Paying Up

April 27th, 2007

With all the pomp and glitz befitting such an ambitious goal, on October 22 the University announced a $1.4 billion, five-year fund-raising effort called the Campaign for Academic Enrichment.

"This," explained Chancellor Stephen Robert '62, "is the campaign to pay partly for what we've already done and partly for what we'll be doing in the future."

Like the Plan for Academic Enrichment after which it's named, the campaign is unprecedented in the history of the University for its reach. It aims to add $660 million to Brown's endowment, almost half of which would be devoted to supporting undergraduate financial aid, and more than a third of which would fund salaries and expenses of the 100 new faculty members called for in the academic-enrichment plan.

Officials plan to use another $200 million to build new campus facilities and renovate old ones. A quarter of that amount will be dedicated to completing the Life Sciences Building already under construction off Thayer Street. Another $65 million will fund construction of a new campus fitness center as well as a new building to house cognitive and linguistic sciences. Other big-ticket items include a new walkway joining the Pembroke campus to Lincoln Field and a building for creative arts.

The final $540 million of the $1.4 billion will support such existing academic and adminstrative programs as the Brown Annual Fund ($185 million), the Brown University Sports Foundation ($20 million), scholarships currently in use ($20 million), the medical school and the program in public health ($40 million), and various academic departments, institutes, and centers ($275 million).

Although the dollar goal is almost three times higher than any previous campaign in Brown's history, fund-raisers have collected more than a third of it already. Over the past two years they have assembled a nucleus fund of more than $575 million - $125 million of it from Sidney Frank '42 - which in itself is at least $40 million more than the total collected by any previous campaign.

How was Brown able to raise so much money so quickly? Robert's answer is "the brilliant and incomparable Ruth Simmons." Elizabeth Chace '59, one of the campaign's three cochairs, agrees with Robert. "Ruth is a phenomenal fund-raiser," she says. "She tells a story so well, and her enthusiasm is obvious. Ruth is an academic. But she realizes you have to both do the academics and raise the money for them."

Other senior officials cite the progess that Simmons and her administrative team have already achieved as an important factor in separating donors from their money. More than half of the 100 new faculty members promised in the Plan for Academic Enrichment have been hired, for example, while faculty salaries have risen and graduate stipends have increased (from $12,800 to $17,000 a year). Need-blind admission is entering its third year, and the number of freshman seminars increased this semester to sixty-three, up from the twenty-three offered in 2002. In addition, this fall Sidney Frank's $100 million gift meant that, for the first time in its history, Brown could eliminate loans for its neediest students.

Matthew Mallow '64, another cochair, says that beginning to implement a plan before raising money for it was pretty much Simmons's idea from the start. "I was on the search committee that selected Ruth," he says. "She was the very first candidate we met. She was the standard by which we measured all the other candidates. And she said, 'Look, I don't yet know a lot about Brown, but from what I do know, you need to develop an ambitious plan for where you want to go, and you're going to have to jump-start it. You're going to have to take a risk.' "

To raise the rest of the money, Mallow, Chace, and cochair Jerome Vascellaro '74 have recruited about sixty vice chairs from around the United States. (International vice chairs will soon join them.) The vice chairs will in turn recruit volunteers to help beat the bushes for donors.

As for Simmons, she encapsulated with her typical directness the rationale for the campaign when she spoke to 600 alumni, faculty, students, and staff at the kickoff gala on October 22:

"We are here," she said, "to secure Brown's place among the world's finest universities by supporting and enriching the academic life that has at its heart the connection between professors and students."

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November / December 2005