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Corporation approves sites for two new buildings

The Corporation, the University's top governing body, this weekend approved the locations of two major capital construction projects, formally accepted over $12.5 million in gifts, discussed the ongoing review of the undergraduate College and considered a reassessment of Brown's strategic plans. In addition, University officials announced the appointment of Brown's first vice president for international affairs.

As the new vice president, David Kennedy '76, a Harvard Law School professor and expert on international law, will oversee the Watson Institute for International Studies and lead the University's efforts to internationalize its teaching, research and reputation.

In addition to Kennedy's appointment, the Corporation discussed internationalization in general during its regular October meeting, speaking with University officials about how to spark campus conversation on the topic, build international partnerships and give research a global focus.

Kennedy's appointment fulfills one of the primary recommendations of the University's internationalization committee. Though his job officially begins in January, the addition of an official to President Ruth Simmons' cabinet who focuses solely on international initiatives will likely quicken the pace of Brown's efforts to globalize.

Dean of the Faculty Rajiv Vohra P'07 spoke to the Corporation about trends in faculty hiring, the five-year, 15-percent increase in the number of professors and the strength of minority hiring efforts.

In addition, the Corporation took steps to begin administering the $10-million Fund for the Education of the Children of Providence, established in February in response to October 2006 recommendations from the University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice. Three Corporation members - Chancellor Emeritus Artemis Joukowsky '55 P'87, Vice Chancellor Emeritus Marie Langlois '64 and former Brown Alumni Association President Hanna Rodriguez-Farrar '87 MA'90 - will oversee the fund.

The endowment, designed to support Providence public schools, will immediately begin making grants thanks to a $250,000 gift from an anonymous donor to build its principal.

In its strategic discussion session, Corporation members heard from Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron about the ongoing review of the undergraduate College that the Task Force for Undergraduate Education is undertaking. The task force is expected to have specific recommendations ready by February.

Corporation members also discussed the reorganization of the Office of the Dean of the College, which has consolidated fellowship and pre-professional advising and focused more on centralized upperclassman advising. During Bergeron's tenure as Brown's top undergraduate academic officer, four highly experienced deans were fired or resigned, though it is not clear whether this was discussed by the Corporation.

Bergeron did not respond to an e-mail request for comment Saturday.

Along similar lines, Corporation members and student leaders dined together Friday night to discuss the state of undergraduate education. Elliott Maxwell '68 P'06 and Ira Magaziner '69 P'06 P'07 P'10, fathers of the New Curriculum, spoke about the future of learning.

Also during Friday's strategic discussion, Simmons spoke about her belief that the University must re-evaluate its growth priorities, first laid out in 2002 as the Plan for Academic Enrichment, which has guided her presidency thus far. Simmons said as much in a faculty meeting earlier this month, though University officials told The Herald last week they did not expect her to address the matter with the Corporation until its February meeting.

"I expressed my belief that it is timely to consider the plan and determine whether we are pursuing the right combination of initiatives to ensure Brown remains on its current trajectory, offering programs of international distinction," Simmons wrote in a campus-wide e-mail. "We will return to the Corporation in February with suggestions of how we might continue to achieve desired results for Brown."

Simmons' desire to re-evaluate the strategy laid out near the beginning of her presidency comes as the Corporation is already spending significant time discussing matters not in the original plan, including a wholesale review of the undergraduate College, a commitment to internationalization and the construction of facilities that few in 2002 expected the University would build.

In other business, the Corporation approved 154 Angell St., just west of the Brown Bookstore, as the new site for the Creative Arts Center. The $45-million, 35,000-square foot fundraising juggernaut is expected to have a 250-seat recital hall and screening facility, recording studio, multimedia lab, gallery space and facilities for interdisciplinary art, according to a University press release. Construction is slated to begin in spring 2009, with completion scheduled for late 2010.

Originally a cognitive and linguistic sciences building was planned for the space adjacent to the bookstore, but due to lagging donations and planning problems, its fate remains uncertain, The Herald reported Sept. 21.

Perhaps trying to breathe new life into the project, the Corporation approved a site for the newly dubbed "Mind Brain Behavior Building" on the south side of Angell Street between J. Walter Wilson Laboratory and the Walk, where the Urban Environmental Lab currently stands.

Boston-based architects Leers Weinzapfel Associates are designing the building, on which construction will begin once the University raises enough money, a University press release said.

Corporation members also decided to completely demolish the Smith Swim Center, which has been closed since February because of structural problems in its roof. Simmons told the faculty in September that there was a proposal to attach a new roof with "what look like flying buttresses," but Corporation members ultimately decided to build an entirely new aquatics facility.

The Corporation approved planning and design for a new aquatics center in May, to be designed in conjunction with the Nelson Fitness Center.

The issue of new housing, plans for which The Herald reported Thursday might have been slowed by the unexpected need for a new pool, remains undecided. According to Simmons' campus-wide e-mail, the Corporation wants planning to continue for housing renovation and has asked University officials to prepare a cost-benefit analysis of new dorms in time for their February meeting.

The Corporation also conducted some usual business, including establishing three new professorships - one each in history, psychology and Africana studies - and formally accepting gifts to the University of greater than $1 million.

Those gifts included $5 million for theater arts and the Brown Annual Fund, $1 million for a new pool, about $1 million for post-doctoral fellowships in the Political Theory Project and $2.5 million for the Creative Arts Building. In addition, Chancellor Thomas Tisch '76 - in his first meeting presiding over the governing body - and his wife donated an undisclosed amount to endow five new professorships.


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