From the President

By Christina Paxson / July/August 2015
July 10th, 2015

Reunion and commencement weekend marked the conclusion of a momentous celebration of the University’s 250th anniversary, a festive send-off for our graduates and their families, and an opportunity to reflect on the past year while also looking ahead to the future.

Mike Cohea
The 250th celebration concluded with the surprise debut of "Alma Mater 250," and updated version of the classic. 
This has been a year of great forward momentum. We have not only completed a new strategic plan, Building on Distinction, we are also acting on it, moving forward with exciting new programs that will make Brown even stronger. We envision a future of advancing excellence and innovation in learning, strengthening research and teaching, building our campus, and investing in the people who make Brown the great University and community that it is

So what does this mean in real terms? It means advancing innovation in learning by using technology to improve the quality of learning and to reach new groups of students. And it means moving the Open Curriculum into the twenty-first century by encouraging students to build deep connections between academic and off-campus experiences and to prepare students for productive careers.

We have launched two new programs to achieve this end: BrownConnect, a program that connects students with internships and provides the financial support that puts internships within reach of all Brown students, and the Engaged Scholars program, through which students undertake a large number of hours in an off-campus experience that is directly related to their academic plan and a senior capstone experience.

In the area of strengthening research, our goal is to create vibrant intellectual hubs that bring scholars from different fields together to work on issues that matter to the world. This includes a revitalized Watson Institute that is now home to three undergraduate concentrations and active research programs on security, governance, and development in the United States and across the globe. This also includes the Cogut Center for the Humanities, a vibrant hub of inquiry on the human experience; the Political Theory Project, which fosters exchange on what it takes for societies to be just, prosperous, and fair; and the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, which supports scholarship and public conversations on issues that are vital to this country.

The foundation for our forward progress is a strong campus infrastructure. Among the many examples of the ways we are building our campus are the newly renovated Hunter Lab, which houses the Institute for the Study of Environment and Society; the renovation of all first-year dorms; a new building under construction for applied math; and another facility soon to break ground for engineering.

But, first and foremost, the University’s success is about its people. One of my priorities is to recruit and retain talented, innovative, diverse faculty. I have set an ambitious goal of doubling the proportion of faculty from historically underrepresented groups over the next ten years so that we have outstanding scholars who reflect the same breadth of diverse experience as our students. We’ll also build stronger graduate programs, because the strength of a leading University relies on strong graduates working with the world’s best faculty.

And, finally, Brown is committed to expanding financial aid. We are proud to be a need-blind institution that admits students without regard to their financial need, but we know that the lowest-income students don’t have the same opportunities to pursue low- or non-paid internships, or can’t travel home for breaks or enjoy some of the same social opportunities as their peers. And we are looking at increasing support for middle-income students to ensure broader access to a Brown education.

Brown’s accomplishments over the past year and its vision for the future reflect the spirit of Brown—independence, creativity, resourcefulness. It characterizes Brown over the past 250 years, and it will do so in the future. I am honored by the privilege of being Brown’s president.

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Related Issue
July/August 2015