|Latin: Universitas Brunensis|
|Rhode Island College (1764–1804)|
|Motto||In Deo Speramus (Latin)|
Motto in English
|In God We Hope|
|Type||Private research university|
|Established||September 15, 1764|
|Endowment||$4.7 billion (2020)|
|Provost||Richard M. Locke|
|Students||10,333 (Fall 2019)|
|Undergraduates||7,160 (Fall 2019)|
|Postgraduates||3,173 (Fall 2019)|
143 acres (579,000 m²)
|Colors||Brown, White, and Cardinal|
|NCAA Division I – Ivy League|
ECAC Hockey, EARC/EAWRC
|Mascot||Bruno the Bear|
Brown University is a private Ivy League research university in Providence, Rhode Island. Founded in 1764 as the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, it is the seventh-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. At its foundation, Brown was the first college in the U.S. to accept students regardless of their religious affiliation. The university's medical program is the third-oldest in New England, while its engineering program is the oldest in the Ivy League.[a] The university was one of the early doctoral-granting U.S. institutions in the late 19th century, adding masters and doctoral studies in 1887. In 1969, Brown adopted its Open Curriculum after a period of student lobbying. The new curriculum eliminated mandatory "general education" distribution requirements, made students "the architects of their own syllabus" and allowed them to take any course for a grade of satisfactory (Pass) or no-credit (Fail) which is unrecorded on external transcripts. In 1971, Brown's coordinate women's institution, Pembroke College, was fully merged into the university; the Pembroke Campus now includes dormitories and classrooms used by all of Brown.
Admissions is among the most selective in the United States, with an acceptance rate of 5.4% for Fall 2021.
The university comprises the College, the Graduate School, Alpert Medical School, the School of Engineering, the School of Public Health and the School of Professional Studies (which includes the IE Brown Executive MBA program). Brown's international programs are organized through the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, and the university is academically affiliated with the Marine Biological Laboratory and the Rhode Island School of Design. The Brown|RISD Dual Degree Program, offered in conjunction with the Rhode Island School of Design, is a five-year course that awards degrees from both institutions.
Brown's main campus is located in the College Hill neighborhood of Providence, Rhode Island. The university is surrounded by a federally listed architectural district with a dense concentration of Colonial-era buildings. Benefit Street, which runs along the western edge of the campus, contains "one of the finest cohesive collections of restored seventeenth- and eighteenth-century architecture in the United States".
As of November 2019[update], 8 Nobel Prize winners have been affiliated with Brown University as alumni, faculty, or researchers, as well as seven National Humanities Medalists[b] and 10 National Medal of Science laureates. Other notable alumni include 25 Pulitzer Prize winners, twelve billionaires,[c] one U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice, four U.S. Secretaries of State, 99 members of the United States Congress, 57 Rhodes Scholars, 52 Gates Cambridge Scholars, 50 Marshall Scholars, and 15 MacArthur Genius Fellows.
The foundation and the charter
Your Petitioners propose to open a literary institution or School for instructing young Gentlemen in the Languages, Mathematics, Geography & History, & such other branches of Knowledge as shall be desired. That for this End ... it will be necessary ... to erect a public Building or Buildings for the boarding of the youth & the Residence of the Professors.
The three petitioners were Ezra Stiles, pastor of Newport's Second Congregational Church and future president of Yale; William Ellery, Jr., future signer of the United States Declaration of Independence; and Josias Lyndon, future governor of the colony. Stiles and Ellery were co-authors of the Charter of the College two years later. The editor of Stiles's papers observes, "This draft of a petition connects itself with other evidence of Dr. Stiles's project for a Collegiate Institution in Rhode Island, before the charter of what became Brown University."
There is further documentary evidence that Stiles was making plans for a college in 1762. On January 20, Chauncey Whittelsey, pastor of the First Church of New Haven, answered a letter from Stiles:
The week before last I sent you the Copy of Yale College Charter ... Should you make any Progress in the Affair of a Colledge, I should be glad to hear of it; I heartily wish you Success therein.
The Philadelphia Association of Baptist Churches also had an eye on Rhode Island, home of the mother church of their denomination: the First Baptist Church in America, founded in Providence in 1638 by Roger Williams. The Baptists were as yet unrepresented among colonial colleges; the Congregationalists had Harvard and Yale, the Presbyterians had the College of New Jersey (later Princeton), and the Episcopalians had the College of William and Mary and King's College (later Columbia). Isaac Backus was the historian of the New England Baptists and an inaugural Trustee of Brown, writing in 1784. He described the October 1762 resolution taken at Philadelphia:
The Philadelphia Association obtained such an acquaintance with our affairs, as to bring them to an apprehension that it was practicable and expedient to erect a college in the Colony of Rhode-Island, under the chief direction of the Baptists; ... Mr. James Manning, who took his first degree in New-Jersey college in September, 1762, was esteemed a suitable leader in this important work.
Manning arrived at Newport in July 1763 and was introduced to Stiles, who agreed to write the Charter for the college. Stiles's first draft was read to the General Assembly in August 1763 and rejected by Baptist members who worried that the College Board of Fellows would under-represent the Baptists. A revised Charter written by Stiles and Ellery was adopted by the Assembly on March 3, 1764.
In September 1764, the inaugural meeting of the College Corporation was held at Newport. Governor Stephen Hopkins was chosen chancellor, former and future governor Samuel Ward was vice chancellor, John Tillinghast treasurer, and Thomas Eyres secretary. The Charter stipulated that the Board of Trustees be composed of 22 Baptists, five Quakers, five Episcopalians, and four Congregationalists. Of the 12 Fellows, eight should be Baptists—including the College president—"and the rest indifferently of any or all Denominations."
