University News

Our Courageous Military
Brown grows its student-veteran population

By Christina Paxson / June–August 2022
June 8th, 2022

I recently had the privilege of attending the 81st Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Presidents’ Review at the College of the Holy Cross. The ceremony, which took place in late April just before writing this column, brings together the NROTC communities from Brown, Holy Cross, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Worcester State College to recognize the outstanding cadets who have earned exceptional distinctions in academics, leadership, and extracurricular areas. Brown’s four NROTC cadets are outstanding students who are excelling in all of these areas.

Taking part in this tradition gave me an opportunity to reflect on how Brown’s commitment to military-affiliated students has grown in recent years. Ten years ago, when I arrived at Brown, there was a very small yet dedicated military-affiliated community on campus. Our annual Veterans Day ceremony included just a couple of handfuls of people.

Today, we have nearly 80 student veterans (including undergraduate, graduate, and medical students) and nearly another 40 ROTC cadets who will go on to serve our country. We’ve seen this incredible growth because of the initiative Brown has taken in recent years to support student veterans and military-affiliated students.

I’m proud of this growth in Brown’s military-affiliated student population. The more that we do to support this segment of our community, the stronger we are as a University. Our student veterans bring distinct life experiences and perspectives from their time in the military to the broader student body. Their viewpoints add depth and dimension in the classroom and across student life on campus. All of our military-affiliated students are remarkable because of how they approach their time at Brown and what they hope to accomplish as students, professionals, and citizens.

Our student veterans bring distinct life experiences and perspectives from their time
in the military to the broader student body.

With this perspective in mind, in 2019 we announced a new initiative to more than double the number of U.S. military veterans on campus through
a number of actions. This included adopting a need-blind admission policy for veterans, which eliminates from admission decisions any consideration of an applicant’s ability to pay tuition.

In 2020, we celebrated an incredibly generous $20 million gift from Joseph P. Healey, a U.S. Army veteran and Brown parent, in support of scholarships for veterans. This gift marked a major step toward our goal of providing full financial support to current and future generations of student veterans. At the same time, we have significantly expanded ROTC opportunities for students, formally renewing partnerships with the Navy and Air Force in 2016.

Military-affiliated students at Brown have not always seen this level of support. In response to the Vietnam War, ROTC was removed from Brown’s campus (and the campuses of many other institutions) as anti-war sentiments swelled across the nation. That policy continued for years, extending into protest of the military’s ban on openly gay service members. Today, we acknowledge that, at times, the policies and practices of the military raise complex and contentious issues, as is the case for many segments of the public sector and civil society. But we recognize that the principles of military service are always noble and courageous, and that unyielding dedication deserves our appreciation and respect.

At Brown, we often talk about the importance of academic freedom and freedom of expression—ideals that allow us to learn, express ideas, pursue truth, and live in peace. It’s these core freedoms that our military strives to protect. My hope is that by providing essential support and dedicated resources to this population, Brown will continue to attract more students who have served or who are interested in serving our country. Doing so will promote greater understanding and strengthen our entire Brown community.

Read the June–August 2022 President's Spread on “Accelerating Cancer Discovery” here (PDF). 

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June–August 2022