The Plan for Academic Enrichment - Phase II
(Link to PDF file)
For more than five years, the Plan for Academic Enrichment has guided Brown’s efforts to provide excellent undergraduate, graduate and medical education and to position the University for continued success. We have made significant progress toward the goals outlined in the Plan, including increasing the size of the faculty; providing essential resources to advance scholarship, research and teaching; establishing need-blind admission and strengthening financial aid; and investing in the campus infrastructure. The momentum and accomplishments achieved during this time have been due to the involvement of many faculty, students, staff, and alumni volunteers.
As in the past, our progress going forward will require that the Plan remain relevant in an ever-changing environment. That relevance demands ongoing evaluation of our goals, priorities and underlying assumptions in the face of the broader context in which higher education operates. Reflecting this need, the University launched an extensive review of the Plan for Academic Enrichment in the spring of 2007, engaging faculty, students, staff and alumni in the process. Members of the Brown community were asked to assess the impact of the Plan and to offer recommendations to improve on the University’s goals in the next five to ten years.
The amount and quality of input was meaningful and, together with the work of the Task Force on Undergraduate Education and the Working Group on Graduate Education, helped to shape recommendations for the Corporation to consider at its February 2008 meetings. The following report--The Plan for Academic Enrichment Phase II-- contains the results of the review process and the recommended areas of emphasis that emerged: continued enhancement of undergraduate education; internationalizing the University; and further improvement of academic departments and programs. The Corporation endorsement of these recommendations now integrates them into the University’s planning.
The importance of these efforts has become more apparent than anticipated in the context of current economic uncertainties. With rising costs of utilities, health care and construction, pressure to expand financial aid for students from low and middle income families, and the potential impact of the economy on endowment performance and the Campaign, the Plan review positions Brown to navigate this challenging period with a clear sense of our priorities and goals.
A complete status report on the Phase II initiatives, along with an update on the progress made towards the goals and objectives in the original Plan, will be published in fall 2008, resuming the twice-a-year schedule we have been following for these reports. Until then, please take a moment to review the objectives outlined in the pages that follow and share your ideas and feedback so that we can continue to ensure Brown’s success now, and for generations to come.
Ruth J. Simmons
Richard R. Spies
Executive Vice President for Planning and Senior Advisor to the President
Table of Contents
President's Perspective - Brown University, 2008: Looking Back, Understanding the Present, Claiming the Future
Universities should value a critical perspective above all else. A commitment to examine all assumptions, to improve time-tested methods, and to expand knowledge even when to do so alters perceptions of the most treasured values is the foundation of excellence in university life. The long life of universities across cultures and economies, across fashions and preferences, and across time and geographies attests to the fact that inviting robust critique and committing to heed its insights infuses these institutions with superior quality, vitality, relevance and, ultimately, longevity. This approach assures not only strong academic programs that serve students of each generation well, but also meaningful governance of institutions that are vital to an orderly and compassionate civil society. Notwithstanding constant pressures from interest groups and policy makers to abandon the academic freedom and institutional independence upon which a university depends for the creation and dissemination of knowledge, use of the independent perspective to examine all sustains universities. The review of the Plan for Academic Enrichment draws upon this very perspective.
Forty years ago, these values led a group of faculty and students, aroused by the need to test traditional assumptions of how liberal education should be organized, to follow the example of Brown alumni like Horace Mann in the search for improvement in education. In considering how education might more meaningfully engage the learner, drawing the student into a deeper commitment to the very endeavor of learning, they advanced a radical thought: that if students were responsible for assembling their courses of study, creating their own unique opportunities in learning, and being called to the deeper meaning of learning, the whole of the university would become enlivened and enriched. This simple idea had the great benefit of underscoring the essential value of liberal learning, an ideal that is too often equated with sampling a number of prescribed subjects. These innovators embraced the critical perspective and the open curriculum was born.
Learning is a process that arises and advances in often unpredictable ways. Even starting from what we presume to be the same point, students will not apprehend knowledge in the same way, at the same speed, in the same sequence, or to the same degree. What Brown students proposed in 1969 was an opportunity and a calling to be more than mere recipients of curricula created by others in their interest, but to be active in shaping the experience of learning. This opportunity added a dimension to the college experience that, in many ways, revived the beneficial connection of the learner to the process of learning. Their effort affirmed that each student’s path is unique and suggested that, under the right circumstances (past achievement, excellent motivation, and superior instruction), the college years could more effectively satisfy the ideal of liberal learning.
Now almost forty years old, this experiment has endured, empowering generations of alumni who, decades later, express a high level of satisfaction with their college years. While many have tried over this period to explain why this educational model does or does not work, few can deny that it has produced some of the most extraordinary leaders of the past decades. The open curriculum generations have enabled space exploration, advanced the computer age, excelled in the creative and performing arts, shaped public policy, developed cures and healed the sick, created and led businesses, and made extraordinary breakthroughs in scholarship and research.
The Task Force on Undergraduate Education, exhibiting the same critical perspective that has made Brown a leader in higher education for almost a quarter of a millennium, turned its attention to what we must do to ensure the continued success of this extraordinary innovation. Citing the “independent and integrative learning valued by the founders of the open curriculum,” they have advanced a number of suggestions for how the curriculum can remain as vital and effective in the future as it was conceived to be at its founding. But, in a larger sense, the report of the Task Force does much more. Its recommendations are not only the center piece of the review of the Plan for Academic Enrichment, but they act as a guide to work underway across the whole of the University. The open curriculum debate advanced an idea so powerful that, decades later, it remains sharp, relevant, and empowering to learners. This innovative approach enabled Brown to carve out a distinctive path, one that attracted outstanding faculty and students in an educational experiment that tested the conventional notion of excellence in liberal learning and redefined the University’s identity. The opportunity for new insights and bold action is available to us today if we are again willing to test the boundaries of disciplines, the conventions of scholarship, and the assumptions of prevailing educational models.
In many ways, the Plan for Academic Enrichment set the stage for a new level of boldness. At the inception of the Plan, we said often that one of its most important goals was to address areas of immediate need: faculty salaries, libraries and information technology, need blind admission, Graduate School support, faculty-student ratios, critical mass in fields of excellence, expansion of promising areas, quality of facilities, improvement of the student and community life environment, space shortage, and research support. With more than $1 billion committed to these areas over the past five years, the University can begin to turn its attention to the kinds of efforts that will significantly improve the advantage that those investments now give us. With a Medical School and Public Health Program evolving to new levels of visibility, how can we position them to follow the lead of the innovators of the 60’s? With a Graduate School poised to grow, how can our students excel as leaders in the more integrative approaches that are predicted to predominate in coming scholarly eras? What advantage might the open curriculum and innovation across all areas give us as we become more global?
