Office of the President
October 28, 2012
Tags Community Messages

October 2012 Corporation Meeting: Strategic Planning and Committee Discussion

From the President

Dear Members of the Brown Community,

I am pleased to write with news from the recently completed regular October meeting of the Corporation of Brown University. The Corporation engaged in discussion of a number of strategic issues, accepted new gifts, and welcomed new members. Members of the Corporation also participated in events and forums related to Alumni Fall Weekend and the Inauguration, including the wonderful performance Friday evening at Veterans Memorial Auditorium featuring talented artists from Brown, Providence, and Rhode Island. I wish to thank all members of the community for welcoming me and my family so warmly during this Inauguration weekend. 

Strategic Planning

As the campus engages in the ongoing strategic planning process, the areas of focus of the various committees and the overall process were naturally topics of discussion with the Corporation this weekend. The Facilities & Design Committee, for example, received an update on the campus master planning exercise that the Committee on Re-imagining the Brown Campus and Community is undertaking, and heard a presentation from Ricardo Dumont of Sasaki Associates, the master planning firm retained to aid these efforts this year. Other committees held similar discussions relevant to their charge, and at its strategic discussion session the Corporation as a whole engaged in discussions with the faculty and administrative leaders of the committees exploring undergraduate education, financial aid, and online education. 

The purpose of these discussions at this early stage, as is the case with other campus constituencies, was to provide the Corporation with an overview of the planning process in which we are engaged, seek input and feedback, and to begin the dialogue that will take place across the Brown community over the course of this year. While a number of the areas of focus in the strategic planning process align with one or more Corporation committees, several themes cut across our governance structures. Accordingly, I have formed ad hoc working groups on digital technology and campus master planning drawing on members of various committees within the Corporation and also from advisory councils and other sources of expertise to work with us this year on these issues. Internationalization and diversity similarly are essential to every aspect of strategic planning, and in the committees Provost Schlissel has formed and across the campus we will be asking everyone involved in planning to ensure they figure prominently in our thinking and eventual findings and recommendations. 

Planning is an iterative undertaking, and we anticipate that the discussions that took place among members of the Corporation will be repeated and augmented throughout the Brown community in the weeks and months ahead. I strongly encourage all faculty, students, staff, and alumni to seek out and take advantage of opportunities to participate in these discussions, offer suggestions, provide constructive criticism, and otherwise make your voices heard. The plans the community brings forth this academic year will establish priorities and inform Brown’s direction for the next decade and beyond, and this is an important opportunity for all of us to ensure we produce the best possible ideas for consideration.

Committee Discussion and Other Business

As noted above, several committees engaged in focused discussions of strategic planning topics relevant to their charge. The Committee on Academic Affairs, meeting in the newly renovated Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab in the Rockefeller Library, covered issues related to enhancing faculty scholarship, including both infrastructure and resource needs, as well as the planning process seeking to identify signature academic initiatives. The Committee also received an update on the proposal to establish the Program in Public Health as a School, which will be taken up by the faculty next month. Members of the Committee on Campus Life and other members of the Corporation met with students over breakfast Friday morning to discuss issues and topics of common interest, and the Committee on Development discussed progress on fundraising in the priority areas established last year. Many of the gifts accepted by the Corporation this weekend, described in more detail below, directly support those priorities. The Committee on Facilities & Design reviewed ongoing and planned capital projects, including the residence hall renovations completed this past summer and those planned for summer 2013, the renovation of the building for environmental research and teaching on Waterman Street, and the campus master planning process more generally.

New Members of the Corporation

The Corporation welcomed new Fellow Theresia Gouw’90; and three new Trustees: Craig Barton ’77, Alison Cohen ’09, and William Twaddell ’63.

New Gifts

The Corporation accepted with gratitude a number of gifts to the University. These include:

  • From parents who wish to remain anonymous, a gift of $10,000,000, of which $5,000,000 is for Residential Life/Dormitories and $5,000,000 is for endowment of programs and positions associated with the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies and the Brown/Trinity Master of Fine Arts programs in Acting and Directing;
  • From the Estate of Margaret E. Jacobs ’67, a gift of $3,000,000 for endowed scholarships;
  • From parents who wish to remain anonymous, a gift of $2,500,000, of which $2,000,000 is for the Building for Environmental Research and Teaching and $500,000 is to be allocated at the discretion of the President;
  • From Martha and Bruce Karsh P’14 through the Karsh Family Foundation, a gift of $2,500,000 to establish an endowed scholarship fund and to provide current use funds for expanded support to undergraduate financial aid students at Brown who are graduates of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP);
  • From anonymous donors, a gift of $2,500,000 to support academic initiatives at the President’s discretion;
  • From Trustee Kevin A. Mundt ’76, P’11, Co-Chair of the Athletics Initiative, and Mrs. Jayne Mundt P’11, a gift of $2,000,000 for the Athletics Initiative;
  • From an anonymous donor, a gift of $1,000,000 to support medical research;
  • From Peter A. Fair P’15, a gift of $1,000,000, of which $500,000 is for academic initiatives at the President’s discretion and $500,000 is for the Brown Annual Fund;
  • From an anonymous donor, an unrestricted gift of sculpture by Tom Friedman entitled “Circle Dance.” The sculpture had been reviewed and recommended for acceptance by the Committee on Facilities & Design and its Sub-committee on Public Art, and it will be installed along the walk between Waterman and Angell Streets next month.


On Friday evening, the Corporation joined with the Brown Alumni Association and alumni leaders from around the world on Pembroke Field to honor the 2012 Alumni Award Recipients. This celebratory evening was a wonderful opportunity to recognize and thank the legions of alumni who make such an enormous contribution to the Brown community and to society at large. We are grateful for their service and dedication to all things Brown, just as we are grateful for the hard work and commitment to excellence embodied by faculty, students, and staff on campus every day. Thank you for all that you do for Brown.


Christina H. Paxson