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Brown launches $3 billion comprehensive campaign

'BrownTogether' more than doubles goal of previous campaign, Ruth Simmons' 'Boldly Brown'

Updated Oct. 26, 2015 at 12:20 a.m.

The University officially launched the “BrownTogether” campaign Friday evening with a goal of $3 billion — its largest fundraising campaign to date.

The campaign launch followed a Corporation vote earlier in the day approving the details of the campaign proposed by President Christina Paxson P’19.

The campaign’s name reflects the University’s desire to “bring the community together,” Paxson said.

Arriving at the value for BrownTogether’s monetary goal involved “a little bit of science” and “a lot of art,” Paxson said, adding that there is no set end date for the campaign.

Over the last two years, the University has raised just under $950 million “in what we are calling the nucleus fund,” said Patricia Watson, senior vice president for advancement. Ten donors have already given at least $25 million each.

Following a “rule of thumb that you want the nucleus fund to be about 30 percent of the campaign,” $3 billion was identified as a goal that is not only “aspirational but also achievable,” Paxson said.

“I’m delighted to see that the president and the Corporation have committed themselves to this much money,” said John Savage P’88 P’95 P’03 P’05 GP’17, professor of computer science. “Brown has to reach higher than it’s reached before.”

The new campaign goal more than doubles that of Brown’s previous comprehensive fundraising effort.

At the January 2011 close of the University’s most recent campaign, “Boldly Brown,” former President Ruth Simmons had raised $1.6 billion over the course of six years, surpassing the campaign’s original goal of $1.4 billion. Sixty percent of the funds raised in this campaign came from alums, Paxson said.

In June 2011, Yale concluded its most recent campaign with funds totaling $3.9 billion. Princeton closed a campaign at $1.9 billion in June 2012. And in September 2013, Harvard launched its current campaign with the goal of raising $6.5 billion.

The targeted $3 billion in funds for BrownTogether will “set in motion plans designed to take Brown to a significantly new level of excellence” and “make a significant impact on global issues beyond Brown,” Paxson said.

The objectives of the campaign are grounded in initiatives laid out in Paxson’s 10-year strategic plan, “Building on Distinction,” most notably revolving around the plan’s seven themes of integrative scholarship.

Ranging from sustainability to the human experience, these seven interdisciplinary themes use “cross-disciplinary inquiry” to address “real-world challenges,” said Provost Richard Locke P’17. “To do this kind of work and to do it at the level and the scale that we want requires resources, and that’s why this campaign is so important.”

The campaign is divided into four priority areas of investment: people, education and research, campus and community and the Brown Annual Fund.

Investments in people will entail $1.1 billion in fundraising for undergraduate financial aid, medical and graduate student fellowships, endowed professorships and diversity, Paxson said.

These “efforts to bolster faculty diversity and increase undergraduate financial aid are essential in building a more representative and inclusive learning environment,” said Undergraduate Council of Students President Sazzy Gourley ’16.

Investing in endowed faculty chairs allows the University to stay competitive in recruiting and retaining faculty members at the top of their fields, said Dean of the Faculty Kevin McLaughlin P’12. “When we are recruiting outside of Brown, the fact that we would have a named chair granted gives a level of prestige.”

Approximately 17 percent of faculty salaries are currently endowed, and the University plans to double that amount, McLaughlin said, adding that “every salary that’s supported by endowment frees that amount of money up to support other things in our budget.”

The planned $900 million investment in education and research will support growth in Building on Distinction’s seven integrative themes that will bring “different perspectives and ideas together to tackle problems that demand a diversity of knowledge and methodologies,” Paxson said. This involves investing in fields of study that will investigate issues of peace and justice, explore how art affects society, examine how we create and interact with technology and confront the effects of climate change, she said.

“By focusing on certain kinds of integrative themes, I think it greatly increases our research competitiveness,” said David Savitz, vice president for research and professor of epidemiology. “I’m very excited that Brown is embracing its identity as a research university, in no way compromising its identity as an undergraduate institution,” he said.

Investments in this area will “help shape not just the kind of research and education that we offer here on campus, but also help shape policy and help discover new treatments and cures and help us promote all sorts of new inventions,” Locke said.

The campaign’s goal is to raise $600 million for campus infrastructure, which will allow the University to build a new performing arts center and pursue further development in the Jewelry District, among other projects. These developments in campus infrastructure will help support a campus where “students and faculty come together to do the kind of learning and research that serves society,” Paxson said.

Plans for campus infrastructure include “a significant commitment to investing in the research infrastructure,” Savitz said. The University broke ground on the new $88 million engineering building Thursday as part of the campaign kickoff festivities.

“In order to be able to do certain kinds of research, you need certain kinds of core facilities,” Savitz said. “There is now an investment and a plan that we’re developing where there would be fundraising toward supporting those kinds of laboratories.”

The proposed $400 million in fundraising for the Annual Fund will add to the University’s “pool of unrestricted giving” that offers the flexibility to invest in various programs of study, research and student support, Paxson said.

On the whole, the campaign is a “chance to move up even further in some of the areas where we really want to make a mark,” McLaughlin said. “We don’t have the financial resources that our peers do, and if we can get closer to them, we will be able to really take off the table some of the financial advantages that our peers have.”

“People are very on board with a lot of the priorities of the campaign,” Gourley said. But with regard to components of the campaign that affect the undergraduate experience, “it’s important that student voices be prioritized in shaping those implementation strategies,” he said.


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