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Five Brown faculty awarded President’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Governance

Award celebrates contributions to University committees, governance

The award was created by then-president Ruth Simmons in 2007, and comes with a $2,500 research stipend.
The award was created by then-president Ruth Simmons in 2007, and comes with a $2,500 research stipend.

President Christina Paxson P’19 P’MD’20 awarded five faculty members with the President’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Governance at the monthly faculty meeting on April 2. 

The award, created in 2007 under then-University President Ruth Simmons, is intended “to recognize and celebrate contributions to faculty governance,” according to University Spokesperson Brian Clark. Awardees receive a $2,500 research stipend.

The Committee on Nominations “solicits suggestions, reviews service, drafts a list of recommended recipients and shares those with the Faculty Executive Committee for input,” Clark wrote in an email to The Herald. The recommendations are shared with Paxson who announces the recipients. 

The Herald spoke with some of this year’s recipients to discuss their service in faculty governance and contributions to the University community.


Diane Lipscombe, a professor of science and neuroscience and director of the Carney Institute Brain Science, is a recipient of the award. She has chaired the Task Force on the Status of Women Faculty — which released findings on the hiring, recruitment and retention of women faculty in a 2023 report — and served on the Tenure and Promotions Committee, in addition to other service roles.

Lipscombe decided to join the Task Force because she felt that she could make a difference in ensuring that recommendations would be adequately implemented. As chair, “my role was to give everybody on the committee a voice,” she told The Herald.

“I was really touched by the award because the people that I work with … work as hard as I do,” Lipscombe said. “I feel that it's extra special, because Brown is a place … where people care deeply … about the contribution to the University and the contribution to these committees.” 

By participating in faculty governance, Lipscombe said that she feels more closely connected to the Brown community, noting that she gets to connect with colleagues across departments.

For Alexander Zaslavsky, a professor of physics and engineering, the award came as a shock. 

“I don't think that I do an enormous amount of the faculty service, but apparently they remember what I had done many years ago,” said Zaslavsky, who has worked on TPAC, the Committee on Faculty Equity of Diversity and the Grievance Committee.

Zaslavsky, who is currently serving his second term on TPAC, noted that he enjoyed how the committee’s decisions make a “difference at the margins.”

“The quality of the faculty certainly has a bearing on how Brown will do in the foreseeable future,” Zaslavsky said. “I would like to see Brown prosper and do what we can and ensure that our colleagues are committed researchers and teachers.”

When Senior Lecturer in Sociology Lisa DiCarlo MA’97 PhD’01 heard she received the award, she was “not expecting it at all,” she wrote in an email to The Herald.

“It is hard to know how much everyone serves, which makes it difficult to see how my participation in faculty governance compares to that of my colleagues,” she added. “I volunteer whenever there is an opportunity to meet a need and I assume others are doing the same. It is nice to have my efforts acknowledged.”


DiCarlo noted that her experiences as a first-generation college student, non-tenure track professor and working mom have inspired her to take on service roles. 

“Every committee benefits from a diverse range of voices and experiences,” she wrote. “It is the only way to understand that there are organizational cultures and practices at every level within the larger organization that is Brown.”

“Without serving this kind of role as a faculty member, you're not gaining understanding of how a great university operates,” said Jin Li, a professor of education and another recipient of the award.

Li joined the Grievance Committee in 2022 and was nominated to be Vice Chair, even though she was a new member. 

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When the chair recused themself due to a conflict of interest, she had to lead the committee as a new member. When adapting to this new position, Li noted she continuously went back to the committee’s charge to guide her decisions. 

Li said that faculty “can’t be partial members” of the Brown community.

“We have to contribute to its health and vitality,” Li said. “Without faculty participating or being willing to serve, then this community … will not be as great as it should be.” 

Laurel Bestock, associate professor of archaeology and the ancient world and Egyptology and Assyriology and of history of art and architecture, also received the award but did not respond to The Herald’s request for comment. 

Ryan Doherty

Ryan Doherty is a Section Editor covering faculty, higher education and science & research. He is a sophomore concentrating in chemistry and economics who likes to partially complete crosswords in his free time.

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