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At open forum, students discuss 250th anniversary

Eight students talked strategic planning and U. governance at a forum with the planning VP

Planning for the 250th anniversary of the University’s founding and efforts in student engagement were the main points of discussion at an open forum between students and Russell Carey ’91 MA’06, executive vice president for planning and policy and chair of the committee on reimagining the campus and community, held Thursday afternoon.

The event, planned by the Student Activities Committee and Academic and Administrative Affairs Committee, subdivisions of the Undergraduate Council of Students, was part of UCS week and was intended as a forum for “discussion about University governance and campus planning,” according to a campus-wide email sent by UCS president Anthony White ’13. The forum drew about eight students.

Students and Carey gathered in a classroom in the List Art building and formed a circle with desks. Carey commenced the talk by outlining a brief history of past strategic planning committee efforts, namely the planning process under former president Ruth Simmons. Carey underscored the differences between the current process and the one under Simmons, contrasting the “period of transitions in the president’s office” that preceded Simmons’ presidency with President Christina Paxson’s task of “building on these past 10 years.”

A central conversation thread at the talk was the potential of the 250th anniversary celebration, which will occur in 2014, to create opportunities for fundraising, alumni outreach and student engagement. Student groups can participate by planning events to honor the occasion, he said, adding that UCS should facilitate student involvement.

Another topic of conversation presented by students was the concern that the University is too focused on planning for the future and not enough on current issues facing students. Todd Harris ’14.5, a UCS member, said he takes issue with the state of student advising.

“There are so many things students have the opportunity to take advantage of and don’t know about them because they don’t know where to go,” Harris told The Herald after the event. He added that strengthening the first-year advising program would greatly improve this problem.

Carey said in the talk that his committee was not largely responsible for advising, but he encouraged UCS to present this issue to Katherine Bergeron, dean of the college and chair of the strategic planning committee on educational innovation.

Of the students who attended, seven were UCS members. The eighth was a member of the Brown Conversation. Harris attributed the low turnout to the simultaneous occurrence of the first “Guns in America” lecture, part of a Janus Forum miniseries on gun violence. But Harris said he was still happy with the discussion and felt all of his questions were answered.

“I think he did a great job of kind of laying out where Brown stands at the moment and where it’s headed,” said Alexander Kaplan ’14, UCS student activities chair, organizer of the talk and a former Herald staff writer.


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