Letters to the Editor, Opinions

Letter: On Brown’s budget

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

To the Editor:

I appreciate the perspectives shared in Lainie Rowland’s ’17 column (“Questioning the Budget,” Feb. 15) and welcome the opportunity to clarify a few points. The fiscal year 2018 budget, which was developed by the broad-based, representative University Resources Committee, advances the University’s core mission and strategic priorities in a fiscally sustainable way. As noted in the column, deliberate efforts were made this year to protect and grow the endowment, which is essential for the long-term financial health of the University. The budget also calls for increases in tuition and fees — a decision we take very seriously, recognizing the impact on students and families. We also remain fully committed to need-blind admission and to meeting the full demonstrated financial need of every student admitted to Brown.

The FY18 budget strikes a balance, ensuring Brown’s long-term fiscal health and the need for continued investment in the people and programs that are central to our academic mission. It increases undergraduate financial aid by nearly 4 percent over last year’s actual budget. This is important: The 1.3 percent increase cited in the column refers to the increase of the projected FY18 budget over the projected FY17 budget for financial aid. Because we are need blind, we cannot be precise in determining how much financial aid will be needed in a given year. In FY17, Brown spent $117.5 million on undergraduate aid — less than projected — and we have budgeted $122.1 million in FY18, an increase of approximately 4 percent. This follows a steady increase in aid over more than a decade.

The budget also ensures our capacity to strengthen graduate student stipends and supports modest increases in salaries and benefits to ensure our ability to recruit and reward talented faculty and staff. It advances academic excellence by investing in the facilities, tools and equipment needed to promote scholarship and continues our commitment to diversity and inclusion. While the URC report highlights an additional $1.5 million in support of the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, total spending included in the FY18 budget to continue progress on the plan in the year ahead is approximately $5.2 million. This is in addition to $3.35 million in one-time spending planned for FY18 to advance our goals, and builds on the more than $8 million committed in the current year.

The FY18 budget is part of a multi-year financial plan designed to position the University to achieve the aspirations outlined in the Building on Distinction strategic plan.  The various revenue streams — tuition and fees, sponsored research funding, endowment payout and fundraising — all contribute to this undertaking.

Ultimately, our goal is to meet the current needs of a world-class institution of higher education and to place us on the solid financial footing required to do so for generations to come.


Provost Richard Locke