The Corporation of Brown University has accepted a gift that will support the new Brown University Humanities Initiative. The Corporation also toured two new capital projects and formally accepted gifts totaling more than $36 million.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The Corporation of Brown University today formally accepted a gift of $3 million that will support a new humanities initiative. The Brown Humanities Initiative will include recruiting six new internationally pre-eminent senior scholars within the next three years, and establishing the Brown Humanities Initiative Fund that will, among other things, launch a series of multiyear research seminars.

“The Brown Humanities Initiative is an exciting new project growing directly out of the University’s foundational strengths in the humanities,” said Brown President Ruth J. Simmons. “This initiative builds on significant recent investments the University has made and is an affirmation that the knowledge, skills, and habits of perception developed by studies in the humanities are of growing utility and importance in our 21st-century global culture.”

The gift will build upon investments the University has made and will continue to make in the humanities as part of its Plan for Academic Enrichment. The Humanities Initiative Fund established through this gift will:

  • provide each of the six new scholars and existing faculty with a higher degree of flexibility in their teaching, including instruction offered through the Cogut Center for the Humanities;
  • launch a series of multiyear research seminars, developed by the six senior scholars and current faculty and designed to draw many international figures to the Brown campus for deliberation and debate;
  • foster the development of interdisciplinary graduate and undergraduate programs that would train scholars with facility in multiple languages and more than one discipline..

“Brown has been making significant investments in the humanities, including the Cogut Center and various international postdoctoral programs, and we have always set our sights higher,” said Michael Steinberg, director of the Cogut Center for the Humanities. “Recruiting pre-eminent scholars both to humanities departments and as innovators on a University-wide level will help the University achieve new levels of collaboration and undertake academic initiatives of international significance.”

Capital projects

During the weekend of their fall meeting, members of the Corporation celebrated two significant capital projects.

The Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center was officially dedicated at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1. The ceremony included remarks by President Simmons, Chancellor Thomas J. Tisch, Chancellor Emeritus Stephen Robert, and several student leaders.

In service since late August to enthusiastic reviews, the $20-million Robert Center project has transformed Faunce House and given campus life at Brown the focal point it has long needed. The University’s Plan for Academic Enrichment made development of a campus center one of its highest priorities for campus life. (See news release on the dedication and a slide show of Robert’s first visit to the new center.)

Chancellor Tisch and President Simmons led the Corporation on a door-opening visit to Metcalf Laboratories, soon to be the new home of the Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences. Corporation members and other invited guests had a first-hand look at the $42-million renovations underway. Built as a chemistry laboratory in the 1920s, the 73,400-square-foot building will now provide laboratory, teaching, and office space for the new department — and allow for planned growth. (See news release on the Metcalf project.)

Committee reports

Trustees and fellows received various reports from the Corporation’s committees.

  • Endowment. The treasurer reported that the market value of the endowment stood at $2.180 billion on June 30, 2010. The endowment’s investment return for fiscal year 2010 was 10.2 percent. The five-year and 10-year returns were 4.6 percent and 6.2 percent respectively.
  • Campaign for Academic Enrichment. Campaign for Academic Enrichment. At the end of fiscal year 2010, Brown had reached $1.542 billion toward its upwardly revised goal of $1.6 billion. The Brown Annual Fund achieved an all-time high of $36 million, with 31,342 individual donors.
  • Campus housing. The Budget and Finance Committee approved funding for renovations, beginning next summer, to 315 Thayer St. to expand campus housing. Currently an apartment building, the project will result in a 66-bed dormitory within the residential hall system. The Facilities and Design Committee and the Committee on Campus Life have commissioned studies for housing renewal and modernization. The Corporation encouraged further work on expanding student housing capacity.

Gifts accepted

By University policy, all gifts of $1 million or more require formal acceptance by the Corporation. At its fall meeting, the Corporation accepted directly, or ratified acceptances made by its Advisory and Executive Committee, gifts totaling more than $36 million:

  • From anonymous donors, a gift of $15 million: $3.5 million for brain science, $3 million for the Humanities Initiative, $2.5 million for arts initiatives, $1 million for the Marine Biological Laboratory collaborative research initiatives, and $5 million pending donor designation in support of the Plan for Academic Enrichment.
  • From anonymous parents, a gift of $5 million: $3,000,000 for incremental faculty support for teaching focused on China, $900,000 for endowed scholarships, $100,000 for Brown Annual Fund Scholarships, $500,000 for the Greater China Fund (endowment), and $500,000 for the Greater China Fund (current use).
  • From the Suna and Inan Kiraç Foundation, a gift of $3 million: half for the Suna Kiraç Fellowship and Research Fund in Molecular Biology, specifically for research on neurogenerative disease, and half for the Kiraç Fund for Brain Science.
  • From the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a grant of $2,993,431 for the Annenberg Institute.
  • From anonymous donors, $2.5 million for the President’s Fund for Academic Initiative.
  • From His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, a gift of $2 million for a visiting professor of Islamic humanities.
  • From the Sol Goldman Charitable Trust, a gift of $2 million to establish the Sol Goldman Charitable Trust Professorship in International Studies and the Social Sciences, to be matched by the University with $2 million from the Estate of Thomas J. Watson Jr. ’37.
  • From an anonymous friend, a gift of $1.545 million for the Brown Annual Fund.
  • From parents of a member of the class of 2013, a gift of $1 million for a Brown Annual Fund Scholarship.
  • From Trustee Martin J. Granoff and Perry K. Granoff, parents of a 1993 graduate, a gift of $1 million to name the Kasper Multipurpose Room in the Stephen Robert ’62 Center.