Across the campus and around the world, we have reached out to our constituents in this review, inviting criticism and suggestions as to the path created by the Plan for Academic Enrichment. Participation has been broad; commentary and debate have been spirited. The summary that follows posits that, based on that debate and the input of faculty, students, alumni, staff and Corporation members, we can confidently recommend a number of overriding objectives. Those objectives encompass hundreds of specific recommendations, some of which offer conflicting perspectives. They also encompass many requests for additional resources, the totality of which would exceed the capacity of even the best endowed university. It is important, nevertheless, to have access to all of this information and to give it full consideration as we plan the tactical approach to the objectives spelled out in the report. Not all requests can be met, but all requests should be considered. The work of the University committees in determining which of these should have priority and over what span of time is at the heart of the shared governance that we work so hard to achieve. The next phase of the work must be quick and decisive if we are to take advantage of momentum gained from the earliest phase of the Plan.
What might we take from the many perspectives that have contributed to the objectives spelled out in the review of the Plan? Apart from specific opportunities at the departmental and program level, we might focus on several highlights from this process -ones that might help to organize our broad efforts across the University in the coming years. One might begin with categories that have emerged as the most urgent. They are ones that, left unattended, might damage the University’s prospects for decades to come, but if addressed, could dramatically improve those prospects. They should helpfully point us forward in a continuing and steady process of improvement.
THE UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM
The Task Force on Undergraduate Education reaffirms the value of the experiment in undergraduate education begun 40 years ago. Pointing to its importance and vitality and drawing on the vigorous debate which the work of the Task Force inspired, the Report summons us to reaffirm our commitment to this educational approach, while improving its effectiveness, force and opportunities. Of signal importance in an open curriculum environment is improving and diversifying the advising resources available to learners. These resources, when implemented, will enable Brown students to have access to faculty fellows, additional peer advisers and residence-based mentoring as complements to the faculty and peer advising already in place. The Task Force would also have us improve undergraduate education by increasing attention to a number of other areas such as teaching effectiveness, curriculum and pedagogic innovation, and the extra-curriculum. Taken together, their recommendations for improvements would provide an essential wide-scale infusion of support to undergraduate education. These improvements must be made quickly if we are to preserve what many consider the greatest asset of the University.
The experiment begun 40 years ago with an open curriculum is acknowledged by most in the Brown community to have been a singular achievement in the history of the University. The success of 35 cohorts of graduates proves that the open curriculum had much to offer those who have come to Brown in these years. Every year, it continues to attract some of the most talented and engaged youth from around the world. To serve them well, we should continue to examine this approach, invest in needed improvements, and intelligently preserve what has unarguably been one of the most defining elements of excellence at Brown.
After we began this review, the public policy debate around college costs intensified and leaders in Congress took action to challenge the approach universities use in setting their endowment payout. In particular, they have called on universities to spend a greater portion of their endowment revenue, allocating a substantial share to reduce tuition and increase financial aid to lower and middle income families. This has led to dramatic increases in financial aid among the universities with which Brown competes most closely, many of which are in the Ivy League. The need to address the prospect of a major competitive disadvantage in financial aid has unexpectedly reshaped our consideration of near-term investments. We do not believe that we must follow precisely what other universities have announced in regard to their financial aid budgets, but financial aid remains an urgent need and the goal that is most closely aligned with our aim of attracting the best students to Brown. In order to continue to do that, Brown must invest even more resources in financial aid, with particular attention to reducing the loan burden of our students.
It is not our intent to eliminate loans across all groups. Those who receive the benefit of a privileged education in which extraordinary resources and unique benefits are provided will enjoy great privileges relative to others in society. Often, they enjoy superior earning power. We believe it is appropriate for students to invest in their own education and that such a commitment is fully in keeping with Brown’s admonition of students’ shared responsibility for their education. Modest and affordable levels of self-help and parental contribution are entirely in keeping with that philosophy. At the same time, such financial participation should never be so onerous that it serves as a deterrent either to selecting Brown or selecting careers in public service.
In accordance with the University’s aims, financial aid should be aligned both with the economic means of the student and the opportunity of all students to freely choose a lifetime pursuit. To ensure this freedom of choice for lower and middle income students, we must rededicate ourselves to significantly increasing our scholarship and fellowship funds. The campaign goal for scholarship endowment should be doubled if we are to remain competitive for the best students, irrespective of their family income.
We have made significant progress in elevating the level of support needed to attract and retain outstanding scholars. Improved salaries and leaves, expanded and improved facilities, new buildings and laboratories, increased research support and other such measures will have to continue on a steep trajectory given the intense competition for faculty. As we near our goal of 100 net new faculty added to the base, our recent experience has revealed that even this number, though it represents an increase of nearly 20% over the faculty size in 2001, is just the beginning of the effort to bring the faculty size up to a competitive level. Brown continues to trail most of its peers in the faculty-student ratio and in the overall investments in faculty resources.
In order to make more rapid progress in addressing the staffing needs of departments and programs, we need to continue our increases to the faculty over the coming decade. This calls for a continued emphasis on and acceleration of endowing faculty positions.
One of the most consistent concerns expressed in the review of the Plan is the pressure faculty feel for an expansion of the number of graduate students and improved funding for them. They say what we already know -- that faculty excellence depends on a variety of forms of support: research funding, library support, renewed facilities, equipment, grant support, postdoctoral fellows and, perhaps most important, superior graduate students. Without the requisite number of high quality graduate students, many faculty are unable to complete their research in a timely and effective way. Moreover, understanding this, faculty will neither come to nor remain at Brown if too few graduate students are admitted to achieve excellence in their field. Excellence in graduate education is also a prerequisite for achieving our goals to be an institution of international distinction and contributes directly to the quality of undergraduate education offered. Testimony from both junior and senior faculty, from both new and continuing faculty emphasize these points.
In order to continue to attract excellent faculty, to advance high and productive levels of research, to ensure departments of national and international distinction, and to fulfill our mission in training the academic leaders of the future, we must continue to enhance the quality of graduate education and expand the number of graduate students. That expansion can only occur with a significant commitment to increasing support for financial aid for additional graduate students through fundraising, increased research support and other measures.
Participants uniformly agree that continued strategic investments in facilities are essential to the core aims of the Plan. In addition to those facilities already identified in the Plan and the Campaign, classrooms, residence halls and research facilities are in need of attention. There is general agreement that deferrals or delays of the major projects in the capital plan would deter the progress of the Plan and truncate the promise of much scholarship that is underway.
Well beyond the period encompassed by the Plan, the University will need to invest heavily in facilities improvements. The need for a dedicated fundraising and financial plan that provides a realistic outlook for funding these needs is an important next step and a needed complement to the near-term capital plan and the Campaign for Academic Enrichment.
