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Against the backdrop of a weakened economy, a shrunken endowment and a significantly diminished budget, the University's highest governing body is set to convene this weekend to evaluate the changes the University has undergone in the last year and determine if additional adjustments are needed.

The Corporation will focus its meeting on "stability and continuity," according to Chancellor Thomas Tisch '76, the University's highest officer and the Corporation's leader.

"This is not a meeting where one can expect a great number of actions on the budget, tuition and the like," he said.

The endowment lost roughly a quarter of its value in the recent financial crisis. In February, the Corporation responded by slashing $90 million from the budget for the next five years, implementing a hiring freeze and increasing the undergraduate, graduate and medical school tuitions by 3 percent.

The University is looking to cut an additional $30 million this fall from the originally projected amount for the next budget, which takes effect in July 2010, though that budget will still represent a small net increase from this year's. Final budget recommendations will be made at the Corporation's next meeting in February. 

"Overall, it's certainly in the context of what happened in last year's economy," said Russell Carey '91 MA'06, senior vice president for Corporation affairs and University governance. 
Still, he said this weekend's summit would be "a pretty standard October meeting," adding that "there's nothing they're doing about their schedule or subject that's particularly unusual." 

Recent developments that the Corporation will discuss include several capital projects currently underway and the University's plans to increase its presence in Providence's Jewelry District.

Despite the diminished budget for this fiscal year, the Corporation in February approved several major projects to move forward, making the construction of buildings such as the Center for the Creative Arts and Nelson Fitness Center and the renovation of Faunce House priorities.

The body also juggled the budget so two planned new projects — a brain science building and a medical education building — could be addressed by renovations instead of new construction.

Tisch said the Corporation plans to discuss the progress of capital projects and how they fit in with the University's future plans, especially as many are "moving forward at a much faster pace than we would have imagined last year."

"Last year at this time there was great uncertainty as to how we would complete the forward calendar of building projects," Tisch said. "Interestingly, in the midst of financial upheavals where many schools have been cancelling projects, we've been in the rare situation of green-lighting many projects." 

Rhode Island Hall — one such project that was midway through a major renovation before the economic slump — was completed this fall and will be rededicated Friday at 5:30 p.m. as the new home of the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World.
The rededication ceremony, to be attended by Corporation members, will include speeches by Tisch, President Ruth Simmons, Chancellor Emeritus Artemis Joukowsky '55 P'87 and Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein, Jordan's ambassador to the United States.

The Corporation will also include in its discussion of capital projects the University's plans to create a new medical education space by renovating a University-owned building in the Jewelry District, according to Carey. Construction at 222 Richmond St. is scheduled to begin in March.

Brown hopes to help develop the district and will hear this weekend from Frances Halsband — an architectural consultant to the Corporation who designed The Walk and other long-term physical projects — regarding her ideas to beautify the area with restored historic streetcars, widened sidewalks and greenery. 

Vice President of Public Affairs and University Relations Marisa Quinn said the Corporation's discussion is to "illustrate the ways, as we expand our presence in the Jewelry District, of being a positive contributing force in that area and in the city overall."

"We are acknowledging that we have a role to play in this ‘knowledge economy' initiative, and we seek to advance that effort," she said.

Carey said members of the Corporation will also continue to evaluate the progress of the Plan for Academic Enrichment — Simmons' wide-ranging blueprint for improving the University. 

While the weekend's schedule is largely the same as in past years, the structure of the Corporation will be different. A total of nine new members will join the board of trustees, and four new chairs will head major committees, including the body's budget, advancement, campus life and academic affairs committees, according to Tisch.

"On each of these areas there is revitalization, and interesting discussions that will probably take place," he said. 

This weekend will also mark the beginning of the Corporation's young alum trustee position, which was created in response to remarks from the Undergraduate Council of Students last year that the Corporation "had lost touch" with current students' needs, Tisch said. 

Lauren Kolodny '08, who was elected by the Corporation in May, will serve a three-year term as a trustee rather than the general six-year term for general members. She is the most recent graduate to serve on the Corporation in 40 years, as well as its youngest current member, Tisch said. 

The Corporation Weekend and Family Weekend are occurring at the same time this year, promising a busy set of days for the president and other administrators. 

While Simmons may be "more exhausted than usual" by the end, Tisch said he thought the weekend will overall "work very smoothly."


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