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BUCC discusses future health, wellness dorm

Paxson P’19, Locke P’18 provide updates on re-accreditation, graduate student unionization

The University hopes to complete the new health and wellness center and dormitory at 450 Brook St. by fall 2021, said Vanessa Britto, executive director of health and wellness, at yesterday’s Brown University Community Council meeting. Community council members also provided updates on the University’s re-accreditation process and graduate student unionization.

The health and wellness center and dormitory will house Counseling and Psychological Services, Health Services, BWell Health Promotion and Emergency Medical Services, Britto said. It will also contain apartment- and suite-style housing with common spaces for students, said Eric Estes, vice president for campus life.

Britto hopes the building’s location the building’s location near Thayer Street, across from the Jonathan Nelson ’77 Fitness Center and adjacent to a patch of green space, will provide opportunities for the center to incorporate recreation, fitness and mindfulness practices.

Currently, “we have a 21st century vision and a 20th century space,” Britto said. Health Services, BWell, EMS and CAPS are scattered across various buildings on campus. The new building will be a space that seamlessly integrates “access to physical and mental health care with BWell Health Promotion, outreach and education,” Britto said. She added that her team is exploring the concept of a rooftop garden and a test kitchen where nutritionists can work with students to learn about healthy eating and food preparation.

The next phases for the building are “design and construction, architect selection and staff and community input,” Britto said.

At the meeting, President Christina Paxson P’19 discussed the results of the University’s re-accreditation process with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The University received “verbal confirmation of re-accreditation on Sept. 28,” Paxson said. The re-accreditation process occurs every 10 years, Paxson added.

The accreditors praised the University, stating that it “holds a special place in the landscape of American higher education,” Paxson said. In particular, they appreciated the University’s mission, commitment to research, undergraduate program, community, financial management, focus on evaluation and transparency, she added.

NEASC also provided the University with constructive criticism. The accreditors observed that the University’s “rate of tenure is high relative to many of our peers,” Paxson said. They added that the University’s doctoral programs could be stronger given the quality of the faculty and the University’s aspiration to be a “great research University,” Paxson said. They also stated that there is “little margin for slippage” in the University’s finances, and that “it would be wise to develop robust contingency plans to guard against a financial downturn.”

Provost Richard Locke P’18 provided an update on graduate student unionization efforts at the meeting, which have “heated up” in the last several months, Locke said. He emphasized that the University does not want a “climate of polarization, conflict and harassment” throughout the potential unionization process. “We want to keep it civil and open and fact-based,” Locke said. In the future, the University will “continue to provide fact-based information to graduate students so they can make informed choices, encourage all eligible students to vote if an election is held and maintain a community,” he added.


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