At the time of its creation, Brown's Charter was in many ways a uniquely progressive document. Other colleges had curricular strictures against opposing doctrines, while Brown's Charter asserted, "Sectarian differences of opinions, shall not make any Part of the Public and Classical Instruction." Second, according to Brown University historian Walter Bronson, "the instrument governing Brown University recognized more broadly and fundamentally than any other the principle of denominational cooperation." The oft-repeated statement that Brown's Charter alone prohibited a religious test for College membership is inaccurate; other college charters were also liberal in that particular.
The college was founded as Rhode Island College, on the site of the First Baptist Church in Warren, Rhode Island. James Manning was sworn in as the College's first president in 1765 and remained in the role until 1791. In 1770, the College moved from Warren, Rhode Island, to the crest of College Hill overlooking Providence. To establish a campus, John and Moses Brown purchased a four acre lot on the East Side of Providence on behalf of the school. The majority of the property fell within the bounds of the original home lot of Chad Brown, an ancestor of the Browns and one of the original proprietors of Providence Plantations.
After relocating to Providence, work began on establishing a permanent campus for the College, an effort that culminated in the construction of University Hall. A building committee, organized by the Corporation, developed plans for the College's first purpose-built edifice, finalizing a design on February 9, 1770. The subsequent structure, referred to as "The College Edifice," may have been modeled off of Nassau Hall, built 14 years prior at the College of New Jersey. James Manning, Brown's first president and active member of the building process, was educated at Princeton and may have suggested that Brown's first building resemble that of his alma mater.
The Brown family
Nicholas Brown, a slave trader, his son Nicholas Brown, Jr. (class of 1786), John Brown, Joseph Brown, and Moses Brown were instrumental in moving the College to Providence, constructing its first building, and securing its endowment. Joseph became a professor of natural philosophy at the College; John served as its treasurer from 1775 to 1796; and Nicholas Jr. succeeded his uncle as treasurer from 1796 to 1825.
On September 8, 1803, the Corporation voted, "That the donation of $5000 Dollars, if made to this College within one Year from the late Commencement, shall entitle the donor to name the College." The following year, the appeal was answered by College treasurer Nicholas Brown, then a Junior. In a letter dated September 6, 1804, Brown committed "a donation of Five Thousand Dollars to Rhode Island College, to remain in perpetuity as a fund for the establishment of a Professorship of Oratory and Belles Letters." In recognition of the gift, the Corporation on the same day voted, "That this College be called and known in all future time by the Name of Brown University." Over the years, the benefactions of Nicholas Brown, Jr., totaled nearly $160,000 and included funds for the building of Hope College (1821–22) and Manning Hall (1834-35).
In 1904, the John Carter Brown Library, founded on the private collection of John Carter Brown, son of Nicholas Brown, Jr., was established as an independently funded research library on Brown's campus.
The Brown family was involved in various business ventures in Rhode Island, and accrued a portion of wealth through the Triangle Trade. The family itself was divided on the issue of slavey. John Brown had unapologetically defended slavery, while Moses Brown and Nicholas Brown Jr. were fervent abolitionists. Under the tenure of President Ruth Simmons, the University in 2003 established a steering committee to investigate these ties and recommend a strategy to address them.
The American Revolution
With British vessels patrolling Narragansett Bay in the fall of 1776, the College library was moved out of Providence for safekeeping. During the subsequent American Revolutionary War, Brown's University Hall was used to house French and other revolutionary troops led by General George Washington and the Comte de Rochambeau as they waited to commence the celebrated march of 1781 that led to the Siege of Yorktown and the Battle of the Chesapeake. The building functioned as barracks and hospital from December 10, 1776, to April 20, 1780, and as a hospital for French troops from June 26, 1780, to May 27, 1782.
A number of Brown's founders and alumni played roles in the American Revolution and subsequent establishment of the United States. Brown's first Chancellor, Stephen Hopkins, served as a Delegate to the Colonial Congress in Albany 1754 and to the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1776. James Manning, the university's first president represented Rhode Island at the Congress of the Confederation while serving as president.
James Mitchell Varnum, who graduated with honors in Brown's first graduating class of 1769, served as one of General George Washington's Continental Army Brigadier Generals and later as Major General in command of the entire Rhode Island militia. Varnum is noted as the founder and commander of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, widely regarded as the first Black battalion in U.S. military history. David Howell, who graduated with an A.M. in 1769, served as a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1782 to 1785.
Nineteen individuals have served as presidents of the university since its founding in 1764. Since 2012, Christina Hull Paxson has served as president. She had previously served as dean of Princeton University's School of Public and International Affairs and a past-chair of Princeton's economics department.
Paxson's immediate predecessor, Ruth Simmons, is noted as the first African American president of an Ivy League institution. Other noted presidents include academic, Vartan Gregorian, and philosopher and economist, Francis Wayland.
The New Curriculum
In 1966, the first Group Independent Study Project (GISP) at Brown was formed, involving 80 students and 15 professors. The GISP was inspired by student-initiated experimental schools, especially San Francisco State College, and sought ways to "put students at the center of their education" and "teach students how to think rather than just teaching facts."
Members of the GISP, Ira Magaziner and Elliot Maxwell published a paper of their findings entitled, "Draft of a Working Paper for Education at Brown University." The paper made proposals for the new curriculum, including interdisciplinary freshman-year courses that would introduce "modes of thought," with instruction from faculty from different disciplines as well as for an end to letter grades. The following year Magaziner began organizing the student body to press for the reforms, organizing discussions and protests.
