Office of the President
October 23, 2023
Tags Community Messages

October 2023 Corporation Meeting: World Events, Academic Excellence, Celebrating the Arts, New Trustee Terms; and accepting of gifts and establishment of endowed positions.

From the President

News from the Corporation Meeting

Dear Members of the Brown Community,

The Corporation of Brown University recently completed its fall meetings. For those who are new to the community, the Corporation (the name given in the charter of the University, written in 1764) is the University’s highest governing body. The Corporation comprises a Board of Fellows and a Board of Trustees and is responsible for matters of policy and long-term planning. Trustees and fellows represent a broad range of professions, experiences and perspectives, and are chosen through a variety of processes — including alumni and student elections — but always for their commitment to the University and its mission of education and research.

More information about the trustees and fellows as a whole, biographies of members, and their roles and responsibilities can be found on the Corporation website:


As is the case for many members of our community, the ongoing conflict in the Middle East was front and center of many discussions among the trustees and fellows. We adjusted the meeting schedule to devote additional time for members to engage with the issues, including conversations about the implications and impacts on the campus and the Brown community as a whole. Members of the Corporation expressed gratitude and appreciation for students, faculty and staff who are supporting each other with care and empathy through the unrelenting stress of what is happening in the region. True to the mission of Brown, many members of our community are leading efforts on campus and beyond to broaden and deepen understanding through scholarship, education, community gatherings and forums for discussion. While those efforts are underway, Brown’s primary focus has been, and will continue to be, on supporting the needs and safety of our students, faculty and staff who are Israeli, Palestinian, Muslim, Jewish, have ties to the region, and are feeling impacted by current events.


Over the course of meetings in committees and as a whole, members of the Corporation discussed a variety of topics related to academic excellence and planning. These included updates on academic capital projects, such as the Integrated Life Sciences Building, which is currently in design, and discussion with the senior academic deans regarding faculty searches and hiring, as well as progress toward meeting our goals for diversifying the faculty.

The Committee on Academic Affairs received an update and progress report on the Operational Plan for Investing in Research from Vice President for Research Jill Pipher and Provost Francis J. Doyle III, and Dean of the School of Professional Studies Shankar Prasad led a discussion with both the committee and the Corporation as a whole regarding efforts underway with the faculty to expand master’s and professional education opportunities at Brown. Members of the Committee on Budget and Finance received an excellent presentation from Vice President for Finance and Administrative Services and Chief Financial Officer Michael White titled “Brown Finances 101," which has been developed to more effectively tell the story of how Brown makes decisions about funding the academic and administrative operations that fulfill our mission of education and research. That presentation will be used widely with faculty, staff and student groups who are interested in this topic in the coming months.


This weekend’s meetings coincided with the kickoff of Brown’s yearlong celebration of the arts and opening of The Lindemann Performing Arts Center. Trustees and fellows participated in a dedication ceremony to thank and honor the many donors and members of the planning, design and construction teams who made this transformational academic facility a reality. Members of the Brown, Providence and Rhode Island communities enjoyed the wondrous inaugural public concert on Saturday evening featuring renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman, with the Brown University Orchestra, Brown University Chorus, members of the Providence Singers, and other talented guest artists.

Over the course of the coming year, there will be many opportunities for faculty, students, staff and members of the Providence and Rhode Island communities to partake in events and performances from across the artistic spectrum, beginning with the first installation in the IGNITE series, “Varying Shades of Brown,” by internationally distinguished artist Carrie Mae Weems. More information about this and other exciting projects taking place at The Lindemann and across the arts at Brown can be found online at


The Corporation discussed and approved an important change to the term length of the position of New Alumni Trustee, restoring the position to a three-year term after several years of two-year terms for trustees serving in this role. The New Alumni Trustee position was first established in 2009, and for the first seven years or so, individuals were elected by the Corporation to three-year terms upon recommendation of the Committee on Trustee Vacancies. Beginning in the 2016-17 academic year, the Corporation transitioned the position to be elected annually by graduating students and recent alumni (eligible voters in New Alumni Trustee elections include undergraduate, graduate and medical students in the final year of study, and undergraduate, graduate and medical alumni one to five years after their date of graduation). In establishing these positions as roles elected by students and recent graduates, the Corporation reserved two positions among its membership for New Alumni Trustees, appointed for staggered two-year terms.

