If, as the Taoist philosopher Lao Tse once said, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, Brown's $100 million-plus pilgrimage to need-blind admissions started with a good leap. In late March the Starr Foundation committed $15 million toward President Simmons's plan to institute such admissions beginning with the class of '07. The grant, the largest financial-aid gift in the University's history, will fund thirty to forty undergraduate scholarships each year.
According to Dean of Admission Michael Goldberger, over the last decade 90 to 95 percent of U.S. applicants have been admitted based on talent alone, regardless of their financial needs. For the final 5 to 10 percent of each class, however, an applicant's ability to pay has influenced admission decisions. The Starr gift, which will be rolled into the endowment, will help ensure that all U.S. applicants be considered solely on merit.
In announcing the donation, Starr Foundation chairman Maurice Greenberg, the father of Jeffrey '73 and Cathleen Greenberg London '84, said the foundation hoped "it inspires others to give as well." That wish will have to come true if Brown is to succeed in raising at least another $85 million - the minimum needed to bring the University the rest of the way toward an admission policy free of financial considerations.