In 1969, University President Ray Heffner Special Committee on Curricular Philosophy in response to student rallies held support of curriculum reform. The committee was tasked with developing specific reforms and the resulting report was called the Maeder Report after the committee's chairman. The report was presented to the faculty, which voted the New Curriculum into existence on May 7, 1969. Its key features included:
- Modes of Thought courses for first-year students
- The introduction of interdisciplinary courses
- The abandonment of "general education" distribution requirements
- The Satisfactory/No Credit (S/NC) grading option
- The ABC/No Credit grading system, which eliminated pluses, minuses, and D's; a grade of "No Credit" (equivalent to F's at other institutions) would not appear on external transcripts.
The Modes of Thought course was discontinued early on, but the other elements are still in place. In 2006, the reintroduction of plus/minus grading was broached by persons concerned about grade inflation. The idea was rejected by the College Curriculum Council after canvassing alumni, faculty, and students, including the original authors of the Magaziner-Maxwell Report. However, President Christina Paxson has noted that grade inflation clearly exists at Brown, with 53.4% of grades given at Brown being As during the 2012–2013 academic year. Another unique feature of the grading system at Brown is that failures are erased from the student's transcript; as a result, some students have asked a professor for a failing grade, rather than having a C on his or her transcript. While erasure of failing grades from external transcripts is unique to Brown, it is important to note that grade inflation also exists at other U.S. universities.
Slavery and Justice report
In 2003, then-University president Ruth Simmons launched a steering committee to research the school's eighteenth-century ties to slavery. The committee released a report documenting the findings in October 2006. Entitled "Slavery and Justice," the report details how the university benefited both directly and indirectly from the transatlantic slave trade and the labor of enslaved people.
In addition to documentation, the report included seven recommendations concerning how the university should address this legacy. Brown has since completed a number of these recommendations including the establishment of the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, the construction of a slavery memorial, and the funding of a $10 million permanent endowment for the Providence Public Schools.
Coat of arms
Brown's coat of arms was created in 1834. The prior year, president Francis Wayland had commissioned a committee to update the school's logo to match the name the university had adopted in 1804. Central in the coat of arms is a white escutcheon divided into four sectors by a red cross; within each sector is an open book. Above the shield is a crest consisting of the upper half of a sun in splendor among the clouds atop a red and white torse.
The sun and clouds represent "learning piercing the clouds of ignorance," while the cross is believed to be a Saint George's Cross. The seal's four open books symbolize learning, and are rumored to represent Harvard, Yale, Cambridge and Oxford.
Brown is the largest institutional landowner in Providence, with properties on College Hill and in the Jewelry District. The College Hill campus was built contemporaneously with the eighteenth and nineteenth century precincts that surround it so university buildings blend with the city's architectural fabric. Brown's central campus, built around University Hall, is defined by a brick and wrought-iron fence, which traces the block's perimeter. The character of Brown's urban campus is European organic rather than American landscaped.
Brown's main campus, comprises 235 buildings and 143 acres (0.58 km2) in the East Side neighborhood of College Hill. The university's central, historic campus sits on a 15-acre (6.1-hectare) block bounded by Waterman, Prospect, George, and Thayer Streets; newer buildings extend northward, eastward, and southward. Brown's central campus, constructed primarly between 1770 and 1926—is defined by three greens: the Front or Quiet Green, the Middle or College Green, and the Ruth J. Simmons Quadrangle (historically known as Lincoln Field). The buildings in this section of campus are primarily Georgian and Richardsonian Romanesque.
To the south of the central campus are academic buildings and residential quadrangles, including Wriston, Keeney, and Gregorian quadrangles. Immediately to the east sit Sciences Park and the School of Engineering. North of the central campus are performing and visual arts facilities, life sciences labs, and the Pembroke Campus. Situated along the western edge of the central campus are two of the university's seven libraries, the John Hay Library and the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library.
Brown's campus is contiguous that of the Rhode Island School of Design, which sits to its west, along the slope of College Hill.
Van Wickle Gates
Built in 1901, the Van Wickle Gates are a set of wrought iron gates on the western edge of Brown's campus. The larger main gate is flanked by two smaller side gates. At Convocation the central gate opens inward to admit the procession of new students; at Commencement, the gate opens outward for the procession of graduates. A Brown superstition holds that students who walk through the central gate a second time prematurely will not graduate, although walking backward is said to cancel the hex. Members of the Brown University Band flout the superstition by walking through the gate three times too many, as they annually play their role in the Commencement parade.
John Hay Library
The John Hay Library is the second oldest library on campus. It was opened in 1910 and named for John Hay (class of 1858, private secretary to Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State under two Presidents) at the request of his friend Andrew Carnegie, who contributed half of the $300,000 cost of the building. The library is now the repository of the university's archives, rare books and manuscripts, and special collections. Noteworthy among the latter are the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection (described as "the foremost American collection of material devoted to the history and iconography of soldiers and soldiering"), the Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays (described as "the largest and most comprehensive collection of its kind in any research library"), the Lownes Collection of the History of Science (described as "one of the three most important private collections of books of science in America"), and the papers of H. P. Lovecraft. The Hay Library is home to one of the broadest collections of incunabula in the Americas, one of Brown's two Shakespeare First Folios, the manuscript of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, and three books bound in human skin.
John Carter Brown Library
Founded in 1846, the John Carter Brown Library, is administered separately from the university but since 1904 has been located on Brown's campus. The John Carter Brown Library is generally regarded as the world's leading collection of primary historical sources relating to the exploration and colonization of the Americas. The library contains the best preserved of the eleven surviving copies of the Bay Psalm Book—the earliest extant book printed in British North America and the most expensive printed book in the world. Other holdings include a Shakespeare First Folio and the world's largest collection of 16th century Mexican texts.
