PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Citing a record of success in strengthening Brown’s sustained academic excellence, the Corporation of Brown University has appointed Christina Paxson to a second five-year term as the University’s president, extending her tenure as Brown’s leader through June 30, 2022.
In a letter sent to the Brown community on Thursday, Feb. 2, announcing Paxson’s reappointment, Chancellor Samuel M. Mencoff asserted the Corporation’s confidence in Paxson, who arrived at Brown in 2012.
“While this wonderful news comes at a time of heightened uncertainty in federal policy relating to American higher education, the Corporation could not be more confident that President Paxson’s steady hand, clear vision, energetic leadership and boundless passion for Brown will continue to move the University forward with vigor and purpose,” the chancellor wrote.
He noted the early success of Building on Distinction, a strategic plan launched in 2014 that is shaping the growth and progress of the University into the next decade and beyond.
“The resounding success of President Paxson’s first term has put Brown firmly on course to achieve the important and inspiring ambition that she has set for the University — to pursue Brown's mission at a higher level of distinction and to elevate Brown’s stature as a leading university that unites innovative teaching and outstanding research with the aim of advancing knowledge in ways that serve society,” Mencoff stated.
Among an extensive list of accomplishments since Paxson’s arrival, Mencoff commended her work in creating new opportunities for collaboration in teaching, research and scholarship across the academic disciplines. He highlighted the opening of the School of Public Health; the launch of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society and the Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute; a revitalized and expanded Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs; and a suite of new graduate programs.
Mencoff noted that as president, Paxson has worked to build a stronger and more inclusive university community, leading the campus-wide effort that resulted in Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion, an action plan released in February 2016 aimed at creating a more diverse and inclusive community in support of Brown’s mission of education and discovery.
Paxson has also succeeded in building Brown’s financial resources, Mencoff said. In October 2015 she launched the BrownTogether comprehensive campaign — at $3 billion, the University’s largest to date — to build investment in Brown’s priorities and build upon the University’s impact in society and the world. Paxson has overseen a 21.6 percent increase in the endowment as well as significant growth in annual research activity (to $181 million for fiscal year 2016).
Mencoff also noted the success of innovations such as the Engaged Scholars Program, which links the classroom and the community, the Johnathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship, and the BrownConnect mentoring and internship platform.
As Brown’s 19th president, Paxson has continually expanded financial support for students, with a particular emphasis on increased aid for low- and middle-income students. With Brown undergraduates leading the way, the University launched the First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center in 2016.
“President Paxson has led Brown with wisdom, sensitivity and balance in confronting difficult issues facing institutions of higher education in ways that have positioned Brown as a national model,” Mencoff asserted. “At the same time, she has built closer collaborations with the City of Providence and the State of Rhode Island, and has established Brown as a hub of entrepreneurship, innovation and economic growth.”
Paxson, who was sworn in as president July 2, 2012, said the commitment and passion of the Brown community to the University’s mission has made it a privilege to lead the institution.
“It has been a pure joy to work with and learn from Brown students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents, and to become part of the Rhode Island community,” Paxson said. “The progress we have made together over the past five years builds on Brown’s distinctive approach to academic inquiry — open-minded, rigorous, collaborative and creative — and our deep commitment to education and research that serves society. I have deep love for this University, and it continues to be my honor and privilege to be part of this community and to serve Brown.”
Beyond her role as president, Paxson serves as a professor of economics and international and public affairs at Brown. She is nationally recognized as a leader in higher education and a respected economist and public health expert. Her most recent research is focused on the relationship of economic factors to health and welfare over the life course, particularly on the health and welfare of children.
Prior to her appointment at Brown, Paxson was dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs and the Hughes Rogers Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University. While at Princeton, she was the founding director of a National Institute on Aging Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging. In 2000, she founded the Center for Health and Wellbeing in the Woodrow Wilson School, for which served as the director until 2009.
She has been the principal investigator on a number of research projects supported by the National Institutes of Health, authored or co-authored numerous journal articles, was elected vice president of the American Economic Association in 2012, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In January 2016, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston named Paxson to its board of directors.
Paxson is a 1982 honors graduate of Swarthmore College, Phi Beta Kappa, and earned her graduate degrees in economics at Columbia University (M.A., 1985; Ph.D., 1987).