U.S. higher education is entering a new era. Competition for students and knowledge production is expanding globally with the creation of both regional and national efforts based on best practices traditionally associated with U.S. dominance of research and knowledge production. U.S. universities are responding to this new environment by stepping up the development of partnerships with universities around the world. As they do so while increasing the admission of international students, they are aggressively seeking ways in which they can remain at the forefront of higher education, even as competition widens to include major new institutions around the world. Open source material, collaboration across institutions, and strategic global admissions are all designed to maintain relevance and world preeminence in the coming decades.
The creation of the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs provides the opportunity to create a bold vision for Brown’s role in international higher education. That vision should be developed in a way that makes use of and supports many longstanding and ongoing efforts at the departmental level. Brown’s identity as an international university is an urgent issue, one that will make the difference in assuring excellence for Brown for many decades to come.
The review of the Plan has been an extraordinary effort. The original Plan, coming in some ways before many who are now at Brown had an opportunity to participate, had reached a point where the examination of its assumptions and modalities was important. That examination, having proved invaluable, may in fact prove to be the most valuable element of a long process to assure Brown’s ongoing pre-eminence. To a significant degree, the original assumptions of the Plan have been ratified. Participants in the process may have indicated that the emphasis or order of priority missed the mark in some cases. However, the debate that has ensued over adjustments to be made -- as well as the capacity of the University to carry out this examination in full view of all constituents -- is an important achievement, promising greater transparency and improved governance.
What has the process taught us? What does it suggest for the next several years?
First, it makes plain that the investments we have made to date must be seen as the initial element of a decades-long striving to improve programs and performance across multiple areas of the University. Many argue that the key to success will be in our focusing on the fewest number of areas. Given the circuitous path by which knowledge often advances, it is not always possible to predetermine which areas will flourish and which will fail. Guideposts and boundaries often shift as additional knowledge comes to light. The ability of the University to alter directions and respond to new opportunities and demands will remain important no matter what near term strategy we put into place. For the present time, we should:
- take what we have learned and make needed adjustments;
- persuade our supporters of the urgency of the case for increased levels of support in the areas noted above;
- seek to understand the lesson of the open curriculum and the advantage that it presents as higher education grows more competitive;
- prepare for the major changes in direction in higher education by sharpening our governance and committing to on-going assessment of our programs;
- endorse the global emphasis as a necessary direction; and
- recognize that the world of competitive higher education is dynamic and that the flexibility afforded by unrestricted support will enable Brown to adapt to changes that emerge over the coming years.
The report on the review of the Plan for Academic Enrichment that follows is presented to the Corporation in the fullness of the feedback we received across the campus and beyond. We have been careful to preserve original comments for your perusal, and we encourage all members to take the time to review this trove of commentary and criticism.
It is our responsibility to digest these inputs and now offer recommendations that, unlike individual comments, reflect the totality of the opportunities presented to the University. It is our hope that University governance bodies, having reviewed this information, will now take up the question of how available resources can best be deployed to advance the education we offer our students, the outstanding work of the faculty, and the reputation of the University.
Ruth J. Simmons
back to the top
THE PLAN FOR ACADEMIC ENRICHMENT: PHASE II
The Mission of Brown University is “to serve the community, the nation, and the world by discovering, communicating, and preserving knowledge and understanding in a spirit of free inquiry, and by educating and preparing students to discharge the offices of life with usefulness and reputation” (from the University Mission Statement). In order to position the University to fulfill this mission even more successfully in the coming years, the Corporation initiated a comprehensive planning process in the fall of 2001 that led to the adoption of the Academic Enrichment Initiatives in February 2002 and the Plan for Academic Enrichment (PAE) in February 2004. The first concrete steps to implement the Plan were taken in the fall of 2002 when the University began to increase the size of the faculty, adopted need-blind admission for undergraduate students, significantly increased support for graduate students, and began a process of enhancing and expanding the support structure for students and faculty.
Much has happened at Brown over the last 6 years as a result of the Plan and the hard work of many people to interpret and implement the Plan. The faculty is larger by 20%; there are more courses being offered and, in particular, more small courses, and other educational opportunities have been introduced or expanded for undergraduate, graduate, and medical students; new multidisciplinary programs have been created and others significantly strengthened; strategic partnerships have been developed and integrated into the Brown curriculum and into research programs across the University; the intellectual and cultural richness of the community has been enhanced by bringing more scholars and students from ever more diverse backgrounds and perspectives; our competitive position with respect to faculty and staff compensation has been strengthened; and major investments have been made in financial aid programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
During this time, Boldly Brown: the Campaign for Academic Enrichment was conceived, planned, and launched, and more than $1 billion has been raised to support the goals of the Plan. Even the physical campus provides testimony to the effects of the Plan. Consistent with a University master plan developed during 2002-03, Brown now has major academic programs that are thriving “off College Hill” in the Jewelry District and on South Main Street. Closer to the heart of campus, a new walkway is emerging that will connect the Pembroke campus with Lincoln Field and provide the setting for new buildings housing the creative arts and several departments and programs associated with the study of the human brain. The literally hundreds of decisions that lie behind these changes have been driven by the overall goals and objectives of the Plan and, taken together, have clearly produced significant change and improvement at Brown.
In the spring of 2007, slightly more than five years into this process, the Corporation and the President asked the community to reflect on and assess the effectiveness of the Plan to date and, more importantly, to suggest whether there are new goals or directions that should be undertaken in the future in order to ensure that the University is able to fulfill its mission at the highest levels. The University community has, over the last several months, responded to this challenge and engaged in a broadly inclusive and critical assessment of the Plan through a wide-ranging discussion about the University’s strengths and weaknesses. The recommendations contained in this report have emerged from this input.
back to the top
In important ways, we have been reevaluating and redirecting the Plan continuously since its inception. Nevertheless, this is the first time that the University and alumni community has been invited to participate formally in a comprehensive review process. This work began in May 2007, when the President called on members of her cabinet and other administrators and faculty leaders responsible for specific features of the Plan for Academic Enrichment to review its goals and strategies and suggest any revisions and enhancements they felt appropriate. As part of that review, participants were asked to identify areas where they thought we had accomplished our goals and others areas where we had, for one reason or another, fallen short. In addition, they were invited to examine the appropriateness of the goals themselves, given the changes that have occurred over the last five years, both at Brown and in the broader national and international context.
Many of the recommendations that were developed as part of that process were discussed by the cabinet at a retreat led by the President in August 2007. Joined by Chancellor Tom Tisch and Vice Chancellor Jerome Vascellaro, cabinet members focused on major areas of strategic importance that had not received significant attention in the earlier versions of the Plan but which had emerged subsequently as critical initiatives. In this last category, for example David Kennedy (the then-incoming Vice President for International Affairs) led a discussion of possible initiatives to strengthen Brown’s role as a global university.
That meeting was followed by a much broader, University-wide discussion that took place throughout the fall semester, involving faculty, students, staff, alumni, and other friends of the University. The President and others made a number of presentations to describe the current state of the Plan and invited comments, suggestions, and criticism from interested groups and individuals. In total, there were approximately 20 meetings of organized groups on this subject, including several that were open to all interested parties. A list of those meetings is included as Appendix A of this report.
