Letters to the Editor

Letter: Philanthropy comes in many forms

Monday, September 19, 2016

To the Editor:

I read with interest Daniel Meyer’s Sept. 16 column on Urs Fischer’s “Untitled (Lamp/Bear)” on the Ruth J. Simmons Quadrangle.

While I know there has been a difference of views on the big blue bear in the community, I’ve come to appreciate the piece for its unexpected joyousness and for its marvelous siting 150 feet away from the replica of the Marcus Aurelius statue, given to Brown in 1908. The Fischer bear and its dialogue with the classical Roman statue serve to engender discussion both about the work itself and about how art and aesthetics evolve. These are worthy conversations to animate and engage our community.

The central point of Mr. Meyer’s argument is that the funds for the loan, all borne by Alexandra and Steven Cohen, would have been better spent in support of financial aid at Brown.

What Mr. Meyer’s article fails to mention is that the Cohens are among the University’s most generous benefactors. In fact, their gift of $30 million for undergraduate financial aid, given in 2009 at the depth of the financial crisis, is the second largest gift for financial aid in the University’s history. This extraordinary gift has already benefited hundreds of undergraduates — and is sure to create access to Brown for thousands more in the future.

I am proud to celebrate both the bear and the great generosity of the Cohens.

Thomas J. Tisch ’76 P’18

Former University chancellor

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