The exhibition galleries of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Brown's teaching museum, are located in Manning Hall on the campus's main green. Its one million artifacts, available for research and educational purposes, are located at its Collections Research Center in Bristol, Rhode Island. The museum's goal is to inspire creative and critical thinking about culture by fostering an interdisciplinary understanding of the material world. It provides opportunities for faculty and students to work with collections and the public, teaching through objects and programs in classrooms and exhibitions. The museum sponsors lectures and events in all areas of anthropology, and also runs an extensive program of outreach to local schools.
Annmary Brown Memorial
The Annmary Brown Memorial was constructed from 1903 to 1907 by the politician, Civil War veteran, and book collector General Rush Hawkins, as a mausoleum for his wife, Annmary Brown, a member of the Brown family. In addition to its crypt—the final repository for Brown and Hawkins—the Memorial includes works of art from Hawkins's private collection, including paintings by Angelica Kauffman, Peter Paul Rubens, Gilbert Stuart, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Benjamin West, and Eastman Johnson, among others. His collection of over 450 incunabula was relocated to the John Hay Library in 1990. Today the Memorial is home to Brown's Medieval Studies and Renaissance Studies programs.
The Walk, a landscaped pedestrian corridor, connects the Pembroke Campus to the main campus. The Walk extends from Ruth Simmons Quadrangle at its southern terminus to the Meeting Street entrance to the Pembroke Campus at its northern end. It is bordered by departmental buildings as well as the Performing Arts Center and Granoff Center for the Creative Arts. The Walk is home to public art including a sculpture by artist and designer Maya Lin.
The Women's College in Brown University, known as Pembroke College, was founded in October 1891. Upon its 1971 merger with the College of Brown University, Pembroke's campus was absorbed into the larger Brown campus. The Pembroke campus is centered on a quadrangle that fronts on Meeting Street, where a garden and monument—with scale-model of the quadrangle in bronze—compose the formal entry to the campus. The campus is characterized by largely Georgian and Victorian architecture. The west side of the quadrangle comprises Pembroke Hall (1897), Smith-Buonanno Hall (1907), and Metcalf Hall (1919), while the east side comprises Alumnae Hall (1927) and Miller Hall (1910). The quadrangle culminates on the north with Andrews Hall (1947). Pembroke Hall, originally a classroom building and library, now houses the Cogut Center for the Humanities.
East Campus, centered on Hope and Charlesfield streets, was originally the site of Bryant University. In 1969, as Bryant was preparing to move to Smithfield, Rhode Island, Brown purchased their Providence campus for $5 million. The purchase expanded the Brown campus by 10 acres (40,000 m2) and 26 buildings. In 1971, the area was named East Campus.
Thayer Street runs through Brown's main campus. As commercial corridor frequented by students, Thayer is comparable to Harvard Square or Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue. Wickenden Street, in the adjacent Fox Point neighborhood is likewise popular among students.
Built in 1925, Brown Stadium—the home of the school's football team—is located approximately a mile and a half northeast of the university's central campus. Marston Boathouse, the home of Brown's crew teams, lies on the Seekonk River, to the southeast of campus. Brown's sailing teams are based out of the Ted Turner Sailing Pavilion at the Edgewood Yacht Club in adjacent Cranston.
Since 2011, Brown's Warren Alpert Medical School has been located in Providence's historic Jewelry District, near the medical campus of Brown's teaching hospitals, Rhode Island Hospital and the Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island. Other university facilities, including molecular medicine labs and administrative offices, are likewise located in the area.
Brown's School of Public Health occupies a landmark modernist building along the Providence River. Other Brown properties include the 376-acre (1.52 km2) Mount Hope Grant in Bristol, Rhode Island, an important Native American site noted as a location of King Philip's War. Brown's Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology Collection Research Center, particularly strong in Native American items, is located in the Mount Hope Grant.
Brown has committed to "minimize its energy use, reduce negative environmental impacts and promote environmental stewardship." The Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee has developed a set of ambitious goals for the university to reduce its carbon emissions and eventually achieve carbon neutrality. The "Brown is Green" website collects information about Brown's progress toward greenhouse gas emissions reductions and related campus initiatives, such as student groups, courses, and research. Brown's grade of A-minus was the top one issued in the 2009 report of the Sustainable Endowments Institute (no A-grade was issued). Brown has a number of active environmental leadership groups on campus. These groups have begun a number of campus-wide environmental initiatives—including promoting the reduction of supply and demand of bottled water and investigating a composting program.
According to the A. W. Kuchler U.S. potential natural vegetation types, Brown would have a dominant vegetation type of Appalachian Oak (104) with a dominant vegetation form of Eastern Hardwood Forest (25).
Founded in 1764, the College is Brown's oldest school. About 7,200 undergraduate students are enrolled in the College, and 81 concentrations are offered. The undergraduate concentrations with the greatest number of students are Computer Science, Economics, Biology, History, Applied Mathematics, and International Relations. Brown is one of the few schools in the United States with an undergraduate concentration in Egyptology. Undergraduates can also design an independent concentration if the existing programs do not align with their curricular focus.
35 percent of undergraduates pursue graduate or professional study immediately, 60 percent within 5 years, and 80 percent within 10 years. For the Class of 1998, 75 percent of all graduates have since enrolled in a graduate or professional degree program. The degrees acquired were doctoral 22 percent, master's 35 percent, medicine 28 percent, and law 14 percent.
The highest fields of employment for graduates of the College are business 36 percent, education 19 percent, health/medical 6 percent, arts 6 percent, government 6 percent, and communications/media 5 percent.
Brown|RISD Dual Degree Program
Brown neighbor on College Hill is the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Since 1902, Brown and RISD students have been able to cross-register at the two institutions, with Brown students permitted to take as many as four courses at RISD to count towards their Brown degree. The two institutions partner to provide various student-life services and the two student bodies compose a synergy in the College Hill cultural scene.