In addition to the presentations and discussions with formal committees, councils, departments, and representative bodies, members of the community were invited to review the Plan and the most recent status reports posted on the PAE web site and to share comments and feedback, either directly or through an email account established for this purpose. Approximately 25 individuals sent comments directly to the web site e-mail address or to various administrators who were charged with collecting such input.
The review process was structured to focus primarily on qualitative measures of the Plan for Academic Enrichment: do faculty and students feel that they are better able to do their work today than they – or their counterparts – were before the Plan was developed? Are alumni, parents, and other friends of the University more engaged and more excited about what is happening at Brown and about our aspirations for the future? Are most members of the University community more confident about Brown’s ability to compete in the future than they were before the advent of the Plan? In what ways has the Plan added value and accelerated Brown’s momentum, and in what different and/or additional ways should we seek to do that in the future? In following the Plan, is Brown sustaining its tradition of academic excellence, adhering to its core values, and extending its mission to meet the challenges of an increasingly competitive environment?
In asking these questions, we have challenged the community to look beyond the day-to-day measures of progress – faculty added, financial aid awarded, honors won, grants awarded, etc. – to evaluate the overall progress of the institution as a whole and focus on academic excellence as the most important goal and the most important measure of progress. Although quantitative measures are essential to monitor progress and gauge success, it has been important to step back and look at the larger picture in a comprehensive and inclusive way. The degree to which the excellent faculty and students who are already at Brown and those we are trying to attract here believe that Brown is one of the handful of universities at which they – and others – can do their best work is one very important measure of the success of the Plan.
back to the top
These deliberations have confirmed that there is much work remaining to achieve our overarching goals, but they have also reaffirmed the basic directions established by the Plan. As a community, we remain committed to the principles that have guided the Plan for Academic Enrichment from its inception. To an overwhelming extent, the comments and suggestions received throughout this process began with an expression of support for the basic principles and strategies that have been at the center of the Plan for Academic Enrichment from its inception in 2001-02. As summarized in the report on the Plan for Academic Enrichment that was adopted by the Corporation in February 2004, those principles and strategies are “rooted in [Brown’s] enduring strength as an academic leader…..[T]he University’s specific advantages, by which it enhances all of higher education, are in its unique approaches to undergraduate and graduate education and scholarship:
- “Brown’s self-definition as a university-college must be a continuing feature of all plans to improve Brown. It is that context that must guide decisions about the relative size of the different student groups, the priorities of planning, and the allocation of resources.
- “The empowerment of learners wherein they are partners and primary architects of their intellectual itineraries in a research-rich context differentiates Brown from every other leading university. This distinction must be maintained, protected, and enhanced.
- “The adaptive, flexible, permeable way in which scholars collaborate at Brown is a defining feature of its academic culture. That feature, too, must remain and be enhanced.
- “The unusual independence of students at Brown in the living environment and the empowerment of the students in the learning environment are mutually reinforcing, adding a dimension of personal growth and satisfaction that makes Brown one of the most popular college destinations. That culture must be supported.
- “The opportunities for graduate and medical students to participate more fully in the broad scholarly and learning community are exceptionally promising. We must fulfill that promise, extending the collaborative model and shared experience of Brown to these important groups.
- “Brown’s culture is based on widespread engagement among its varied constituencies. We must build on effective, satisfying, and participatory governance for all members of the Brown community, including alumni.” (The Plan for Academic Enrichment, February 2004, page 4.)
In addition, these discussions have confirmed the basic values and core mission of Brown: the importance of teaching and the integration of undergraduate, graduate, and medical students with faculty into a single learning community; the importance of community and bringing together students, faculty, and others in a learning environment in which the roles of teachers and learners blend easily and frequently into a shared role of scholars seeking to advance the frontiers of knowledge through research and improve the world around them through service; and the importance of leadership, risk-taking, and boldness, both with respect to the campus community and in the world beyond. At our best, the special role that Brown plays in higher education is to bring students and faculty together in the pursuit of knowledge, through programs of teaching and research and scholarship that are at the cutting edge of thinking across the disciplines and models for universities around the world.
Reflecting that high level of consensus about the nature and aspirations of Brown as a university and as an academic community, most of the comments also reaffirmed the basic strategies and initiatives that were laid out in the Plan. Not surprisingly, some people suggested adjustments in the specific priorities and attached different levels of importance to particular initiatives, but there was widespread consensus that the basic approach recommended by the Plan for Academic Enrichment was appropriate: namely, increasing the size of the faculty; improving faculty salaries, start-up funds, and other forms of support in order to continue to attract the most outstanding teacher-scholars to Brown and retain those who are already here; improving financial support for students at all levels; launching specific academic initiatives and partnerships that build on Brown’s special strengths; and providing the tools and other support for students and faculty to do their work at the highest level.
back to the top
Recommendations for New or Enhanced Areas of Emphasis
Brown ranks among the world’s preeminent universities and attracts outstanding undergraduate, graduate, and medical students, faculty, and staff. Moreover, by many measures, Brown is stronger now than it has ever been. At the same time, the small number of universities with which we compete for the best faculty and students are also working hard to improve and to compete more effectively. As we plan for the future, therefore, we must focus on the steps that should be taken now to ensure Brown’s continued success and pre-eminence 10 or 15 years from now. What will Brown need to provide in 2020 in order to attract outstanding students and provide them with the very best education possible? What will ensure that Brown is able to engage in world renowned research and help define new areas of knowledge? These are the underlying questions that were asked five years ago and that we should continue to ask today.
Based on all the input received and the many conversations held over the last six months, we make the following recommendations:
1. Continue to strengthen undergraduate education.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE 1
Develop a more robust and integrated academic advising program for Brown undergraduates, through all four years and across all disciplines and concentrations.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE 2
Support the teaching mission of the faculty by providing increased resources for curricular development and collaborative pedagogy, including resources for multidisciplinary concentrations and innovative training in the sciences.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE 3
Significantly increase the opportunities for creative, independent, and global learning experiences for students by augmenting undergraduate teaching and research awards (UTRAs) and internships.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE 4
Significantly increase the opportunities for students to interact with faculty outside the classroom through programs in the residence and dining halls and in other areas of the campus to promote a shared sense of community and further Brown’s educational mission.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE 5
Improve support for extracurricular and co-curricular programs and activities and strengthen the connections between those programs and the academic lives of students. Improve facilities and program support for athletics and physical education, student performances, and other student activities to enhance the experience of students involved in those activities and the greater Brown community.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE 6
Increase the amount of regular rehabilitation and redesign of the residence halls, with the goal of maintaining a consistent cycle of major renewal. Create more and better community spaces within the residence halls for formal and informal academic programs, social gatherings, collaborative study, and recreation and provide better support for the effective educational use of those spaces.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE 7
Adopt the goal of increasing the percentage of undergraduate students living on campus from roughly 80% to 90% as soon as financing allows.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE 8
Improve financial aid packages significantly to reduce the burden on students and their families from loans and other components of the expected student and family contributions. Continue to make improvements as needed to remain competitive with peer institutions and to assure that the best students will be able to attend Brown without regard to their families’ economic circumstances.
