March 7, 2013
Dear Friends and Members of the Brown Community,
Two hundred and forty-nine years ago this month, the “General Assembly of the Governor and Company of the English Colony of Rhode Island” began consideration of a charter that would establish what is now called Brown University. Brown’s founding required a leap of imagination—that a group of Baptists could create a thriving college grounded in the ideals of intellectual and religious freedom. But even the founders could not have imagined how the college, located on a patch of land in the town of Warren before its move to a hilltop overlooking Providence, would eventually be transformed into the major international university that Brown is today. Since the time of its founding, Brown and Rhode Island continue a productive relationship, forged in the values of liberty of conscience and independent thought, which predates the American Republic.
The 250th anniversary of Brown’s founding, our semiquincentenary, is now one year away. This anniversary will give us the opportunity to celebrate Brown’s many triumphs in education, research and service, reflect on the complex and challenging issues that Brown has confronted over time, and imagine Brown’s future in the 21st century and beyond. I am writing to tell you about the planning that is underway and invite you to become involved as we prepare to mark this significant milestone.
A broad-based steering committee, ably chaired by Wendy Strothman ’72, LHD’08 hon., P’07, Ralph Rosenberg ’86, P’17, and Russell Carey ’91, AM’06, is overseeing our plans. The celebration will include two anchor events held on campus. On March 7-8, 2014, we will celebrate the signing of the charter through a University-wide “open house” that will include forums, performances, exhibitions, and special programs. The celebration will continue during Alumni Weekend on September 27-28, 2014. Commencement/Reunions in 2014 and 2015 will also include special events to mark the anniversary. In addition, we anticipate that there will be 250th events in the many cities where our alumni live, and a robust social media effort that will connect Brunonians around the globe to the celebration and to each other.
Although the committee has developed a framework for our plans, we will look to the extended Brown community to contribute to the tapestry of events, activities, projects, and publications that will define the overall anniversary. I invite you to offer ideas and proposals to explore Brown’s history and consider its future. Please visit the 250th Anniversary site to learn about the planning process to date; take note of early known dates to mark on your calendars; complete the survey that’s there; and contribute your ideas. The website will become much more robust as plans for the 250th are developed, so I hope you will bookmark it and check it throughout the coming year.
I look forward to the weeks and months ahead as we collaborate to shape a thoughtful, reflective and celebratory commemoration.
Christina H. Paxson