After several years of discussion between the two institutions and several students pursuing dual degrees unofficially, Brown and RISD formally established a five-year dual degree program in 2007, with the first class matriculating in the fall of 2008. The Brown|RISD Dual Degree Program, among the most selective in the country, offered admission to 20 of the 725 applicants for the class entering in autumn 2020, for an acceptance rate of 2.7 percent. The program combines the complementary strengths of the two institutions, integrating studio art and design at RISD with the entire spectrum of Brown's departmental offerings. Students are admitted to the Dual Degree Program for a course lasting five years and culminating in both the Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) or Bachelor of Science (Sc.B.) degree from Brown and the Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degree from RISD. Prospective students must apply to the two schools separately and be accepted by separate admissions committees. Their application must then be approved by a third Brown|RISD joint committee.
Admitted students spend the first year in residence at RISD completing its first-year Experimental and Foundation Studies curriculum, while taking up to three Brown classes. The second year is spent in residence at Brown, during which students take mainly Brown courses while starting on their RISD major requirements. In the third, fourth, and fifth years, students can elect to live at either school or off-campus, and course distribution is determined by the requirements of each student's unique combination of Brown concentration and RISD major. Program participants are noted for their creative and original approach to cross-disciplinary opportunities, combining, for example, industrial design with engineering, or anatomical illustration with human biology, or philosophy with sculpture, or architecture with urban studies. An annual "BRDD Exhibition" is a well-publicized and heavily attended event, drawing interest and attendees from the wider world of industry, design, the media, and the fine arts.
Theatre and playwriting
Brown's theatre and playwriting programs are among the best-regarded in the country. Six Brown graduates have received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama; Alfred Uhry '58 (1988), Lynn Nottage '86 (twice—2009, 2017), Ayad Akhtar '93, Nilo Cruz '94, Quiara Alegría Hudes '04, and Jackie Sibblies Drury MFA '04. In American Theater magazine's 2009 ranking of the most-produced American plays, Brown graduates occupied four of the top five places—Peter Nachtrieb '97, Rachel Sheinkin '89, Sarah Ruhl '97, and Stephen Karam '02.
The undergraduate concentration (major) encompasses programs in theatre history, performance theory, playwriting, dramaturgy, acting, directing, dance, speech, and technical production. Applications for doctoral and master's degree programs are made through the University Graduate School. Master's degrees in acting and directing are pursued in conjunction with the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA program, which partners with the Trinity Repertory Company, a local regional theatre.
Writing at Brown—fiction, non-fiction, poetry, playwriting, screenwriting, electronic writing, mixed media, and the undergraduate writing proficiency requirement—is catered for by various centers and degree programs, and a faculty that has long included nationally and internationally known authors. The undergraduate concentration (major) in literary arts offers courses in fiction, poetry, screenwriting, literary hypermedia, and translation. Graduate programs include the fiction and poetry MFA writing programs in the literary arts department, and the MFA playwriting program in the theatre arts and performance studies department. The non-fiction writing program is offered in the English department. Screenwriting and cinema narrativity courses are offered in the departments of literary arts and modern culture and media. The undergraduate writing proficiency requirement is supported by the Writing Center.
Alumni authors take their degrees across the spectrum of degree concentrations, but a gauge of the strength of writing at Brown is the number of major national writing prizes won. To note only winners since the year 2000: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction-winners Jeffrey Eugenides '82 (2003), Marilynne Robinson '66 (2005), and Andrew Sean Greer '92 (2018); British Orange Prize-winners Marilynne Robinson '66 (2009) and Madeline Miller '00 (2012); Pulitzer Prize for Drama-winners Nilo Cruz '94 (2003), Lynn Nottage '86 (twice, 2009, 2017), Quiara Alegría Hudes '04 (2012), Ayad Akhtar '93 (2013), and Jackie Sibblies Drury MFA '04 (2019); Pulitzer Prize for Biography-winners David Kertzer '69 (2015) and Benjamin Moser '98 (2020); Pulitzer Prize for Journalism-winners James Risen '77 (twice, 2002, 2006), Mark Maremont '80 (twice, 2003, 2007), Gareth Cook '91 (2005), Tony Horwitz '80 (2005), Peter Kovacs '77 (twice, 2006, 2019), Stephanie Grace '86 (2006), Mary Swerczek '98 (2006), Jane B. Spencer '99 (2006), Usha Lee McFarling '89 (2007), James Bandler '89 (2007), Amy Goldstein '75 (2009), David Rohde '90 (twice, 1996, 2009), Kathryn Schulz '96 (2016), Alissa J. Rubin '80 (2016), Rebecca Ballhaus '13 (2019); Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction-winner James Forman Jr. '88 (2018), as well as Pulitzer Prize for Poetry-winner Peter Balakian PhD '80 (2016)
Brown began offering computer science courses through the departments of Economics and Applied Mathematics in 1956 when it acquired an IBM machine. Brown added an IBM 650 in January 1958, the only one of its type between Hartford and Boston. In 1960, Brown opened its first dedicated computer building. The facility, designed by Philip Johnson, received an IBM 7070 computer the following year. Brown granted computer sciences full Departmental status in 1979. In 2009, IBM and Brown announced the installation of a supercomputer (by teraflops standards), the most powerful in the southeastern New England region.
