The World of Brown

By Norman Boucher / September / October 2006
December 4th, 2006

Is it possible for Brown to upgrade its research, its medical school, and its graduate school—as called for in the Plan for Academic Enrichment—without diluting the excellence of its undergraduate college?

Frank Mullin
David Kertzer ’69 began his stint as provost on July 1.

Any questions about whether the administration’s focus would come at the expense of the undergraduate college were partially answered this summer when President Simmons chose Professor of Anthropology David Kertzer ’69 to become the University’s tenth provost. “One of the things I’m planning to do,” Kertzer says, “is to pay major attention to the undergraduate college.”

This is possible, Kertzer emphasizes, precisely because Robert Zimmer, who left the provost job this summer to become president of the University of Chicago, dealt so successfully with research and the graduate schools. “I don’t want people to think that now the pendulum has swung and we’ve got someone from old Brown who understands the old days of the College.”

So, what, specifically, will Kertzer do? It’s time to look again at the Brown curriculum, he says: “It does seem a little odd that we should still be thinking of the undergraduate college in terms of the ‘New’ Curriculum, even though it is more than a third of a century old.” It’s time to give it another look, he says, “not because of any weakness, but because we want to build on its strength. We’re not the Brown we were thirty-five years ago.”

The advising of students, he says, needs to be improved, but even more than that, the undergraduate college needs to recognize that “students are becoming real citizens of the world, especially in terms of being familiar with world issues, world problems, and world cultures. So providing our students with a rich educational experience on world issues and bringing more and more of the world to Brown is going to play a very important role.”

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September / October 2006