Undergraduate education is—and will remain—a special strength of Brown as a university. That has been a core principle in the Plan for Academic Enrichment for the last six years and was reaffirmed throughout this review. Significant progress has been made through the addition of new faculty, more courses (including a highly successful new program of first-year seminars), increased research opportunities, and new multidisciplinary initiatives. It is, however, an area where the goals and objectives established in the Plan have not been fully realized. For example, many questions remain about the adequacy of our advising structure and the level of support for some popular concentrations. Moreover, the context for higher education is changing: knowledge is far more diffuse, disciplinary boundaries have, in many cases, become blurred or even been erased, and students are looking forward to lives and careers in a more complex and global world. In this context, we must ensure that the values and opportunities opened up for students by Brown’s distinctive curriculum and academic ethos are sustained and enhanced for future generations of students. We must expand opportunities for students to deepen their roots – in place, in discipline, in values, in knowledge – while expanding the breadth of their exposure to the world.
Responding to those challenges, Provost David Kertzer and Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron established a task force on undergraduate education in the spring of 2007. That task force, comprising four students, seven faculty members, and three deans, met nearly 30 times between April and December to think broadly and critically about the past, present, and future of the College. Their guiding questions were: what is Brown’s educational mission and how can we ensure its continued success? The task force approached these questions from four broad vantage points: liberal education in general, education in the concentrations, the assessment of teaching and learning, and the role of advising.
The report of the task force, released in late January, confirmed a deeply felt desire on the part of the community to sustain and strengthen the unique culture of learning that has made Brown a leader in higher education. Students again and again expressed to the task force a desire to see larger numbers of faculty supporting their intellectual pursuits beyond the classroom. Faculty, in turn, expressed a desire to see increased University support for engaging in such work. A number of the task force recommendations speak to these twin concerns, calling for more independent, creative, and global learning experiences for undergraduates, and also for increased resources to support the overall teaching and advising mission of the faculty. A truly vibrant college experience, however, requires more than just resources. It demands serious, critical reflection on the part of both teachers and learners. And so other recommendations in the report highlight the importance of engaging faculty and students in regular self-examination of their work. In this spirit, for example, the task force called for a general review of all concentrations at Brown, to determine how these varied disciplinary and interdisciplinary paths actually help students fulfill the basic goals of a liberal education. Along those same lines, the task force also recommended that all Brown students engage in regular scrutiny of their own educational goals and a critical assessment of their progress.
Planning and assessment, of course, benefit from dialogue in addition to self-reflection. The last and, in some ways, most anticipated recommendation of the task force addresses the larger question of advising and mentoring in the context of the open curriculum. Brown’s curriculum depends on a richer system of advising than traditional models of education. A culture based on so much flexibility and choice needs enhanced tools for making informed choices. The most ambitious set of recommendations in the task force report, therefore, is a more robust plan for advising at Brown, one that would meet the needs of a larger number of students through all four years and across all of the disciplines.
In addition to the recommendations that are being considered by the task force on undergraduate education, a second group of faculty, students, and deans, the committee on the residential experience, has been examining how experiences outside the classroom contribute to the broader education of our students. One of the strengths of Brown as a university is the residential nature of our community and the rich opportunities this provides students for learning in and out of the classroom. Yet there is a clear sense that we could do much more to capitalize on this richness and to make it more accessible and more valuable for all students. More often than we would like, students express difficulty in connecting with faculty outside of the classroom. This, in turn, contributes to the shortcomings many students experience with academic advising. Likewise, the fact that some Brown students perceive difficulty identifying faculty to write letters of recommendation for work or graduate study is an issue that should be addressed.
As part of its work, the committee has also been looking at both the quality and quantity of student life facilities at Brown and the way in which we use those facilities to advance our educational mission. The current situation is characterized both by the fact that there is too little high-quality common space for informal interaction and by the lack of a broad-based organizational structure for encouraging and supporting faculty-student engagement. As a result, it is difficult for students to have a satisfactory residential experience. It is important, therefore, to improve the quality of our residence halls by embarking on a more aggressive program of renewal, including establishing, or reestablishing, common spaces for group interaction in the residence halls. Our recommendations also reflect the fact that the committee is expected to conclude that Brown should construct additional housing units sufficient to house up to 90% of our undergraduate students on campus, as compared to the approximately 80% we house today. New undergraduate housing can enhance community building and the educational benefits of a residential community by creating new links between the educational and residential lives of our students. Such housing should be designed to be attractive to juniors and seniors, providing apartments and suites with sufficient opportunities for independent living and shared community. Brown has invested significantly in residential and student life facilities over the years – almost $100 million over the last 5 years alone – but much more needs to be done to meet our goals.
As an important complement to the proposed investments in facilities and to take advantage of the opportunities that will be created by those investments, the committee is also planning to recommend specific initiatives to expand and improve the opportunities for faculty and students to engage with each other on issues of intellectual import outside of formal academic structures. With appropriate support and encouragement, athletics, physical education and recreation, and other extracurricular and co-curricular activities can add richness to the lives of students and complement and reinforce their academic experiences. Integrating those activities into the broader life of the community is a major challenge for all universities, but the potential here at Brown to contribute significantly to the educational process for large numbers of students is great. Recommendations about exactly where and how to enhance the level and quality of support for those extracurricular and co-curricular activities and how to strengthen the connections between those activities and the academic experiences of students have been developed by, among others, the Office of Campus Life and the Advisory Councils on Athletics and Campus Life.
Finally, one of the most significant achievements of the Plan to date has been the substantial improvement in undergraduate financial aid at Brown. Since 2001-02 we have adopted need-blind admission for domestic students, eliminated the work expectation for first-year students and loans for the students with the greatest need (through the Sidney Frank Scholars program), and increased the amount of aid available for international, RUE, and transfer students. Still, many of the universities and colleges with which we compete directly for students have done even more, many just in the last year. It is essential that Brown continue to compete for the most academically talented and diverse students. To do so will require substantially enhancing financial aid packages in order to provide students and families with more flexibility and reduce their reliance on loans. The Brown financial aid program must always be consistent with the principle of empowering learners by providing them with the ability to make choices about their educational careers and the opportunity to take full advantage of the unique Brown curriculum.
