Office of the President
May 22, 2015
Tags Community Messages

May 2015 Corporation Meeting: Strategic Planning, Elections, Endowed Positions

From the President

Dear Members of the Brown Community,

I am writing to share news of the recently completed May meeting of the Corporation of Brown University. Over the past week, the Corporation engaged in discussion and took action on a number of priorities in support of the ​Building on Distinction strategic plan; elected 11 new members to its Board of Trustees; named 16 current faculty members to endowed chairs; officially accepted more than $25 million in gifts to the University; and engaged in discussion with faculty, students and administrators on a range of topics affecting academics, planning and campus life.

Of course, of particular interest to our students is likely the news that the Corporation’s Board of Fellows approved the awarding of more than 2,400 degrees for the University’s 247th Commencement this Sunday. The Fellows perform this formal act every spring to usher in the wonderful celebration of this milestone moment this weekend for our students and their families.

​​Strategic Planning and Other Business

As a whole and in committee meetings, members of the Corporation discussed progress toward the goals of the strategic plan, fundraising accomplishments in support of those priorities, planning for a campaign, and emerging areas of academic interest and priority. The latter included a discussion with faculty leaders in the area of data sciences, the growth in master’s programs, and online and engaged learning in both the School of Professional Studies and the College, among other topics.

In the area of capital projects, committees reviewed the progress on design of the new building for the School of Engineering, with construction anticipated to begin at the end of this year. Members of the Corporation also received progress reports on the Applied Math building, which will be completed in the fall, and planning to address facility needs in the performing arts. In addition, the meeting included discussions about opportunities to collaborate on economic development with the City of Providence and the State in the Jewelry District in a manner that supports the academic mission of the University.

On Wednesday, members of the Corporation engaged in informal discussion groups with students on two topics of great importance: “Socioeconomic Barriers to Success at Brown” and “STEM Education at Brown.” This was part of the continued effort to increase communication and engagement between members of the Corporation and the student body. The discussions were highly engaging and informed conversations with Corporation members throughout the course of the meetings in areas of academic planning and supporting positive student outcomes.

​​Election of Trustees and Other Actions

The Corporation elected the following new Trustees: John C. Atwater ’83, P’16, Brian A. Benjamin ’98, Sangeeta N. Bhatia ’90, Brickson E. Diamond ’93, Jeffrey F. Hines ’83 MD’86, Jennifer B. Moses ’83, Barry Rosenstein P’10 MFA’13, P’15, Pablo J. Salame ’88, Preston C. Tisdale ’73, P’10, P’10 MPH’ MD’15, P’12, and Catherine Willis Maas ’85, P’13, P’17. Kayla S. Rosen ’14 will serve a three-year term as a Young Alumni Trustee. Kayla Rosen was elected to this position by the Corporation following a campus process involving undergraduate, graduate and medical student representatives who did excellent work broadening and deepening the pool of young alumni for this position and other forms of University service. Brief biographical notes on the new Trustees are available online.

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

  • Cynthia Brokaw, Chen Family Professor of China Studies;
  • Vicki L. Colvin, Vernon K. Krieble Professor of Chemistry and Engineering;
  • Phyllis A. Dennery, Sylvia Kay Hassenfeld Professor of Pediatrics;
  • Patrick Heller, Lyn Crost Professor of Social Sciences;
  • Robert Self, Mary Ann Lippitt Professor of American History;
  • Lai-Sheng Wang, Jesse H. and Louisa D. Sharpe Metcalf Professor of Chemistry;
  • Michael White, Robert E. Turner Distinguished Professor of Population Studies;
  • Daniel Smith, Professor of Anthropology and Royce Family Professor of Teaching Excellence;
  • Sarah Besky, Charles Evans Hughes 1881 Assistant Professor of Anthropology and International and Public Affairs;
  • Elizabeth Hoover, Manning Assistant Professor of American Studies;
  • Karla Kaun, Robert J. and Nancy D. Carney Assistant Professor of Neuroscience;
  • James Kuzner, Joukowsky Family Assistant Professor of English;
  • Sohini Ramachandran, Manning Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology;
  • Matthew Rutz, William A. Dyer, Jr. Assistant Professor of Humanities;
  • Joshua Tucker, Dean’s Assistant Professor of Music;
  • Andre Willis, Willard Prescott and Annie McClelland Smith Assistant Professor of Religious Studies.

At a meeting earlier this spring, the Fellows approved the recommendations of the faculty to establish an Executive Master Program in Cybersecurity and to allow for the new faculty title of Distinguished Senior Lecturer. The Fellows also approved the candidates for baccalaureate and advanced degrees, to be awarded at Commencement on Sunday, May 24.

​​Establishment of Endowed Positions, Acceptance of Gifts

The Corporation established several endowed professorships and accepted a number of pledges and gifts supporting many of Brown’s priorities.

The gifts and pledges include the following:

  • From anonymous donors a gift of $5,000,000 pending donor designation;
  • From Mr. John C. Atwater ’83, P’16 and Ms. Diana Nelson P’16, a pledge of $5,000,000 to support an endowed professorship in environmental studies and scholarly research in the professor’s particular field of study;
  • From anonymous donors a pledge of $3,060,000 to support the Brazilian Mata Atlantica Biome Restoration Project at the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society;
  • From an anonymous donor, a pledge of $3,000,000 to support professors of the practice of creative writing;
  • From Ralph Rosenberg ’86, P’17 and Kim Rosenberg P’17, a pledge of $2,500,000 to support a professorship in Brain Science and the Brown Annual Fund;
  • From His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan LLD’96, P’95, a pledge of $2,000,000 to support the Aga Khan Professorship in Islamic Humanities;
  • From David E. Gochman ’87, a gift of $1,500,000 to the President's Flexible Fund;
  • From anonymous donors, a pledge of $1,032,280, to support an Assistant Professor of History and Brown Annual Fund Scholarships;
  • From Mr. Ajay Nagpal ’90, new commitments of $1,000,000 to support the Ajay and Debbie Nagpal BrownConnect International Internship Fund, post-doctoral fellowships at the Watson Institute, and the Brown Annual Fund;
  • From anonymous donors, a gift of $1,000,000 to increase the Brook Street Scholarship Fund, providing even further support for undergraduates at the University with the highest financial aid need.

The Corporation approved the establishment of the following professorships:

  • The John Atwater ’83, P’16 and Diana Nelson P’16 University Professorship in Environmental Studies established with the support of Mr. John C. Atwater ’83, P’16 and Ms. Diana Nelson P’16;
  • The Aga Khan Professorship in Islamic Humanities, converted from the prior Aga Khan Visiting Professorship in Islamic Humanities with the support of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan LLD’96, P’95;
  • Professors of the Practice of creative writing established with the support of anonymous donors;
  • An assistant professorship in history established with the support of anonymous donors.

The Corporation also approved the naming of the reader services area in the John Hay Library as the Maurice R. Greenberg Room in grateful recognition of decades of generous philanthropy by Maurice R. Greenberg LLD ’90 Hon., P’73, P’84, GP’06, GP’09, GP’11, GP’15 and the Starr Foundation.


Members of the Corporation remain keenly interested in supporting progress in the areas of Brown’s strategic priorities, and deeply engaged in issues affecting the campus. Over the past year, the Brown community has celebrated significant accomplishments, discussed challenging issues, and mourned great loss. Brown students, faculty and staff have much to be proud of as this year comes to a close. The Corporation joins me in thanking you for your commitment to and caring for Brown and each other.


Christina H. Paxson

Further information about the Corporation is available online.