The rationale for two-year terms was to keep the individuals serving in these positions close to their student experience (eligibility for New Alumni Trustees is limited to undergraduate, graduate and medical students in their final year of study, and undergraduate, graduate and medical alumni no more than three years after their graduation). However, our experience has been that the two years go by very quickly and that one additional year of service from each New Alumni Trustee would be of great value to the Corporation.

Following discussion within the Corporation and with the Brown Alumni Association Board of Governors, the Corporation approved a proposal to extend the length of term of New Alumni Trustees to three years. The two individuals currently serving in these positions – William Zhou ’20 and Shanelle Chambers Haile PhD ’23 – will each serve one additional year, to 2025 and 2026, respectively. Accordingly, there will not be a New Alumni Trustee election this year, and elections going forward will be held in advance of each anticipated vacancy (normally in two out of every three years).


The trustees and fellows formally accept gifts and pledges in the amount of $1 million or more. At this meeting, they formally accepted gifts and pledges made since the May 2023 meeting. Totaling more than $136 million, the approved set of generous commitments will provide critical support for Brown’s priorities, including endowed professorships, financial aid, graduate education, the Integrated Life Sciences Building, athletics and a range of academic programs. The success of the BrownTogether campaign to date builds from gifts of many dollar amounts, and all are essential to our success and deeply appreciated.

The trustees and fellows also approved the establishment of a number of endowed positions in recognition of generous gifts having been received. The Corporation also established an endowed position from the increased market value of a previously established professorship, which is an example of ongoing efforts to deploy endowed resources in an effective manner in support of University priorities. When there are circumstances in which an endowed fund grows to the point that it can support an additional faculty position at the same level as a newly created endowed professorship, and when the donors agree, a new professorship will be established. Professorships established at this meeting include the following:

-- The Carl Kawaja and Wendy Holcombe Professor of Public Health was established with the generous support of Carl Kawaja '86, P'24 and Wendy Holcombe.

-- The Xuan He Assistant Professorship was established with the generous support of an anonymous donor.

-- The Assistant Deanship of the College, within the Center for Career Exploration, was established with the generous support of anonymous donors.

-- The Michael Targoff '66 Professorship was established with the generous support of Michael B. Targoff '66, P'91, P'93, GP'23, GP'26, GP'26.

-- The Sorensen Family Provost's Professorship was established with the generous support of Joan Wernig Sorensen '72 LHD'19 hon., P'06 P'06 and E. Paul Sorensen '71 ScM'75 PhD'77 LDH'19 hon., P'06 P'06.

-- The Lawrence and Barbara Margolis Directorship of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society was established with the generous support of anonymous donors.

-- The Christopher M. Barter '90 Assistant Professorship was established with the generous support of Christopher M. Barter '90.

-- The two Orlando Bravo Assistant Professorships in Economics were renamed the Orlando Bravo University Professorships in Economics, with the generous support of Orlando Bravo '92, P'26.

-- The Andrew W. Mellon Professorship in the Humanities II was established through the increased market value of the original endowment and with the previous generous support of The Mellon Foundation.

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

-- Christopher Azzoli, Jeffrey A. Brown and Barbara Horovitz Brown Associate Professor of Translational Medicine

-- Bharat Ramratnam, Warren Alpert Foundation Professor of Medicine

Members of the Campus Life Committee participated in tours led by students and administrators of the newly opened Chen Family and William and Ami Danoff residence halls and the recently renovated Stonewall House, home of the LGBTQ Center. The Board of Fellows met with the officers of the Faculty Executive Committee.

Also at these meetings, new trustees were welcomed to the Corporation. The new trustees are Eldridge H. Gilbert III ’05, Christine A. Leahy ’86, Amra Sabic-El-Rayess ’00 and Gladys Xiques ’94. As previously noted, Shanelle Chambers Haile PhD’23 will serve a three-year term as a New Alumni Trustee. Biographical information for these individuals and other members can be found on the Corporation website:

Christina H. Paxson