10-27-2013: Meeting of the Corporation of Brown University

October 27, 2013

Dear Members of the Brown Community,

I am pleased to write with news from the recently completed regular October meeting of the Corporation of Brown University. The Corporation engaged in discussion of the proposed strategic plan for Brown, accepted new gifts, and welcomed new members. The Corporation also continued an engaged discussion begun in May of a request advanced by Brown Divest Coal to divest endowment holdings from a set of coal companies that mine or use coal in the production of power. I have communicated to the campus the resolution of that matter under separate cover.

Building on Distinction: A New Plan for Brown

The Corporation approved Building on Distinction: A New Plan for Brown, which offers a strategic vision and broad goals to guide the University’s growth and progress over the next decade. Building on Distinction capitalizes on Brown’s core values of intellectual independence, creativity, collaboration and social purpose to reach new levels of academic excellence through integrative research and innovative education in service to the community, the nation and the world. The plan highlights the need to keep a Brown education affordable for talented students from all economic backgrounds, and to sustain a community with the diversity of thought and experience required for excellence.

The plan was developed over the course of nearly a year with the substantial and broad-based involvement of the Brown community. More than 70 faculty, students and staff members served on six committees that contributed to the plan; hundreds of others completed surveys or participated in forums and meetings that informed the process; and approximately 100 faculty members took part in developing “signature initiatives” that helped shape the final document. I am grateful to all who contributed time and wisdom to the planning process, including the input and feedback offered on the draft plan by many members of the community this semester.

In endorsing the strategic goals and initiatives identified in Building on Distinction: A New Plan for Brown, the Corporation recognized and affirmed the priorities set forth and committed to actively supporting those priorities in the coming decade. The Corporation called upon the administration to continue a rapid and disciplined planning and implementation effort, guided by the Plan, and upon the faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents and friends of the University to support the Plan with a similar level of commitment, enthusiasm, and optimism for Brown’s continued success and improvement.

The Plan is strategic and high-level by design, and specific initiatives and proposals developed as a consequence of the Plan will, as necessary, be brought forward through the established University and Corporation governance processes for consideration and action at the appropriate times. That being said, there are a number of initiatives which can immediately begin. These include:

  • The University’s undergraduate financial aid policy will be modified to recalculate need each year for aided international students.
  • The Dean of the Faculty will implement a new post-tenure sabbatical program for recently tenured associate professors.
  • We are developing an expanded program to support summer internships and UTRAs for undergraduates, and we will commit $500,000 to defray summer earnings expectations for aided students with non-paying or low-paying summer internships or other educationally valuable but poorly compensated summer activities.
  • The College will begin a new sophomore seminar program on topics of identity, equity and justice with the first courses offered in fall 2014.
  • This spring, we will launch a new Laboratory for Educational Innovation in the Sheridan Center that will be a home for the development of online teaching content and the evaluation of its effectiveness.
  • The inaugural TRI-Lab seminar, a program in engaged learning and service, is being piloted this year with a focus on healthy early childhood development.

A number of items in the plan require further study but are on track for early implementation:

  • The Provost has appointed a faculty committee to assess opportunities for growth in Masters programs.
  • As part of the Sustaining Life on Earth integrative theme, we have established a task force to identify new opportunities for community members to work to combat climate change.
  • We will finalize a proposal to present to the Academic Priorities Committee, the Faculty, and the Board of Fellows to launch a new institute for the study of environment and society.

Our goals are both ambitious and achievable. I look forward to your involvement and support in the coming months and years as we work to meet our greatest aspirations and ensure Brown is positioned to fulfill its mission of teaching, research and service at the highest levels for decades to come.

New Members of the Corporation

The Corporation welcomed two new Fellows: Richard A. Friedman ’79 P’08 and O. Rogeriee Thompson ’73; and ten new Trustees: José J. Estabil ’84 Sc.M.’88, Todd A. Fisher ’87 P’17, Robert P. Goodman ’82, Nancy Chick Hyde ’80 P’17 P’17, Paula M. McNamara ’84, Srihari S. Naidu ’93, MD’97, Ronald O. Perelman P’90, P’17, Joan Wernig Sorensen ’72, P’06 P’06, Alison D. Stewart ’88, and Diana E. Wells ’88. Brief biographical notes on the new Fellows and Trustees are available online.

Appointment of Faculty to Named Chairs 

The Corporation approved the appointment of the following faculty to named chairs:

  • Samuel Dudley, Ruth and Paul Levinger Professor of Cardiology, effective July 1, 2013;
  • Maureen Phipps, Chace-Joukowsky Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, effective September 1, 2013;
  • Jack Elias, Frank L. Day Professor of Biology, effective September 1, 2013;
  • John Tomasi, Romeo Elton Professor of Natural Theology, effective July 1, 2014;
  • Wilson Truccolo-Filho, Pablo J. Salame '88 Goldman Sachs Assistant Professor of Computational Neuroscience, effective September 1, 2013 through August 31, 2017.

