News, University News

Faculty discusses community outreach

U. focuses on obtaining H-1B visas for new hires, setting aside research funds in case of cuts

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 7, 2017

President Christina Paxson P’19 and Provost Richard Locke outlined University responses to President Trump’s most recent immigration ban and the suspension of premium processing for H-1B visas at the faculty meeting Tuesday. Locke also presented the budget for fiscal year 2018, and faculty members discussed community outreach efforts.

The suspension of fast-tracking H-1B visas, which will go into effect April 3 and could last for six months, will have the greatest impact on pending Brown faculty and staff hires who do not already have H-1B visas, Locke said. “If an H-1B visa sponsorship is needed for a pending hire with a start date in September, then we have to get on this right away,” he added.

The University will also address concerns about future government reduction in research funding by identifying the most vulnerable research grants and putting aside funds to supplement them should cuts occur, Locke said.

The newest executive order concerning immigration is — like the original — contrary to the University’s values, Paxson said. “Our purpose is still to bring the best and brightest people around the world to Brown,” she added.

Stepping down from a national perspective and looking to Providence, faculty members engaged in small group discussions to brainstorm strategies to unify and strengthen community outreach efforts. “There’s just this wide diversity of things that faculty are doing,” Paxson said. “My concern with (outreach), frankly, is that it’s so broad and so scattered that our impact is not as great as it might be,” if the University focused on specific areas and combined forces, she added.

The discussions contributed to a larger evaluation of the University’s ongoing contributions to the Providence community spearheaded by Albert Dahlberg, assistant vice president of government and community relations. The evaluation includes a working group and an online survey to capture the involvement of faculty, staff and students beyond Brown, Dahlberg said.

Faculty discussed involving community members and entities in decisions about the needs of the community to ensure that engagement efforts actually benefit Providence. The Swearer Center recently organized “a community partnerships unit of three professionals who are out in the community on a daily basis,” said Mathew Johnson, director of the Swearer Center and associate dean for engaged scholarship. The center is also launching Brown Engage, an online platform for tracking and documenting students who have participated in engaged learning programs, he added.

Paxson also announced that Andrew Campbell, dean of the graduate school and professor of medical science, and his colleagues succeeded in renewing the University’s Initiative for Maximizing Student Development grant for another five years.

Locke addressed the recent developments in graduate student unionization. Though the administration has not received a petition to unionize from graduate students, the University maintains that “this is a decision that the graduate students make,” Locke said. “We want to create an environment where people can have a fair and well-informed debate,” he added. To that end, a letter will be sent out to faculty and staff members to ensure they do not inadvertently sway graduate students toward or away from unionization, Locke said.