While there are very good public policy arguments for expecting students to shoulder a reasonable share of the cost of their education through loans and work, excessive loan burdens or expected family contributions can discourage some students from applying to or attending Brown—especially in light of what many of our peers are doing to reduce those burdens—or those students may be forced into less than optimal educational choices because of this concern. Brown’s financial aid program should enable all students to take full advantage of the educational, extracurricular, and community opportunities here, without having their decisions about how best to do that be unduly influenced by financial considerations. Those kinds of financial burdens can also reduce the post-graduation choices for students, steering them away from careers in areas such as public service and education. Six years ago the Corporation adopted need-blind admission in order to compete for the best students regardless of their financial means; now we must take that financial aid commitment to the next level to remain competitive and continue to attract those students.
back to the top
2) Ensure that Brown is a truly global university.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE 1
Make the Brown curriculum a model for global undergraduate education, expanding the depth and breadth of international experiences for students and bringing more international scholars and programs to Providence.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE 2
Encourage and support more advanced research in the sciences, the social sciences, and the arts and humanities that depend on – and contribute to – the international investigation of important questions and problems.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE 3
Build more significantly on the strengths of existing centers and programs, such as the Watson Institute, and other ongoing initiatives to develop world-class centers devoted to important global issues. Undertake needed structural, curricular, and governance changes to improve these programs.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE 4
Support a small number of carefully selected new initiatives in order to carve out a special role for Brown in the ongoing process of teaching and research on global issues.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE 5
Use Brown’s convening power, focused on the rising generation of the world’s leading scholars, writers, scientists and politicians, to make Brown the place for sustained dialogue among the world’s leading thinkers.
It has become clear over the last five years, as the Plan has evolved and been implemented, that systematic attention to the issue of internationalization is necessary if we are to achieve our goal of being a global university. In the introduction to the report of the faculty committee established to study possible ways in which Brown might respond to the increasingly global environment of higher education, Provost David Kertzer described the situation as follows: “In September 2006, five years into the successful launch and initial implementation of the Plan for Academic Enrichment, Brown University announced a broad new initiative to deepen and expand the international component of its educational and research programs. University-wide in its conception, participation and implications, the new initiative aims to match Brown’s distinctive character to the rapidly developing opportunities for global participation and the urgent need for greater global responsibility. Such a vision grows naturally out of Brown’s ethos of academic individuality and rigor combined with its sense of responsibility to the world at large.…. Just as the ‘new curriculum’ successfully distinguished Brown among its national peer institutions more than 35 years ago, so too can Brown develop an innovative vision of global education in the first decade of the 21st century. The goals of this ambitious internationalization initiative are many: preparing Brown students for lives and careers as responsible global citizens; promoting much greater knowledge of the world’s cultures and processes of globalization; ensuring that the University is effectively competing on an international stage for the best students and faculty and for resources in support of research and teaching; equipping the institution to contribute in major ways to the solution of significant world problems; and maximizing the contribution of the Brown ethos and the University’s scholarly assets in educational and policy initiatives worldwide.” (Report of the Committee on Internationalization, September 2007, page 1.)
The world of higher education is expanding rapidly. Ideas in every field are becoming international. For virtually every discipline, to be at the cutting edge of research and scholarship requires dialogue with global peers. The world’s professional and intellectual leaders increasingly live in a world without borders. Moreover, the competition among the best American universities is increasingly played out on a global stage. The competition for faculty and for research funding pits Brown against peers with global reputations for academic excellence. The competition for students – starting with undergraduates – depends ever more on our reputation for excellence in advanced research, which in turn is increasingly global in scope and nature. As a result, if Brown does not achieve global pre-eminence, we risk losing the gains achieved over the past 244 years.
Ultimately, becoming a prominent global university is more than the sum of many small initiatives. The transition to a global university must strengthen Brown’s core mission even as internationalization becomes part of Brown’s larger identity. Brown’s ability to rank among the world’s great global universities, given its size and history, will be a function of its ability to extend its unique vision of research and teaching. Having made the transition from regional to national university in its own way, Brown should treat the move to the global stage in the same fashion, as an opportunity to achieve this move while reasserting the University’s unique identity.
Education for global citizenry requires depth as well as breadth. The most successful global players will be deeply grounded – in place, in knowledge, in experience. As a result, for students, the most important “globalization” will be done right here on College Hill. Brown will deepen engagement with the world by faculty and students across all fields, bringing more international voices into the classroom. At the same time, diverse and individualized opportunities, at home as well as abroad, require careful mentoring and advising. We should expand overseas opportunities for students in ways that are integrated with the best parts of their Brown experience.
Increasingly, working at the cutting edge of advanced research means being in dialogue with scholars throughout the world. Stronger research at all levels – undergraduate, graduate, post-doctoral and faculty – requires enhanced contact with global peers. Enrichment of University-wide research facilities, including the library, should contribute both to undergraduate research and to Brown’s ability to attract and support global scholars.
Building on excellent initiatives in the sciences, the humanities and the social sciences, new work in the fields of global health, brain science, nanotechnology, and the environment, as well as in global arts and humanities will project Brown’s identity abroad and ensure a global perspective and global benchmarks across all programs. In all these fields, advanced summer workshops, post-doctoral opportunities, visiting faculty from abroad and other special programs will combine with enhanced faculty recruitment to strengthen existing programs and departments so that they might be brought to greater global prominence.
The Watson Institute offers the greatest opportunity in this domain. Its programs will need to be redirected and expanded to achieve their full potential. But, through the programs and people of the Watson Institute, Brown can be a world resource for understanding such critical issues as how the world is governed, how it might be improved, how so much poverty is sustained in a world of such plenty, and how security can be achieved between and within the world’s different cultures and nations. In addition to being a center for undergraduate teaching in these areas, the Watson Institute can support Brown’s core departments and help them to teach undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students, while serving as a central node in a global network of policy professionals and leading intellectual voices on a world-wide stage.
Brown should position itself in the forefront of thinking about the structure of global society, governance and knowledge by harnessing existing research centers in policy, science and the humanities, while bringing world-class intellectuals from scientific, cultural and policy fields into a common conversation. A small number of major new advanced research initiatives of this kind will significantly strengthen Brown’s global visibility and reputation. Whatever we do along these lines should be designed to extend Brown’s unique vision of the scholarly enterprise, and to strengthen Brown’s core mission and academic departments.
One potentially very effective way to enrich our work with global perspectives and project Brown’s scholarly leadership is to bring writers, artists, scientists, and intellectuals here from other countries, making them colleagues and alumni. Moreover, by targeting younger scholars in shorter programs, we might both strengthen Brown’s graduate division and augment a smaller PhD alumni base. An advanced workshop for young faculty and post-docs from around the world – primarily from third world nations and emerging markets -- will make Brown a world-renowned location for networking among young faculty from Africa, Latin America and Asia. Such programs would bring Brown’s undergraduates face to face with young leaders in every field from around the world, offering a unique international experience in Providence. The effort could serve to stimulate partnerships for collaborative research and internships for our undergraduate and graduate students, while also helping to spark the kinds of faculty mentoring and shared research that can knit Brown’s academic community into the global conversation about ideas.
