University News

U. launches 250th anniversary website, releases opening weekend schedule

Initial celebrations will include a variety of notable alums, community events

By
Senior Staff Writer

President Christina Paxson announced details about the University’s semiquincentenary opening celebration and formally launched the website “Imagine Brown 250+” dedicated to the 250th anniversary in an email to the student body Tuesday afternoon. Scheduled to begin March 7-8, the University’s celebration will run through May 2015 and feature a variety of speakers, programs and performances.

The celebratory weekend’s date is not accidental, but “timed with the passage of (Brown’s) charter,” said Marisa Quinn, vice president of public affairs and university relations, adding “there have been students involved in every aspect of planning.”

To publicize the weekend’s events, the University is distributing news releases to a broad variety of local and regional newspapers, as well as employing radio announcements, advertisements and social media. There will also be “direct invitations to various communities,” including students, faculty members and alumni, Quinn said.

“We wanted to get the website up and filled with as many events as we could confirm,” though more elements — such as an interactive timeline — are still being developed, Quinn said. The University also plans to engage the global community by providing live streams of many of the celebratory events, she added. As of Wednesday morning, approximately 5,000 people had visited the website.

The University has collaborated with local leaders and organizations such as Save the Bay, Providence Public Schools and the Rhode Island Historical Society while organizing the anniversary’s events, Quinn said.
By hosting a variety of events, the University hopes to “attract the broader community,” in addition to students and faculty members, she said.

Paxson announced two notable alums — Jim Yong Kim ’82 M.D., Ph.D., President of the World Bank and Thomas Perez ’83, U.S. Secretary of Labor — will be speaking on March 7 and 8 respectively. Additionally, more than 250 seventh and eighth grade students from Rhode Island will undergo basic academic instruction on Friday morning before having lunch in the Sharpe Refectory, the website noted.
The website’s calendar details 29 events over Friday and Saturday, including art exhibits and basketball games.

Though there is a high concentration of celebratory events during the opening weekend in March, many other events — some of which the University began developing more than a year ago — are planned for the coming months.

“I try to tell the story in a way that situates Brown in its local and national context,” said Edward Widmer, assistant for special projects to President Paxson. Widmer’s book, detailing Brown’s history from 1764 to the present, is expected to be published this fall. Though the book is designed for “general readership,” Widmer said he hopes a broad audience of faculty members, community members and students will find the material engaging.

“I’ve been pleased to see that all of the founding language, as old as it is, still resonates with modern relevance,” Widmer said, adding that many of Brown’s “special qualities,” such as constructive irreverence, an unwillingness to conform, excellence in teaching and a commitment to respectfully considering all points of view, endure today.

The University’s commitment to distinguishing itself from other colonial educational institutions such as Harvard and Yale by “(getting) away from orthodoxy” still rings true, he said. In terms of defining itself as a free-thinking institution, “Brown has certainly lived up to that (reputation),” Widmer added.

  • Brown Alum

    Memo to Ted Widmer: Ray Kelly called me this morning to say that he’s amused by your statement that one of Brown’s “special qualities” that “endures today” is “a commitment to respectfully considering all points of view.” He asked what rock you’ve been living under the past number of years as he and other “conservative” speakers (i.e., anyone who does not tow the leftist line) have gotten eaten alive by Brown students who preach “social justice,” peace and tolerance of others but hypocritically and shamefully will not tolerate the expression of views that differ from, or are contrary to, their own views. Perhaps it’s the liberal fog that may cloud your vision, but have you noticed that their conduct constitutes anything but “constructive irreverence.” It’s nothing less than intellectual fascism. One of the central missions of a university is to promote the free and open expression of ideas in order to foster intellectual growth and facilitate solutions or answers to challenging intellectual, social, scientific and other issues. After 250 years, it’s time for the university rigorously to enforce the free and open expression of ideas on campus and forcefully punish those students who act to interfere with or deny campus speakers that First Amendment right. Any less of a response would be unfaithful to Brown’s founding principles. And, Mr. Widmer, any institution that condones intellectual thuggery by permitting, year after year, only one political perspective to prevail and be tolerated on campus has forfeited the right to call itself “a free-thinking institution.”

  • brown student

    LOL