PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The Corporation of Brown University today approved the establishment of two professorships to be known as the Jonathan Nelson Professorships. Initiated by a gift from Jonathan M. Nelson, CEO and founder of Providence Equity Partners, the Nelson professorships will provide endowed positions for eminent scholars and teachers who exemplify the excellence and dedication associated with the University-College model for which Brown is known.
Nelson Professors, to be awarded by recommendation of the deans and provost to the president for ultimate approval by the Corporation, will recognize faculty members in any discipline whose excellence in scholarship and teaching places them among the world’s best in their area. Additional Nelson Professorships will be created over time, making it a premier faculty excellence program at the University.
Nelson, a 1977 graduate of the Department of Economics and lead donor of the Nelson Fitness Center, expressed the desire to focus his future gifts to Brown in an area that would make the greatest difference in the continued quality of its academic programs. “Enjoying the privilege in business of working with talented CEOs and their teams, I am constantly reminded that knowledge, expertise, and leadership of senior employees can make all the difference in how an enterprise thrives over time,” Nelson said. “I wanted to commit to assisting in making sure that Brown continues to have access to the finest scholars on a global basis well into the future.”
Nelson Professors will be encouraged to work in interdisciplinary areas that are generating innovative scholarship and teaching. In that regard, the deans are encouraged to approve periodically the allocation of Nelson Professors’ time to the development of new work.
Election of a trustee
During Saturday’s business meeting, the Corporation welcomed new trustee George H. Billings, a 1972 graduate of Brown and president of the Brown Alumni Association. Billings, who was serving as the BAA’s president-elect, assumed the presidency after the tragic death of BAA President Joseph Fernandez in mid-December. Billings had been scheduled to succeed Fernandez and thus to join the Corporation in July 2011. The Corporation elected him to the Board of Trustees immediately to ensure continuity; the BAA president serves as an alumnus trustee while in office.
Billings, of Falmouth, Mass., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is president of Billings & Co., a management consulting firm serving both Fortune 500 and development-stage companies. A pioneering executive in the cellular telephone and satellite television industries in the United States and Latin America, Billings developed and implemented strategies that drive those businesses today. He has served on the boards of directors of many private and public companies, including Avid Technology.
For Brown, Billings has served as secretary of the BAA Board of Governors, chair of its Student Alumni Connections Task Force, member of the BAA Careers and Networking Committee, president of the Association of Class Leaders, vice chair for the University’s successful $1.61-billion comprehensive campaign, an interviewer for the Brown Alumni Schools Committees (BASC), and a member of the Brown Annual Fund Executive Committee. He has also been involved in education for entrepreneurship, serving as co-chair of the Brown entrepreneurship funding initiative and board member of the student-run Brown University Entrepreneurship Program. In 2002, Billings received the BAA’s Alumni Service Award and, in 2008, the Brown Bear Award.
Billings will serve as an alumnus trustee through June 30, 2017.
As part of an ongoing discussion about the University's tenure policy, the Corporation requested that the administration provide a report by October 2011 on the best practices for hiring, evaluating and mentoring faculty and a plan for incorporating appropriate changes in Brown's procedures. The Corporation also requested that the administration present a specific proposal for the ranges of faculty tenure ratios appropriate for ongoing refreshment of the faculty and a set of measures to keep Brown within those ranges.
The Corporation continued discussions, which had begun on campus last year during an organizational review process, regarding the role of and support for athletics at Brown. The Corporation requested that the administration prepare a plan that articulates a vision for athletics consistent with Brown’s principles of excellence in academics and campus life, setting forth goals and objectives as well as a timeline and action plan. A preliminary plan was requested in time for discussion by the Corporation and its Campus Life Committee in May 2011.
Endowed positions established
The Corporation established a number of new professorships and endowed administrative positions:
- The Intrepid Heroes Professorship in Orthopaedic Surgery in the Warren Alpert Medical School, a gift of Diane N. Weiss honoring all returning members of the U.S. military who have served our country with honor and sacrifice;
- The Frances Weeden Gibson-Edward A. Iannuccilli, M.D., Professorship In Emergency Medicine in the Warren Alpert Medical School, a gift of the estate of Frances W. Gibson;
- A professorship in China Studies, a gift of an anonymous donor;
- A visiting professorship in economics, a gift of an anonymous donor;
- The Broadbent Family Head Coaching Chair for Squash Racquets, a gift of Brown parents William S. and Camille W. Broadbent;
- A head coaching chair in men’s crew, a gift of Trustee Norman W. Alpert, a 1980 Brown graduate and Brown parent, A. Richard Caputo Jr. of the Class of 1988;
- An endowed head coaching chair in baseball, a gift of an anonymous donor;
- The Steel Family Assistant Coaching Chair in Squash, a gift of the Steel Family, parents of two Brown graduates;
- The “Gratitude” Assistant Coaching Chair for Women’s Crew, a gift of Kathryn Quadracci Flores, M.D. , a 1990 graduate, and the Friends of Brown Women’s Crew;
- The Aga Khan Visiting Professorship in Islamic Humanities, a gift of Prince Karim Aga Khan. The Khan Professorship was approved earlier by the Advisory and Executive Committee of the Corporation and ratified by the Corporation today.
Acceptance of Gifts
By University policy, all gifts of $1 million or more require formal acceptance by the Corporation. At its Saturday business meeting, the Corporation accepted or ratified previous acceptance of a number of gifts totaling $14.8 million. These include:
- From Brown parents Kenneth R. Fitzsimmons Jr., trustee emeritus and a 1968 graduate, and Jane Z. Fitzsimmons, a gift of $3.5 million: $3 million for financial aid; $250,000 to the Brown Annual Fund; and $250,000 to the head coaching chair for men’s lacrosse;
- From anonymous donors, a gift of $3 million: $1 million for a postdoctoral fellowship in environmental studies; $625,000 for five endowed Brown Environmental Fellowships; $500,000 for a current-use postdoctoral fellowship; $500,000 for the Brown Annual Fund; $250,000 for a flexible research fund; and $125,000 current-use support of Brown Environmental Fellowships;
- From an anonymous donor, a gift of $2,612,500;
- From Santander Universidades Foundation (Banco Santander of Spain), a gift of $1.68 million to support programs in the Brown International Advanced Research Institutes;
- From Zachary J. Schreiber, a 1995 graduate, and Lori F. Schreiber, a gift of $1 million: $600,000 for the Schreiber Family Scholarship Fund; $150,000 for the head coaching chair in men’s lacrosse; $125,000 for the Schreiber Family Brown Annual Fund Scholarship; and $125,000 for the Friends of the Watson Institute;
- From Trustee Thomas E. Rothman, a 1976 graduate and Brown parent, a gift of $1 million;
- From Vice Chancellor Jerome C. Vascellaro and Mary E. Vascellaro, 1974 graduates and Brown parents, a gift of $1 million;
- From anonymous Brown parents, a gift of $1 million.
- From Trustee Emeritus Robert J. Carney, a 1961 graduate, and Nancy D. Carney, a gift of $1 million for The Robert J. Carney and Nancy D. Carney Fund for Scientific Innovation.