Letter from Chancellor Tisch

March 2, 2012

Dear Members of the Brown Community,

I am delighted to announce that earlier today the Corporation convened for a special meeting and with great enthusiasm elected Dr. Christina H. Paxson the 19th President of Brown University. This concludes an exhaustive international search conducted with collegiality and collaboration by the twenty-nine members of the search committee, including members of the Corporation, faculty, students, and staff. Because of Dr. Paxson’s relentless pursuit of quality, her unwavering devotion to academic excellence, her personal passion for teaching and research, her remarkable leadership and record of impact, and her inspiring style and character the committee members and the Corporation are unanimous in the belief that she will be a magnificent leader for our community. She will treasure and preserve all that is distinctive about Brown, and build strength throughout the University in the years to come. We are honored and privileged to welcome her to Brown.

Dr. Paxson is currently the Hughes Rogers Professor of Economics and Public Affairs and the Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. In 2000, she founded the Center for Health and Wellbeing (CHW), a multidisciplinary health research center in the Woodrow Wilson School. During her time as director of CHW, the center started undergraduate and graduate certificate programs in health and health policy, and took on the leadership of the University’s Health Grand Challenges program. Prior to her appointment as Dean in 2009, she was chair of Princeton’s Economics Department and was the founding director of a National Institute on Aging Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging at Princeton. She was elected as vice president of the American Economics Association in 2012 and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Her research is on health, economic development and public policy, with a current focus on economic status and health outcomes over the life course in both developed and developing countries. She has been the Principal Investigator on a number of research projects supported by the National Institutes of Health, the most recent of which is a study of on adversity and resilience after Hurricane Katrina. She received her undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College and earned her doctorate in economics from Columbia University.

As Dean, Dr. Paxson has been responsible for leading one of the world’s great centers of education and scholarship in public and international affairs. The Woodrow Wilson School includes distinguished undergraduate and graduate education programs, and serves as a source of leading research on a wide variety of topics of global import. Dr. Paxson has led the School to new heights, overseeing curricular reform, financial adjustments in the wake of the economic crisis, and appointments to the faculty of the highest caliber. She has overseen significant changes in the undergraduate major in public and international affairs, which included eliminating selective admissions and revamping the curriculum to place greater emphasis on multidisciplinary learning, independent research, and field experience in the United States and internationally. Under her leadership, the Woodrow Wilson School founded the Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy and Finance and increased opportunities for research and teaching on issues related to domestic and international financial markets. She has done this work with a leadership style that espouses listening and consensus, balanced with decisiveness and progress toward shared goals, and has earned the deep respect and admiration of her colleagues and students.

I wish to thank the members of the search committee who gave so much of their time and wisdom to this process over the past several months. Our committee had one of the most challenging tasks imaginable – finding a successor to Ruth Simmons, whose leadership of Brown has been extraordinary. Our efforts were informed by the input and opinions of members of the community offered at open forums and other communications in October, and articulated in the presidential search statement which espoused the values and qualities we sought in our next president. Following the public outreach phase of the search, the committee members met numerous times and traveled far and wide, meeting with a broad array of fascinating and highly qualified candidates for this position. We were impressed by the knowledge of and keen interest in what is taking place at Brown, and that is a testament to the work and dedication of all faculty, staff, student, and alumni.

Throughout the process we reaffirmed all that is special about Brown — our signature approach to education and scholarship, which is characterized by intellectual independence, close interaction between students and faculty, a focus on the merits of a liberal education, and a commitment to research. The mission and purpose of Brown resonated with everyone we met, but none more so than Christina Paxson. Her background of scholarship and teaching excellence combined with her leadership and managerial experience has prepared her well for the role of President of Brown. Additionally, she brings a love of learning, a dedication to students, a knowledge of the depth and breadth of disciplines, and core values of integrity, passion, insight, and caring. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Paxson to the Brown community.


Thomas J. Tisch