In the 1960s, Andries van Dam along with Ted Nelson, and Bob Wallace invented The Hypertext Editing Systems, HES and FRESS while at Brown. Nelson coined the word hypertext while Van Dam's students helped originate XML, XSLT, and related Web standards. Among the school's computer science alumni are principal architect of the Classic Mac OS, Andy Hertzfeld, principal architect of the Intel 80386 and Intel 80486 microprocessors, John Crawford, former CEO of Apple, John Sculley, and digital effects programer Masi Oka. Other alumni include former CS department head at MIT, John Guttag, Workday founder, Aneel Bhusri, and MongoDB founder Eliot Horowitz.
The Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World
The Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World pursues fieldwork and excavations, regional surveys, and academic study of the archaeology and art of the ancient Mediterranean, Egypt, and Western Asia from the Levant to the Caucasus. The institute has a very active fieldwork profile, with faculty-led excavations and regional surveys presently in Petra, Abydos, Turkey, Sudan, Italy, Mexico, Guatemala, Montserrat, and Providence.
The institute's faculty includes cross-appointments from the departments of Egyptology, Assyriology, Classics, Anthropology, and History of Art and Architecture. Faculty research and publication areas include Greek and Roman art and architecture, landscape archaeology, urban and religious architecture of the Levant, Roman provincial studies, the Aegean Bronze Age, and the archaeology of the Caucasus. The institute offers visiting teaching appointments and postdoctoral fellowships which have, in recent years, included Near Eastern Archaeology and Art, Classical Archaeology and Art, Islamic Archaeology and Art, and Archaeology and Media Studies.
Egyptology and Assyriology
Facing the Joukowsky Institute, across the Front Green, is the Department of Egyptology and Assyriology, formed in 2006 by the merger of Brown's departments of Egyptology and History of Mathematics. It is one of only a handful of such departments in the United States. The curricular focus is on three principal areas: Egyptology, Assyriology, and the history of the ancient exact sciences (astronomy, astrology, and mathematics). Many courses in the department are open to all Brown undergraduates without prerequisite, and include archaeology, languages, history, and Egyptian and Mesopotamian religions, literature, and science. Students concentrating in the department choose a track of either Egyptology or Assyriology. Graduate level study comprises three tracks to the doctoral degree: Egyptology, Assyriology, or the History of the Exact Sciences in Antiquity.
The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs is a center for the study of global issues and public affairs and is one of the leading institutes of its type in the country. It occupies facilities designed by Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly and Japanese architect Toshiko Mori. The institute was initially endowed by Thomas Watson, Jr. (Class of 1937), former Ambassador to the Soviet Union and longtime president of IBM.
Institute faculty and faculty emeritus include Italian prime minister and European Commission president Romano Prodi, Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Chilean president Ricardo Lagos Escobar, Mexican novelist and statesman Carlos Fuentes, Brazilian statesman and United Nations commission head Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Indian foreign minister and ambassador to the United States Nirupama Rao, American diplomat and Dayton Peace Accords author Richard Holbrooke (Class of 1962), and Sergei Khrushchev, editor of the papers of his father Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union.
The institute's curricular interest is organized into the principal themes of development, security, and governance—with further focuses on globalization, economic uncertainty, security threats, environmental degradation, and poverty. Six Brown undergraduate concentrations are hosted by the Watson Institute: Development Studies, International and Public Affairs, International Relations, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Middle East Studies, Public Policy, and South Asian Studies. Graduate programs offered at the Watson Institute include the Graduate Program in Development (Ph.D.) and the Master of Public Affairs (M.P.A) Program. The institute also offers Post Doctoral, professional development and global outreach programming. In support of these programs, the Institute houses various centers, including the Brazil Initiative, Brown-India Initiative, China Initiative, Middle East Studies center, The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) and the Taubman Center for Public Policy. In recent years, the most internationally cited product of the Watson Institute has been its Costs of War Project, first released in 2011 and continuously updated since. The project comprises a team of economists, anthropologists, political scientists, legal experts, and physicians, and seeks to calculate the economic costs, human casualties, and impact on civil liberties of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan since 2001.
The School of Engineering
Established in 1847, Brown's engineering program is the oldest in the Ivy League and the third oldest civilian engineering program in the country, preceded only by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1824) and Union College (1845). In 1916, the departments of electrical, mechanical, and civil engineering were merged into a Division of Engineering, and in 2010 the division was elevated to a School of Engineering.
Engineering at Brown is especially interdisciplinary. The School is organized without the traditional departments or boundaries found at most schools, and follows a model of connectivity between disciplines—including biology, medicine, physics, chemistry, computer science, the humanities and the social sciences. The School practices an innovative clustering of faculties in which engineers team with non-engineers to bring a convergence of ideas.
IE Brown Executive MBA Dual Degree Program
Since 2009, Brown has developed an Executive MBA program in conjunction with one of the leading Business Schools in Europe; IE Business School in Madrid. This relationship has since strengthened resulting in both institutions offering a dual degree program. In this partnership, Brown provides its traditional coursework while IE provides most of the business-related subjects making a differentiated alternative program to other Ivy League's EMBAs. The cohort typically consists of 25-30 EMBA candidates from some 20 countries. Classes are held in Providence, Madrid, Cape Town and Online.
The Pembroke Center
The Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women was established at Brown in 1981 by Joan Wallach Scott as an interdisciplinary research center on gender. The center is named for Pembroke College, Brown's former women's college, and is affiliated with Brown's Sarah Doyle Women's Center. The Pembroke Center supports the undergraduate concentration in Gender and Sexuality Studies, post-doctoral research fellowships, the annual Pembroke Seminar, and other academic programs. It also manages various collections, archives, and resources, including the Elizabeth Weed Feminist Theory Papers and the Christine Dunlap Farnham Archive.
The Graduate School
Brown introduced graduate courses in the 1870s and granted its first advanced degrees in 1888. The university established a Graduate Department in 1903 and a full Graduate School in 1927. With an enrollment of approximately 2,600 students, the school currently offers 33 and 51 master’s and doctoral programs, respectively. The graduate school additionally offers a number of fifth-year master's programs.
