“Philanthropy follows leadership,” says Patricia Watson, Brown’s senior vice president for advancement. In fiscal year 2013, which ended June 30, 39,000 donors contributed $195.4 million in gifts and pledges, a five-year high. Watson credits the confidence that past president Ruth Simmons and current president Christina Paxson have inspired in alumni and parents.
When Watson joined the administration last December, her office had been told to raise an ambitious $200 million. “President Simmons set the bar,” Watson said. “At my first meeting with my staff, I told them, ‘You raised $186 million before. You can do this.’ People were eager to be successful and knew what to do.”
Although they just missed that goal, the $195.4 million total surpasses the previous high by nearly $10 million. The Annual Fund brought in $35.4 million, $1.6 million short of its $37 million goal.
“I don’t see that as a failure,” Watson says. “I think we have to ask: Is that the right goal?”
Nearly $150 million of the gifts will fund top University priorities: faculty, financial aid, the Brown Institute for Brain Science, the humanities, residential life, athletics, the new schools of engineering and public health, and the renovation of Hunter Lab, which houses environmental research and teaching.