Building on Distinction

Academic Excellence

Brown’s strength is derived from the talent and dedication of its faculty, students and staff, working in concert with local and global partners and with the support of alumni, parents and other friends of the University.

Members of this community embody the values of Brown: They are intellectually independent, creative, principled and collaborative. Brown’s ability to succeed depends not only on cultivating and engaging the most talented people, but also on developing an efficient and effective organizational structure in which all its members can thrive.

We will continue to cultivate a community of faculty, students, and staff with the diversity and breadth of experience required for excellence and to provide members of this community with the opportunities and resources needed for success. In addition, we will foster connections to existing and new collaborating institutions and to our city and state and to develop new ways to engage alumni and parents in the life of the University.

The investments in integrative scholarship and educational leadership described above will build on Brown’s distinction. Other key strategies are highlighted below.

The Faculty

Faculty are the lifeblood of a great university. In the coming years, Brown will intensify its cultivation of an excellent, diverse faculty that values Brown’s distinctive approach to scholarship and education in the service of society. This goal is not new: A central plank of the Plan for Academic Enrichment was a commitment to the competitive salaries, sabbatical policies, and research resources needed to recruit, retain, and support an outstanding faculty through a period of rapid growth. In the coming years, we will continue this commitment to faculty excellence by maintaining the highest standards of research and teaching while providing faculty with the competitive compensation and the academic resources needed to be successful. Three areas will require special emphasis in the years ahead:

Brown’s policies and programs directed at diversifying its faculty have had only modest success. A diverse faculty is an essential component of scholarly excellence in all disciplines and of ensuring that the University meets the complex needs of Brown’s student body. While continuing our Target of Opportunity Program, we must look to additional strategies to make progress. We will implement a comprehensive plan for diversifying the faculty that focuses on developing the pipeline of young scholars and attracting them to join the Brown faculty and on heightening the awareness of our community to issues of diversity in recruiting, mentoring, and retaining an excellent faculty.

Brown faculty members require concentrated periods of time to devote to their scholarly work and to enrich their pedagogy. Brown’s sabbatical policy, although improved from a decade ago, is still not competitive with our peers. In the coming decade we will strengthen support for sabbaticals and consider changes in the scheduling of courses and the structure of the academic calendar to provide faculty with concentrated blocks of time to enhance their scholarship, experiment with different teaching formats, and engage with students outside of the classroom.

We will continue to develop an environment that incentivizes and supports faculty scholarship, through mentoring of junior faculty, providing increased support to faculty members as they develop research proposals, and streamlining the processes for proposal submission and project oversight. We will grow the discretionary funds available to chairs and center directors to support scholarly activities such as international collaborations, conferences, travel, and the preliminary work necessary to attract external support. We will also continue to build infrastructure to help faculty apply existing and emerging digital technologies to scholarly work across the full breadth of the University.


Brown attracts and benefits from exceptionally talented, creative, and independent students. They are drawn by the flexibility and rigor of the Brown Curriculum and by a campus culture that encourages individuality, forges community, and embraces diversity of thought and experience. Brown has a deeply held commitment to assuring talented and creative students access to this educational experience, regardless of their economic backgrounds. Beginning with the Class of 2007, Brown implemented need-blind admission for first-year domestic applicants. In the coming decade, we will continue to strengthen financial aid, with the following specific priorities:

Maintain need-blind admission and competitive financial support for domestic students with special attention paid to affordability for middle-class as well as high-need students; annually reassess scholarship support for all aided international students; and work toward Brown’s long- standing goal of becoming fully need-blind for all students.

Provide access to additional support for aided students so that they have the capacity to pursue educational or career-oriented opportunities for at least one summer during their time at Brown. This would include additional Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards (UTRAs) as well as financial support to enable aided students to accept paid and unpaid internships.

Make special efforts to identify applicants who come from backgrounds that are underrepresented at Brown, including those who are the first in their families to attend college, as well as veterans and children from military families.

Graduate And Medical Students

Graduate and medical education are cornerstones of Brown’s success that will continue to be developed and enhanced under our plan. Doctoral students produce excellent, independently inspired scholarship, collaborate with faculty, and make critical contributions to undergraduate education. Master’s and medical students engage in research, advance knowledge and go on to careers that serve people and communities around the world. All are ambassadors for Brown, and their success enhances our reputation. Brown’s graduate and medical education programs must continue to attract a diverse pool of exceptionally talented students and support them over the course of their educations.

