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Paxson outlines University responses to crises

University has offered to host scholars, students from University of Puerto Rico, Paxson says

Senior Reporter
Tuesday, October 3, 2017

President Christina Paxson P’19 outlined the University’s response to the hurricane in Puerto Rico and other recent crises at the faculty meeting Tuesday. A motion to establish a Master of Science in Global Public Health was also passed, and Provost Richard Locke presented updates on the budgets for fiscal years 2017 and 2018.

The University, along with other institutions in the Leadership Alliance, has offered to host scholars and students from the University of Puerto Rico, Paxson said.

Faculty members may be asked to volunteer housing for these academics and students should they decide to come to Brown, said Marisa Quinn, chief of staff to the provost.

In the wake of recent crises, “the most important thing we can do as a community is to make sure our undergraduate students are okay,” Paxson said, adding that the University has been paying special attention to “students from areas that suffered a lot of trauma.”

The Master of Science in Global Public Health will “emphasize public health in low- and middle-income countries” and “address global health inequities,” said Don Operario, professor of behavioral and social sciences and associate dean for academic affairs. The program, which was presented to the faculty after over two years of planning, will require 12 courses, a thesis and an eight-week fieldwork experience in a low- or middle-income country, Operario added.

A $3.7 million surplus is currently projected for the fiscal year 2018 budget, Locke said. This follows the surplus — rather than the expected deficit — that resulted from the fiscal year 2017 budget, he added. The endowment saw a 13.4 percent return for fiscal year 2017, said Joseph Dowling, chief investment officer.

The University hopes to grow the endowment by reducing the payout that Brown receives from it each year, Locke said. This growth is necessary because of the University’s dependence on tuition and fees, which account for over half of Brown’s revenue, he added. Currently, 36 percent of the University’s net tuition is used to cover expenses, as opposed to 23 percent at Dartmouth and 7 percent at Princeton, Locke said. A larger endowment will also lead to an increase in the percentage of faculty supported by it, he added.

Paxson also discussed alumni concerns regarding Brown Promise at the meeting. Though some alums have cited the moral value of debt, “If you have a student who’s looking at two offers of admission, one with loans and one without loans, telling them that they should come to Brown because it’s ‘good for their soul’ — it’s not going to work,” Paxson said.

Brown Promise will not affect the University’s commitment to its lowest income students, she added. Paxson also said she is aware that the pool of applicants Brown draws from is “skewed to the right” in terms of income. The University is focused on getting “applicants from the lower and middle parts of the income distribution to apply to Brown,” she added.

Paxson also outlined three new sustainability committees. A taskforce on climate change will “look at Brown’s business and investment practices” to create guidelines that privilege sustainability, while a second committee will explore the possibility of switching to greener sources of electricity, she said. The third committee will set new goals for sustainability that will tentatively begin in 2020 and be completed in 2035, Paxson added.

A biennial climate survey for faculty, staff and students that will be conducted for the first time this coming spring was also announced at the meeting.