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Editorial: A model to be replicated

Donations to the University are critical in ensuring continuity in both the success and progressive development of the institution. The Sidney E. Frank Endowed Scholarship fund — created through a $100 million gift given 10 years ago by Sidney Frank ’42 — serves as an unparalleled paradigm for giving, as it effectively fuses financial support with an embedded sense of community. It was Frank’s donation that made Brown admission need-blind for domestic applicants, independent of a student’s financial status. With the rising cost of tuition, housing and associated academic materials, donations to the University, particularly with respect to financial aid, are necessary to maintain a heightened level of accessibility for students of varied financial backgrounds. We commend the long-standing work of the Sidney E. Frank Scholarship Fund in facilitating the education of approximately 130 undergraduate scholars, yet we hope that the program can be bolstered and complemented by broader conversations of both ethnic and socioeconomic diversity on campus.

The $100 million donation bequeathed by Frank in 2004 represented a landmark moment in the development of Brown’s underlying scholarship capacity. As reported in The Herald (“Ten years in, Sidney Frank legacy endures in scholarship,” Sept. 30), the dedicated fund “provides scholarships to students from low-income families, allowing them to graduate without student loan debt” — ultimately crafting a heightened degree of accessibility for those in need of additional financial aid. In addition to providing a tight-knit community and network for these Sidney Frank Scholars, the fund directly addresses the burgeoning question of Brown’s limited aid capacity and allows for students to navigate their college experience with lessened pressure from underlying financial concerns. The fund is unique in its framework and ultimately embodies an effective mode of giving, one that should be mirrored in the coming years.

Despite its overwhelming efficacy, the Sidney E. Frank Scholarship Fund, in its operational form, is in no way a perfect system. According to a 2012 Herald poll, 42 percent of students said they did not get enough financial aid from Brown. Given the University’s relatively limited financial resources — Brown still has the smallest endowment of the Ivy League schools — a robust financial aid pool is critical in attracting and retaining the most qualified applicants. Moreover, the program would do well to expand in order to advise students, many of whom are in their families’ first generation to attend college, on postgraduate opportunities, particularly regarding careers. Increased discussion about class and socioeconomic status, still largely absent on campus, could shine more light on the importance of financial aid.

Donating to financial aid and scholarship funds is perhaps not as exciting as contributing expensive libraries and athletic centers, but alums and the University should continue to recognize how Frank’s contribution has a profound effect on the campus for the students it brings in.


Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: Natasha Bluth ’15, Alexander Kaplan ’15 and James Rattner ’15. Send comments to


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