Overall, admission to the Graduate School is most competitive with an acceptance rate of about 10 percent.
Alpert Medical School
Brown's medical program was established in 1811, but the school was suspended by President Francis Wayland in 1827 after the program's faculty declined to follow a new policy requiring students to live on campus. The program was reorganized in 1972; the first M.D. degrees from the new Program in Medicine were awarded to a graduating class of 58 students in 1975. In 1991, the school was officially renamed the Brown University School of Medicine, then renamed once more to Brown Medical School in October 2000. In January 2007, entrepreneur and philanthropist Warren Alpert donated $100 million to the school. In recognition of the gift the school's name was changed to the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
In 2020, U.S. News & World Report ranked Brown's medical school the 9th most selective in the country, with an acceptance rate of 2.8 percent. U.S. News ranks it 38th for research and 35th for primary care.
The medical school is known especially for its eight-year Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME), inaugurated in 1984. One of the most selective and renowned programs of its type in the country, it offered admission to 88 of the 2,530 applicants for the class entering in autumn 2020, for an acceptance rate of 3.4 percent. Since 1976, the Early Identification Program (EIP) has encouraged Rhode Island residents to pursue careers in medicine by recruiting sophomores from Providence College, Rhode Island College, the University of Rhode Island, and Tougaloo College. In 2004, the school once again began to accept applications from premedical students at other colleges and universities via AMCAS like most other medical schools. The medical school also offers MD/PhD, MD/MPH and MD/MPP dual degree programs..
School of Public Health
Brown's School of Public Health grew out of the Alpert Medical School's Department of Community Health and was officially founded in 2013 as an independent school. The school issues undergraduate (AB, ScB), graduate (MPH, ScM, AM), doctoral (PhD), and dual-degrees (MPH/MPA, MD/MPH).
The Brown University School of Professional Studies currently offers blended learning Executive master's degrees in Healthcare Leadership, Cyber Security, and Science and Technology Leadership. The master's degrees are designed to help students who have a job and life outside of academia to progress in their respective fields. The students meet in Providence every 6–7 weeks for a week seminar each trimester.
The university has also invested in MOOC development starting in 2013, when two courses, Archeology's Dirty Little Secrets and The Fiction of Relationship, both of which received thousands of students. However, after a year of courses, the university broke its contract with Coursera and revamped its online persona and MOOC development department. By 2017, the university released new courses on edx, two of which were The Ethics of Memory and Artful Medicine: Art's Power to Enrich Patient Care. In January 2018, Brown published its first "game-ified" course called Fantastic Places, Unhuman Humans: Exploring Humanity Through Literature, which featured out of platform games to help learners understand materials, as well as a story-line that immerses users into a fictional world to help characters along their journey.
Admissions and financial aid
For the undergraduate class of 2025 (enrolling in Fall 2021), Brown received 46,568 applications, the largest applicant pool in the university's history. 2,566 were accepted for an acceptance rate of 5.4%, the lowest in university history. For the academic year 2019-20 Brown received were 2,030 transfer applicants, of whom 5.8% were accepted. In 2017, the Graduate School accepted 11% of 9,215 applicants. In 2014, U.S. News ranked Brown's Warren Alpert Medical School the 5th most selective in the country, with an acceptance rate of 2.9 percent.
Brown's admissions policy is stipulated need-blind for all domestic first-year applicants. In 2017, Brown announced that loans would be eliminated from all undergraduate financial aid awards starting in 2018–2019, as part of a new $30 million campaign called the Brown Promise. In 2016–17, the university awarded need-based scholarships worth $120.5 million. The average need-based award for the class of 2020 was $47,940.
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USNWR graduate school rankings
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USNWR departmental rankings
For their 2021 rankings, The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education ranked Brown 5th in the "Best Colleges 2021" edition.
The Forbes magazine annual ranking of "America's Top Colleges 2019"—which ranked 650 research universities, liberal arts colleges and service academies—ranked Brown 7th overall and 7th among universities.
U.S. News & World Report ranked Brown 14th among national universities in its 2021 edition. The 2021 edition also ranked Brown 1st for undergraduate teaching, 20th in Most Innovative Schools, and 18th in Best Value Schools.
Washington Monthly ranked Brown 37th in 2020 among 389 national universities in the U.S. based on its contribution to the public good, as measured by social mobility, research, and promoting public service.
In 2014, Forbes magazine ranked Brown 7th on its list of "America's Most Entrepreneurial Universities". The Forbes analysis looked at the ratio of "alumni and students who have identified themselves as founders and business owners on LinkedIn" and the total number of alumni and students.
LinkedIn particularized the Forbes rankings, placing Brown third (between MIT and Princeton) among "Best Undergraduate Universities for Software Developers at Startups." LinkedIn's methodology involved a career-path examination of "millions of alumni profiles" in its membership database.
According to 2020 data from the U.S. Department of Education, the median starting salary of Brown computer science graduates was the highest in the United States.
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Brown is member of the Association of American Universities since 1933 and is classified among "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity". In FY 2017, Brown spent $212.3 million on research and was ranked 103rd in the United States by total R&D expenditure by National Science Foundation.
In 2014, Brown tied with the University of Connecticut for the highest number of reported rapes in the nation, with its "total of reports of rape" on their main campus standing at 43.
Established in 1950, Spring Weekend is an annual spring music festival for students. Historical performers at the festival have included Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen. More recent headliners include Kendrick Lamar, Young Thug, Daniel Caesar, Anderson .Paak, Mitski, and Mac DeMarco. Since 1960, Spring Weekend has been organized by the student–run Brown Concert Agency.
