University News

Committee convenes to plan 250th anniversary

Contributing Writer
Tuesday, September 18, 2012

In preparation for the University’s 250th anniversary celebration in 2014, a steering committee has outlined goals for using the anniversary to examine both the University’s history and future. The committee has formed seven subcommittees that will focus on to different aspects of the celebration, including community engagement, anchor events and memorabilia. 

The anniversary, which will mark 250 years since the 1764 signing of Brown’s charter, will last from spring 2014 to Commencement in 2015. 

The celebration will be a “retrospective look at Brown’s history but also a prospective journey of what Brown’s future will look like,” said Ralph Rosenberg ’86, a member of the Corporation’s Board of Trustees and a co-chair of the steering committee. He added that a key objective for the committee is to engage University constituents from the local Providence and Rhode Island communities as well as the broader international body. 

The celebration will include two anchor events in the spring and fall of 2014, which will focus on Brown’s external community and campus community, respectively, said Russell Carey ’91, executive vice president for policy and planning. As previously reported, the anniversary will also feature an academic initiative that includes a new history of the University being written by University historian Jane Lancaster PhD’98, as well as a slavery and justice memorial that will be constructed according to recommendations made by the Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice. 

The anniversary steering committee is presently working on a budget for the celebrations that will be subject to approval by the Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, Rosenberg said. The anniversary will also “present a lot of opportunities for fundraising to take place,” Carey said.

The University named Eve Ornstedt, previously the director of career and admission programs for the Office of Alumni Relations, as the executive director of the University’s 250th anniversary. The 20-person committee, which is comprised of Corporation members, administration and staff, faculty and students, was formed in the spring of 2011 and has met several times since. 

“Having an individual lead up the effort was essential,” said Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations. The committee sought individuals who have an in-depth understanding of the University, Quinn said, and selected Ornstedt from a pool of over 50 applicants. Ornstedt is presently transitioning from her previous position and will work full-time as executive director starting Nov. 1. Ornstedt also headed last year’s 120th anniversary celebration of women at Brown.

In developing the position of executive director, the committee also sought guidance from six peer institutions, including Harvard, Princeton and Yale, all of which have achieved similar milestones in their establishments’ history. 

Committee members said the milestone of 250 years is one that very few institutions have experienced and marks a significant moment for the University.  

“I look forward to working with President (Christina) Paxson, the steering committee and members of the Brown community to make the celebration memorable, but also create content that has long-term impact,” Ornstedt said. 

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