 Establishment of Endowed Positions, Acceptance of Gifts, and Other Actions

The Corporation accepted with gratitude a number of gifts to the University totaling more than $53 million in support of the strategic plan and other priorities. These include:

  • From anonymous donors, a gift of $15,000,000 pending donor designation;
  • From an anonymous donor, a gift of $5,183,411 to the University's Donor-Advised Fund;
  • From anonymous donors, a gift of $5,000,000, of which $4,000,000 is to endow a chair in Engineering, Science, or Mathematics and $1,000,000 is to endow a research fund associated with the professorship;
  • From anonymous parents, a gift of $5,000,000, of which $3,000,000 is in support of undergraduate scholarships for students who are non-U.S. citizens, $1,250,000 in support of the Brown Annual Fund, $250,000 in support of Athletics, and $500,000 pending donor designation;
  • From Chancellor Emeritus Stephen Robert ’62, LHD’04 hon., P'91, a gift of $4,000,000 to establish an endowment to support a distinguished scholar associated with the Watson Institute for International Studies, with preference for an historian of the Middle East;
  • From an anonymous donor, a gift of $3,250,000, of which $250,000 has been designated to support the Brown Annual Fund and $3,000,000 to fund a chair in Modern India Studies;
  • From the estate of the late Grace Kennison Alpert ’51, a gift of $3,000,000 to fund a professorship at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for a faculty member in the clinical neurosciences;
  • From Victor and Elena Pinchuk P’14, a gift of $2,250,000, of which $2,000,000 is to endow fellowships for students from Ukraine studying for the Masters in Public Health (MPH) or other public health masters degrees, and $250,000 is to endow a flexible fund to support the Pinchuk Fellows, along with faculty research, travel, consultations, and collaborations related to public health and medical issues facing Ukraine;
  • From H. David Hibbitt Ph.D. '72, P’MAT '96 and Susan Buck Hibbitt '70, P’MAT '96, a gift of $2,250,000 to establish an endowment in support of graduate fellowships in the School of Engineering;
  • From anonymous parents, a gift of $2,000,000, of which $1,500,000 is pending donor designation and $500,000 is to support the Brown Annual Fund;
  • From Joseph Edelman and Pamela Keld ’83, a gift of $2,000,000 to establish an endowment supporting Brown women's athletics;
  • From anonymous donors, a gift of $1,250,000 to establish a flexible fund to support Brown's initiatives in engineering and entrepreneurship, to be allocated at the discretion of the President and the Dean of the School of Engineering;
  • From anonymous donors, a gift of $1,000,000 to establish the Brook Street Scholarship Fund to support undergraduate scholarships at the University, with a preference for students with the greatest financial need;
  • From William J. Zisson '63, P'91; Nancy Steinhaus Zisson '65, P'91; and the Zisson Foundation, Inc., a gift of $1,000,000 to establish two endowments within the Department of Athletics: The Zisson Family Assistant Coaching Chair for Men's Soccer and The Zisson Family Travel Fund for Men's Soccer;
  • From Benjamin K. Lee P’16, a gift of $1,000,000 to establish the Madam Lee Woo Shui Fun Scholarship to support undergraduate students from Hong Kong with preference for graduates of St. Paul’s College, Hong Kong;
  • From Matthew I. Sirovich '87 and Meredith A. Elson '91, a gift to provide current-use support for the School of Public Health and an additional gift to establish the Carole and Lawrence Sirovich Professorship for Public Health.

The Corporation also approved the establishment of The Joan Wernig Sorensen Professorship in Engineering and The Mahatma Gandhi Professorship in Modern India Studies, effective immediately, sufficient funds having been received for both. In recognition of a $3,000,000 gift from an anonymous donor, the naming of the reading room of the John Hay Library as The Willis Reading Room was approved. The Board of Fellows approved the recommendation of the faculty to establish a Ph.D. Program in Behavioral and Social Sciences.

On Friday evening members of the Corporation joined in a wonderful celebration of the launching of the new School of Public Health, and thanked and congratulated Dean Fox Wetle and her faculty, student and staff colleagues for their hard work in establishing the School. The Corporation also endorsed a resolution of appreciation for Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron for her service to Brown and wished her great success as President of Connecticut College. Finally, Chancellor Thomas Tisch presented the Elwood E. Leonard, Jr. ’51 Distinguished Achievement Award to Trustee Andrea Terzi Baum ’83 P’15 and Fellow Samuel M. Mencoff ’78 P’11 P’15 for their record-breaking leadership of the Brown Annual Fund over the past three years.

Conclusion

This weekend’s meetings conclude an important phase in Brown’s continued development, and mark a transition from planning to implementation. As we look forward to next year’s celebration of the 250th anniversary of the University’s founding, we have an opportunity to reflect upon and honor the deepest traditions of this institution and to imagine all that we can achieve for current and future generations of students and scholars. I am delighted to be at this point, and to be able to work with all faculty, students and staff to realize our collective ambitions for this great University.

Sincerely,

Christina H. Paxson