PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — In an evening celebration on Pembroke Field Friday, Oct. 23, Brown’s senior leaders and members of the campus community gathered to launch the $3-billion BrownTogether campaign, the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in Brown University history.
The campaign will support investments in people, innovative education and research, and initiatives in campus infrastructure and student life, enabling Brown to realize the goals of Building on Distinction, the strategic plan that will guide the University’s growth and development well into the next decade.
“The $3 billion we raise during this campaign will be transformative for the students we educate, the research we advance, and the impact Brown will make on the world,” President Christina Paxson said. “Brown is well known for its academic strength and innovative approach to education with our open curriculum, as well as our leadership in research. Our aim is to move Brown to a new level of excellence, with specific investments in areas of education and research that demand greater depth and scale, and which are important to society.”
A priority of the campaign is to increase support for addressing important world issues through research and scholarship in areas outlined as “integrative themes” in Building on Distinction. The themes stress collaboration across different fields of study to tackle complex challenges.
“In the future, the world will see Brown as a place that brings diverse perspectives to bear on very important issues,” Paxson said. “We’ll contribute in significant ways to unlock the mysteries of the human brain, cultivate new forms of creative expression, decipher disease and promote access to high-quality public health. We’ll also develop novel approaches to environmental sustainability, and explore innovative solutions to poverty and security challenges. We’ll be focusing on how to make the world a more peaceful and prosperous place. Brown will be known as the university where innovative teaching and research addressing these major challenges is integral to everything we do.”
Both the scale of Brown’s future investments and their focus on innovative educational and research programs that blend intellectual rigor and interdisciplinary inquiry will “transform the University and magnify Brown’s impact locally, nationally and internationally,” said Provost Richard Locke.
“Brown’s approach is to bring together students and faculty from different disciplines, different perspectives, and different methodologies, because we believe that no single discipline or single area of expertise is sufficient to address some of the world’s most complex issues,” Locke said. “Just think about climate change. If we are to make progress on climate change, we can’t look only to science. We can’t look only to public policy. We can’t look only to studies of human behavior. We have to bring all of these different ideas and perspectives to bear on the issue.”
Another focus of the campaign will be strengthening financial aid for undergraduates and graduate students, allowing Brown to continue to attract and support the very best and brightest students, as well as investing in endowed professorships to attract and retain leading scholars and researchers. The campaign also will support the goal of doubling the number of faculty at Brown from historically underrepresented groups.
Facilities improvements will support academics and athletics, and the campaign will fund an array of programs supporting students, including those who are the first in their families to attend college. The campaign will help fund educational innovations that include enhancements to the Brown curriculum through a new Learning Commons to support core competencies, the Engaged Scholars Program that stresses learning while doing, and entrepreneurship education.
“The BrownTogether campaign theme speaks to the ways in which students, faculty and staff are linked in all endeavors at Brown and will work together to achieve the campaign’s bold goals,” Paxson said. The $3-billion fundraising goal of the campaign comprises:
- $1.1 billion: Investing in people
Endowed chairs to increase and better support faculty teaching and research; improvements in undergraduate financial aid to bring the best students to Brown regardless of need; funds for graduate and medical fellowships; and support for diversity initiatives throughout the University.
- $900 million: Investing in education and research
Research and scholarship for students and faculty in the integrative themes; a Learning Commons; more and varied internships and research opportunities for students; support for engaged scholarship; and continued growth and development of entrepreneurship and innovation programs.
- $600 million: Investing in campus and community
A new building for the School of Engineering; a new center for the performing arts; renovation of athletics facilities; innovative and broader implementation of instructional and research technology; improved libraries, laboratories, and research infrastructure; and student support services and other campus life priorities.
- $400 million: Investing in the Brown Annual Fund
Ensuring that Brown can make immediate investments in strategic areas — and that the University will have the capacity to address pressing needs as they arise — through gifts not designated for a specific use.
Starting from strength
The audience of 300 University faculty, student and staff leaders, members of the Corporation of Brown University, alumni volunteers, and Brown guests who gathered Friday evening on Pembroke Field learned that BrownTogether has already raised a “nucleus fund” of approximately $950 million. The nucleus fund includes gifts from more than 40,000 donors, including 10 donors who each have given $25 million or more to this campaign. These gifts are already at work, realizing priorities of BrownTogether.
A Strong Start
Late Thursday afternoon, many of the assembled guests attended a groundbreaking ceremony for an $88-million new state-of-the-art building for the School of Engineering. The new building — made possible by early campaign gifts totaling more than $100 million for both the school and programmatic initiatives — features 20 laboratory modules, designed to facilitate work by the larger multidisciplinary research teams that address today’s challenges in renewable energy, global health, engineering on the nanoscale, and biomedical engineering.
“The investments in engineering will position us to remain on the leading edge of engineering research,” said Larry Larson, Brown’s Sorensen Family Dean of Engineering and Rush C. Hawkins University Professor of Engineering. “We’re working in new and innovative ways, recognizing that research in engineering has moved away from the macroscale — with a focus on giant, lumbering machines — to the nanoscale, a transition that requires new kinds of facilities, equipment and spaces.”
Another major area of fundraising has focused on the Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International and Public Affairs. The Watson Institute is celebrating new gifts totaling more than $80 million to support its growing programs and faculty, including a new $50-million gift from a consortium of three donors. The Watson Institute is focused on promoting peace, prosperity and justice in the world, and its programs on security and development — as well as various regional studies — will all benefit from the early success of the campaign.
“The new gifts to Watson, made early in the BrownTogether campaign, will allow expansion and enrichment of research and policy studies that are essential to addressing 21st-century global challenges effectively.” said Locke, who is the outgoing director of the Watson Institute after assuming the role of University provost in July.
Exceptional leadership from a dozen co-chairs
Twelve co-chairs, all of whom have extensive experience as current or former members of the Brown Corporation or as alumni volunteers, will help the University seek support nationally and internationally for the goals of BrownTogether. Their work, already well underway during the silent phase of the campaign, will ensure that all areas of the University and all members of the Brown community will benefit from the University’s new capabilities and enhanced resources.
“A comprehensive campaign is exactly that — a way to catalyze collaborative activities across the University,” said Brown University Chancellor Thomas J. Tisch. “The promise of BrownTogether is the promise of Brown University itself: a commitment to discovery and new knowledge as a way to address contemporary global challenges, as well as dedication to excellence in the overall experience we offer to students.”
The co-chairs were announced as part of the campaign celebration kickoff event Friday that featured faculty presentations, dance and spoken word performances by students, an original music composition written for the occasion, and remarks from Paxson and other senior leaders.
The celebration of BrownTogether punctuated the regular schedule of October meetings of the Brown Corporation, which included meetings between Corporation members and students and a discussion of the University’s strategic priorities.
In addition to the kickoff celebration and the engineering groundbreaking, other events showcasing the strengths of Brown contributed to a full weekend celebration. This included recognition of the renewal of the National Science Foundation grant that supports the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics and afternoon forums presenting innovative faculty and their work. Continuing the celebration, a dance Saturday, Oct. 24, will bring students together for a late-night celebration of the campaign, and Brown’s faculty and staff will gather next week, on Oct. 28, for a campaign breakfast.
“What truly excites me about this campaign is to envision the end goal,” Paxson said. “For me, we’re answering the big question, how can students prepare for a world that is changing rapidly, and where will the brightest, most talented students choose to go to make an impact on their communities and society? We want those students to decide, ‘To make a difference in the world, I want to go to Brown.’”