To provide leadership and direction for these efforts, the University has created a new position of Vice President for International Affairs reporting directly to the Provost, and that position has now been filled by Professor David Kennedy’76 (who started in this new position on January 1). A significant emphasis will be given in our planning and fundraising efforts over the next several years to establishing a high level of support for this internationalization initiative.
back to the top
3) Enhance academic excellence at Brown by increasing the level and quality of support for key academic departments.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE 1
Selectively add resources to academic departments or programs that either are or have an opportunity to be among the best in the world, in order to sustain and improve that position of academic excellence.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE 2
Improve the quality and impact of the PhD programs of the Graduate School, through targeted investments and carefully focused expansion.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE 3
Identify the most promising areas of research throughout the University and improve our effectiveness in attracting outside support for these areas, through targeted investments, greater collaboration, increased seed funding, and better support for faculty seeking external funding.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE 4
Provide high levels of support for those multidisciplinary centers and initiatives that have proved most effective in raising the level of research and strengthening neighboring departments.
To achieve its goals and remain in the ranks of the most outstanding universities, Brown must support the Graduate School and research programs across the University. Significant strength in these programs enables the faculty to attract and retain outstanding scholars. These scholars will in turn attract the most sought-after undergraduate and graduate students. In order to pursue our academic goals successfully, therefore, it is essential that we have strong programs of research and graduate education. The reputation of Brown among our peers depends heavily on the strength of these programs.
Brown has a number of excellent departments that have already been strengthened by the Plan for Academic Enrichment or are coming forward with new proposals for ways that they can be strengthened. Those proposals include requests for additional faculty positions, for more graduate students and/or postdoctoral fellows, and for essential new resources to support faculty and student research (e.g., facilities and equipment, library and technology support, etc.). Such proposals are particularly compelling when they include new ways to strengthen undergraduate teaching and provide opportunities for undergraduate participation in research efforts, but they start with the excellence of the faculty and the quality of faculty work. It is also the case that, in most of those departments, an absolutely critical component of success and international reputation is a substantial and highly rated graduate program. Graduate students are essential in supporting faculty in their efforts to carry out research and scholarship at the highest level and in providing a link between that work and the teaching of undergraduates. It is no accident that the departments at Brown that compete most successfully with those institutions we consider our peers in the recruitment of new faculty are also those departments that compete most successfully for the best graduate students. For those departments, we must continue to provide the support they need to become even more competitive in the future.
Other departments at Brown may have the potential to achieve this kind of standing among peer universities but are missing one or two of the key ingredients to do so. The administration needs to work with departmental leadership to identify the current gaps and undertake strategic initiatives to fill those gaps and strengthen those departments. In some cases, a department may need to add faculty positions and recruit senior scholars. In other cases, increasing the number of junior faculty or providing additional support for faculty research will make more sense. In still others, additional faculty may not be needed but rather some combination of an enhanced graduate or postdoctoral fellow program and closer affiliation with one or more other departments or multidisciplinary centers can make the critical difference. In all cases, however, strategic investments will be required if more departments are to achieve a significant improvement in competitive standing. Given that it probably will not be possible to add faculty positions at the same rate as we have over the last 5 years, it is even more critical that we be as strategic as possible about where and when we allocate positions. The same is true, of course, for graduate student slots and other scarce resources such as space and start-up funds. In order to continue to make progress in advancing the goal of academic excellence, we must focus even more intently on our most important goals and priorities and have the discipline to maintain that focus even as events unfold in unexpected ways and new challenges arise.
There are, of course, other elements of support for academic departments beyond the provision of faculty positions and graduate student slots. Facilities play an extremely important role in the support structure for all departments, but especially in the sciences. There is also the question of the level of support provided for our libraries, information technology, research equipment and other infrastructure, and the day-to-day requirements of supporting a diverse and active group of faculty and students at the department level. A persistent message in many of the comments received over the last 6 months is that the growth in the size of the faculty and other academic initiatives has stretched many of our support systems and services to – or, in the judgment of some people, beyond – the limit. There is a clear concern that, as we continue to move forward and add faculty and graduate students, we also maintain an appropriate balance between these academic initiatives and the infrastructure and other support needed to enable all faculty and students to do their work effectively. All these features will have to be planned carefully as we move forward to increase the number of departments that are nationally ranked.
The strength of a university’s PhD programs is, in many ways, a defining measure of its quality as a leading university, something which is important both to faculty and students and to outside evaluators. This strength depends on the quality and quantity of graduate students and also on the level of research support that is provided. Although the original Plan for Academic Enrichment did provide for a significant investment in the Graduate School and that investment has in fact produced positive results, it is clear that we underestimated the degree to which success in this strategic area affects our ability to achieve success in many of our other goals, and this whole area will require continued attention. One implication of this conclusion is the need to increase the size of the overall PhD program at Brown. This issue is being studied by a working group of faculty appointed last fall by Provost Kertzer and Dean of the Graduate School Sheila Bonde and chaired by Dean Bonde, and specific recommendations are expected later in the spring semester.
Finally, a number of multidisciplinary centers were started over the last five years as part of the Plan for Academic Enrichment. These centers are critically important because they provide a focus of research activity that allows faculty and students to work at the frontiers of important fields. They are essential to Brown’s research profile and reputation and help greatly in attracting faculty and students. We must maintain our support of these activities and integrate them more fully with the goal of strengthening academic departments.
There is, of course, much more work to be done in the other “areas of strategic focus” in the Plan for Academic Enrichment. While we are recommending that increased emphasis be given to the areas described above, we do not believe that we can—or should—reduce our efforts in the other components of the original Plan. For example, the Medical School has developed a strategic plan that is central to the goals of the Plan for Academic Enrichment but is not addressed specifically in this document – precisely because it has been discussed so extensively in other venues and is now being implemented. In addition, there are important needs and priorities in administrative and support areas that must be addressed over time. The shortcomings in the use of technology in administrative systems are well known, even as the demands on such systems are growing. Code requirements and environmental sensitivities also involve sometimes costly expenditures to improve facilities and other infrastructure. The need to provide essential capacity for campus expansion off College Hill and the opportunity to participate with the larger community in a mutually beneficial way in the development and implementation of a master plan for the Jewelry District and a larger economic development strategy must also be factored in. More specific plans will need to be developed for addressing these kinds of issues and priorities will need to be established to determine how quickly and how fully we are able to move forward in each area. Appendix B provides an overview of the continuing needs in those areas and the current thinking about relative priorities.
