annual Fund;
  • From an anonymous donor, an additional gift of $3,000,000 designated for the renovation of the John Hay Library. The reading room is to be named at a later date in recognition of these gifts;
  • From The Kim and Ralph Rosenberg Family Foundation, Ralph Rosenberg '86, P'17 and Kim Rosenberg P'17 as Trustees, a gift in the amount of $2,500,000, of which $2,000,000 is for an endowed assistant professorship in Brain Science and $500,000 is for the Brown Annual Fund;
  • From Mr. and Mrs. Shelby M.C. Davis, a grant of $2,127,970 for continued support of the Davis United World College Scholars Program at Brown University;
  • From anonymous Brown parents ’16 from the People’s Republic of China, a gift of $2,000,000 of which $1,400,000 is for the Greater China Fund Endowment; $500,000 of which is for an endowed scholarship for students from China; and $100,000 of which is for a current-use Brown Annual Fund scholarship for students from China;
  • From Rudy Kikel, a gift of $1,005,786 to purchase, preserve, or improve access to materials such as books, journals, and electronic resources in the field of gay and lesbian literature; to award prizes in creative writing with preference given to works of interest to the gay and lesbian community and to support undergraduate teaching and research awards;
  • From Gary Ginsberg ’84 and Susanna Aaron, a gift of $1,000,000, of which $750,000 is a gift in kind of artwork for the David Winton Bell Gallery, $150,000 will establish the Irwin E. Ginsberg P’84 Aging Research Fund, $50,000 for the School of Engineering’s Entrepreneurship Program, and $50,000 for the Brown Annual Fund.
  • In recognition of a gift from Benita M. “Bonnie” Cohen, P’82, P’85, P’89, GP’13, and Theodore P. Cohen ’58, P’82, P’85, P’89, GP’13, the Corporation approved a recommendation that a room in the lower level of the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center be named the Cohen Room, in honor of Theodore P. Cohen.

In other business, the Committee on Budget & Finance authorized the administration to proceed with a renovation of the John Hay Library, which will include code compliance and fire safety improvements as well as a refurbishment of the magnificent reading room on the first floor. Members of the Corporation also heard about progress on capital projects, including the Building for Environmental Research and Teaching, and discussed the strategic planning process underway with regard to the physical campus and growth and the work of the Committee on Reimagining the Brown Campus and Community. In the coming months we anticipate being able to make a number of strategic decisions and plans regarding the physical campus, including how best to accommodate the current and future growth of academic programs, including the School of Engineering.

Finally, upon recommendation from the Nominating Committee, and after a review and consultation process involving all members of the Trustees and Fellows, the Corporation voted to reappoint Chancellor Thomas Tisch ’76 and Vice Chancellor Jerome Vascellaro ’74 to third three-year terms in their respective offices, through June 30, 2016. The officers of the Corporation may serve up to three three-year terms in their positions.

Conclusion

Members of the Corporation expressed their appreciation and gratitude for all that faculty, staff and students do for Brown. We especially want to thank the members of the strategic planning committees who are devoting so much time and effort to these important issues this year. Finally, we extend our sincere gratitude to the staff in Facilities Management, Dining Services, Residential Life, Auxiliary Housing, Campus Life, Public Safety, Health Services, and elsewhere who did exceptional work under trying circumstances to keep our students safe and our campus running during this weekend’s blizzard. Thank you all very much.

Sincerely,

Christina H. Paxson

Further information about the Corporation is available online.