Office of the President
September 6, 2023
Tags Community Messages

Committee charged to examine Brown admissions policies

From the President

Dear Members of the Brown Community,

Brown has a strong track record for national leadership in demonstrating a commitment to building and sustaining a diverse and inclusive campus community, and we have taken seriously our commitment to demonstrating this in the way we build a student body that is diverse by many measures.

Over the course of several years, the University has continually examined its admissions policies and processes, particularly as various national conversations have prompted debate around issues of admissions integrity and access. Concerns about the use of various preferences in admissions have been growing over time but have become amplified in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down race-conscious admissions. There is intense interest among policymakers, the public at large, and our own students and alumni in ensuring that admissions practices are as fair and equitable as possible.

I write to share that I have charged an Ad Hoc Committee on Admissions Policies to evaluate Brown's undergraduate admissions policies and practices to ensure they advance the University's mission and values. I have charged the committee to do the following:

  • Review data on applicants admitted through the early decision and regular admissions cycles, and make a recommendation on whether Brown should alter its current policy on early decision.
  • Assess the impact of standardized test score requirements on the applicant pool, the composition of the student body and successful student outcomes, and make a recommendation on whether Brown should continue to be “test optional.”
  • Evaluate admissions data on students with family connections to Brown, and make a recommendation on whether preferences for such applicants should be modified.

The committee may choose to make additional recommendations that are consistent with Brown’s commitments and support our educational mission. At Brown, we know that all of these issues are much more complex than is commonly represented in the national discourse. Each of these policies and practices also affects many in our community in different — and often personal — ways, and discussions of these topics will reflect varying perspectives and points of view.

As stated in the charge, this is an important moment for Brown to assess its admissions policies to ensure the University is fully realizing its educational mission and upholding its commitments to academic excellence, equity, access and diversity. The full charge is posted on the Office of the President website.

The committee is being asked to make its recommendations to the president and the Corporation of Brown University — as the University’s highest governing body — before the start of the Spring 2024 semester. This will ensure that any decisions that would affect admissions practices will be made in advance of next year’s admissions cycle.

The committee will be co-chaired by the provost and a member of the Corporation. The full committee membership is as follows:

  • Francis J. Doyle III, Provost (co-chair)
  • Preetha Basaviah ’91 MD ’95, Brown University Trustee (co-chair)
  • John Friedman, Briger Family Distinguished Professor of Economics
  • Earl E. Hunt II ’03, Brown University Trustee
  • Carlos Lejnieks ’00, Brown University Trustee and Past President of the Brown Alumni Association
  • Kimberly Mowry, Robin Chemers Neustein Professor of Biomedicine
  • Alison Ressler ’80, Brown University Fellow
  • Noliwe Rooks, L. Herbert Ballou University Professor of Africana Studies
  • Bjorn Sandstede, Alumni-Alumnae University Professor of Applied Mathematics
  • William Zhou ’20, Brown University Trustee and former president of the Undergraduate Council of Students

The committee will be staffed by Elizabeth Doherty, Deputy Provost for Academic Affairs.

I want to thank the committee in advance for devoting time to this complex work. Brown remains firmly committed to admitting and educating students who can thrive and go on to fulfill their greatest potential, both as students and in their lives after Brown.


Christina H. Paxson