A major focus in the coming years will be to continue to improve the quality and visibility of Brown’s doctoral programs. We aim to increase dramatically the fraction of doctoral programs that are ranked in the top tier. To achieve this goal, we must maintain stipends and summer support at levels that are comparable to those offered by our peers. In addition, we plan to provide enhanced stipends and summer support for the most promising applicants, and develop a pool of new endowed graduate fellowships that will be awarded to programs that recruit the most outstanding students. An important component of our plan is to develop a set of metrics to track the quality of doctoral programs over time, so that we can monitor improvements and adjust our strategies for each department as needed. Brown’s focus on undergraduate education attracts doctoral students who value teaching. We will provide advanced graduate students with support to become effective teachers and mentors.

To be competitive for academic positions, doctoral students need to demonstrate their talents as teachers. Even at leading institutions, however, only about 50 percent of doctoral students obtain academic positions after graduation. Therefore, we will focus efforts on both assuring our doctoral candidates are trained as outstanding disciplinary teachers with experience in newly emerging modes of instruction, but also receive enhanced career services to help them explore options beyond the academy.

Master’s degree students often study at Brown in preparation for careers requiring expert level knowledge of an academic discipline. As we expand and diversify master’s education at Brown we will enhance career services and professional mentoring targeted at the needs of this group and more fully integrate these students into the academic community. As the number of master’s degree students increases, adequate space must be developed to assure effective learning. At the same time, we must continue to hold master’s programs to the same high standards as other academic programs at Brown.

With an expanded medical school class and the development of innovative teaching modalities, it is necessary to expand relationships with Lifespan and Care New England, our current partners, and to develop new relationships with physician practices and other hospital partners. We will strengthen collaborations with organizations and clinics that provide care to the underserved and enhance our partnerships with Rhode Island health professional schools.


Brown benefits from the exceptional staff who are integral to fulfillment of our mission of teaching, research, and service, and Brown is committed to remaining an employer of choice. Investments in high-performing and well-trained staff will be particularly important to the successful implementation of our plan. The skills required by Brown staff are constantly evolving. Increasingly, jobs at Brown require a range of technical, communications, problem-solving, and project management skills. In addition, as Brown continues to diversify, the staff (like all members of the Brown community) must be culturally aware and adept. In the coming years, we will maintain investments in professional development and training. We must also offer competitive compensation, and provide career paths for staff members to progress to positions of greater responsibility. Throughout we will seek to leverage our investments in technology to enable staff to be as efficient and effective as possible.

Collaborations And Partnerships

Carefully chosen collaborations and partnerships are more important than ever to universities. Successful partnerships with outstanding organizations can enhance Brown’s reputation and extend its reach. Brown already has an extensive network of institutional partners. We collaborate with the Marine Biological Laboratory, Trinity Repertory Company, Rhode Island School of Design, and other local universities on student programs and research. Brown’s hospital partners – Lifespan and Care New England, as well as the V.A. Medical Center – are integral to the success of our medical school and biomedical research. In the last five years, Brown has also developed a range of partnerships with international universities. In the coming decade, we will devote increased attention to the cultivation and stewardship of partnerships as well as the careful assessment of the quality of prospective partners.

Brown University also values its relationship with neighbors and partners in Providence and Rhode Island and is committed to cultivating strong and positive connections for the benefit of the University, the city, and the state. As we implement the priorities of this plan, we will continue to identify partnerships and opportunities of importance to the University that advance the economic, educational, social, and cultural contributions to our city and state. In addition, as we approach the 250th anniversary of Brown’s founding, we will use the occasion to reinforce the historic roots shared by the University, city, and state and to forge ties that will endure beyond the celebration.

Alumni, Parents And Friends Of Brown

Increasing the engagement of alumni, parents, and friends of Brown is essential to our success. Not only does the University rely on the philanthropic support of members of these groups, it also benefits from those who volunteer their time as alumni interviewers, advisory council members, fundraisers, and ambassadors. In the coming years, we will develop an expanded array of volunteer opportunities, including a strengthened undergraduate internship and career advising network and new advisory councils that will provide expert advice as the academic themes and educational innovations are developed. We plan to take advantage of enhanced modes of communicating with alumni, parents, and friends about the life of the campus. This will involve expanding our efforts in social media, making online course content created at Brown available to alumni, parents, and friends, and developing outreach programs that bring community members to campus and bring Brown to communities outside of Providence.