As part of this review, we also received suggestions for other modifications to the Plan and criticism from some with respect to how the original objectives have been implemented. For example, some people expressed concern that recruiting from the outside outstanding faculty scholars whose work and accomplishments are perceived to receive additional attention and support has created a kind of “star system.” At Brown, however, virtually all campus-based faculty teach undergraduates and the best faculty are those who combine superb teaching with world-class research and scholarship, whether they are long-serving members of the Brown faculty or newly arrived. Indeed, the most effective faculty at Brown are those who are outstanding scholars in their own right but who also recognize the special opportunities available at Brown to connect their teaching and research endeavors and the value of working closely with undergraduates.
back to the top
Resource Implications of the Plan
The eighth goal in the February 2004 Plan for Academic Enrichment was to diversify and expand the University’s sources of revenue. It was well understood when the Plan was approved that its success would require unprecedented financial support from alumni, government sponsors, corporations, foundations, parents and friends. It was also understood that the University would need to find resources internally and to reallocate resources whenever possible and appropriate.
The Plan accomplishments to date, as intended, have been supported from a variety of sources. Between FY02 and FY08, the University (including the Education and General functions (E&G) and the Division of Biology and Medicine) will have added $180 million (nominal) to the operating budget for specific PAE activities. Approximately 40% of the increased expenditures are being supported from incremental student tuition and fees, 16% from increased payouts on existing endowments and 9% from payouts generated by new endowments, 12% from the growth in the annual fund, 7% from increased indirect cost recoveries, 6% from budget reductions and reallocations and the remaining 10% from internally generated income and the use of reserves. In addition, between FY02 and FY07, Brown invested $350 million in capital facilities, including acquisitions. Of that amount, $50 million has been funded with gifts received, $50 million has been funded internally and $250 million has been funded with new debt.
Of particular interest at this point is that the Campaign for Academic Enrichment, as successful as it has been, has so far produced only $500 million in cash proceeds to support the Plan, not including about $120 million in restricted current use gifts which have been directed to purposes other than the primary PAE priorities. Assuming that the Campaign achieves its goals, we expect to raise an additional $700 million for endowment, capital and unrestricted current use over the next five years. This will require that we raise approximately $140 million per year to support the Plan: approximately $70 million per year in gifts for endowment, $30 million for capital, and $40 million in gifts for unrestricted current use and BUSF. We also expect to raise another $80 million of restricted current use funds over this period, resulting in a total of $1.4 billion raised. Assuming these funds do come in as projected, we can complete the base goals of the operating and capital plans and return to a break-even budget in E&G by FY14. (See Appendix C for a more complete description of this base scenario.)
The review of the Plan has identified a number of additional opportunities that are expected to take us well beyond the next five years – opportunities that are designed to continue to strengthen Brown. These opportunities, if they are to proceed, will require significant increases in resources in both the operating and capital budgets over time, over and above the increases included in the base plan As currently envisaged, these efforts could require an estimated $20 million per year in incremental expenses for additional faculty positions, graduate student fellowships and assistantships, and other forms of academic support. In addition, these proposals could involve additional investments of something like $600-700 million for facilities expansion and renewal (in addition to the currently planned investments of approximately $500 million). (See Appendix D for a description of projected facilities needs and possible high-priority projects.) Moreover, assuming that a significant portion of these capital expenditures is likely to end up being funded with debt, we may need to add another $20 million to the operating budget to cover the incremental debt service expenses.
If these initiatives are to move forward successfully over the next 10 years, it is clear that we will need to increase revenues from as many different sources as possible and be prepared to reallocate resources from current programs and activities. Fund raising, endowment earnings, and sponsored research will all be critical components of the effort to increase revenues. We will also need to make strategic use of debt and of the University’s reserves and balances to fill in gaps for revenue streams that do not grow as robustly as we hope or to make critical investments to help those other revenue categories develop.
In terms of endowment earnings, we have been extremely fortunate -- and very well served by a dedicated Investment Committee and a talented and hard-working staff -- to have achieved truly extraordinary endowment returns over the last four years: 16.1% in FY04, 13.3% in FY05, 14.4% in FY06 and 21.7% in FY07. In the fall of 2002, the market value of the endowment was $1.48 billion. This past fall the market value was $2.67 billion. Of the $1.19 billion change in market value, $300 million has come from new gifts to endowment and the rest, $890 million, from investment performance (net after spending). The financial plan has assumed – conservatively, we believe – nominal investment returns of 7.5% per year. Clearly, our actual returns have exceeded that assumption. As a consequence, Brown is now in a position to increase the amount of spending from endowment earnings going forward (as many peer institutions have already done).
In terms of fund-raising, it is clear that significant additional resources will be required in future years. If we are to move forward with the goals and objectives described in this Plan, it will be necessary to increase annual fundraising from $140 million per year (in cash raised for endowment, capital, and unrestricted current use) to more than $200 million per year. In effect, rather than winding down fund-raising upon completion of the Campaign, we will need to increase the level of fund-raising and build on the success of the Campaign to move to an even higher level of philanthropic support. We will also need to focus the resources we are able to raise on the most important University priorities and objectives and once again consider tradeoffs between existing expenditures and proposed new programs.
back to the top
An extensive and inclusive process involving hundreds of conversations with faculty, students, staff, alumni, and others has led to the conclusions and recommendations outlined in this report. This process included evaluating the progress made since the Plan for Academic Enrichment was conceived, including identifying areas where we have fallen short of our goals as well as the successes that have been achieved. The process also involved a careful assessment of our current standing, both compared to the goals and aspirations outlined in the Plan and compared to our peers and the challenges facing all leading universities today. Most importantly, this process looked forward and identified future challenges and opportunities. In spite of the relatively short period of time that has passed since the Plan’s inception, the world has changed significantly, and many aspects of the Plan have been adjusted to adapt to those changing circumstances.
Over the course of this review process, a general consensus has emerged about the kind of university Brown should be and the role we can play in higher education and in the broader society. That consensus has helped drive the discussions regarding specific objectives and enabled us to develop a plan for focusing our energies and resources on those objectives. The recommendations contained in this report identify our highest-priority goals for the next several years and will, if this new phase of the Plan is approved, drive decision-making throughout the University. It is a call to action in support of specific, high-priority goals designed to ensure that Brown remains on the trajectory to preeminence as an elite research university.
As this process has demonstrated, the Plan for Academic Enrichment will never be “done.” The work of the University is constantly evolving and the Plan must evolve and adapt as well. The fact that so many members of the University community have contributed to this review stands as eloquent testimony to the importance of that process of evolution and adaptation. Their commitment to the University and to this ongoing process provides confidence that Brown is on the right path to achieving these very ambitious goals.
back to the top
Appendices for the Plan for Academic Enrichment - Phase II
A. Campus-wide Meetings for PAE Review (pdf)
B. Continuing Attention to the 10 Areas of Focus (pdf)
C. Base Financial Scenario (pdf)
D. Long-term Facilities Plan (pdf)
Comments from FEC, UCS, SAC, GSC, MSS (pdf)
Comments from Advisory Councils and Brown Alumni Association (pdf)
Summary of Group Meetings (pdf)
Individual Comments (pdf)
Initial Suggestions from Cabinet Members (August 2007) (pdf)