Residential and Greek societies
Approximately 12 percent of Brown students participate in Greek Life. The university recognizes eleven Greek organizations: six fraternities (Alpha Phi Alpha, Beta Omega Chi, Delta Tau, Delta Phi, Kappa Alpha Psi, and Theta Alpha), four sororities (Alpha Chi Omega, Delta Sigma Theta, Delta Gamma, Kappa Delta, and Kappa Alpha Theta,), one co-ed house (Zeta Delta Xi), and one co-ed literary society (Alpha Delta Phi).
Since the early 1950s, all Greek organizations on campus have been located in Wriston Quadrangle. The organizations are overseen by the Greek Council.
An alternative to Greek-letter organizations are Brown's program houses, which are organized by themes. As with Greek houses, the residents of program houses select their new members, usually at the start of the spring semester. Examples of program houses are St. Anthony Hall (located in King House), Buxton International House, the Machado French/Hispanic/Latinx House, Technology House, Harambee (African culture) House, Social Action House and Interfaith House.
All students not in program housing enter a lottery for general housing. Students form groups and are assigned time slots during which they can pick among the remaining housing options.
Societies and clubs
The earliest societies at Brown were devoted to oration and debate. The Pronouncing Society is mentioned in the diary of Solomon Drowne, class of 1773, who was voted its president in 1771. It seems to have disappeared during the American Revolutionary War. We next hear of the Misokosmian Society, founded in 1794 and renamed the Philermenian Society in 1798. This was effectively a secret society with membership limited to 45. It met fortnightly to hear speeches and debate and thrived until the Civil War; in 1821 its library held 1594 volumes. In 1799, a chapter of the Philandrian Society, also secret, was established at the college. In 1806, the United Brothers was formed as an egalitarian alternative to the Philermenian Society. "These two great rivals," says the university historian, "divided the student body between them for many years, surviving into the days of President Sears. A tincture of political controversy sharpened their rivalry, the older society inclining to the aristocratic Federals, the younger to the Republicans, the democrats of that day. ... The students continuing to increase in number, they outran the constitutional limits of both societies, and a third, the Franklin Society, was established in 1824; it never had the vitality of the other two, however, and died after ten years."
The Cammarian Club—founded in 1893 and taking its name from the Latin for lobster, its members' favorite dinner food—was at first a semi-secret society which "tapped" 15 seniors each year. In 1915, self-perpetuating membership gave way to popular election by the student body, and thenceforward the Club served as the de facto undergraduate student government. In 1971 the organization abandoned the name "Cammarian Club." The successor and present-day organization is known as the Undergraduate Council of Students.
Societas Domi Pacificae, known colloquially as "Pacifica House," is a present-day, self-described secret society. It claims a continuous line of descent from the Franklin Society of 1824, citing a supposed intermediary "Franklin Society" traceable in the nineteenth century. But the intermediary turns out to be, on closer inspection, the well-known Providence Franklin Society, a civic organization unconnected to Brown whose origins and activity are well-documented. It was founded in 1821 by merchants William Grinnell and Joseph Balch, Jr., and chartered by the General Assembly in January 1823. The "Pacifica House" account of this (conflated) Franklin Society cites published mentions of it in 1859, 1876, and 1883. But the first of these (Rhees 1859, see footnote infra) is merely a sketch of the 1824 Brown organization; the second (Stockwell 1876) is a reference-book article on the Providence Franklin Society itself; and the third is the Providence Franklin Society's own publication, which the "Pacifica House" reference mis-ascribes to the "Franklin Society," dropping the word "Providence."
There are over 300 registered student organizations on campus with diverse interests. The Student Activities Fair, during the orientation program, provides first-year students the opportunity to become acquainted with the wide range of organizations. A sample of organizations includes:
- Brown University Undergraduate Council of Students
- The College Hill Independent
- The Brown Daily Herald
- Brown Debating Union
- The Brown Derbies
- Brown International Organization
- Brown Journal of World Affairs
- The Brown Jug
- The Brown Noser
- Brown Opera Productions
- Brown Political Review
- The Brown Spectator
- Brown University Band
- Brown University Orchestra
- The Chattertocks of Brown University
- Chinese Students and Scholars Association
- The College Hill Independent
- Critical Review
- Ivy Film Festival
- Production Workshop
- Starla and Sons
- Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Brown has several resource centers on campus. The centers often act as sources of support as well as safe spaces for students to explore certain aspects of their identity. Additionally, the centers often provide physical spaces for students to study and have meetings. Although most centers are identity-focused, some provide academic support as well.
The Brown Center for Students of Color (BCSC) is a space that provides support for students of color. Established in 1972 at the demand of student protests, the BCSC encourages students to engage in critical dialogue, develop leadership skills, and promote social justice. The center houses various programs for students to share their knowledge and engage in discussion. Programs include the Third World Transition Program, the Minority Peer Counselor Program, the Heritage Series, and other student-led initiatives. Additionally, the BCSC hopes to foster community among the students it serves by providing spaces for students to meet and study.
The Sarah Doyle Women's Center aims to provide a space for members of the Brown community to examine and explore issues surrounding gender. The center was named after one of the first women to attend Brown, Sarah Doyle. The center emphasizes intersectionality in its conversations on gender, encouraging people to see gender as present and relevant in various aspects of life. The center hosts programs and workshops in order to facilitate dialogue and provide resources for students, faculty, and staff.
The 1968 Black Student Walkout
On December 5 of 1968, several Black women from Pembroke College initiated a walkout in protest an atmosphere at the colleges described by Black students as a “stifling, frustrating, [and] degrading place for Black students” after feeling the colleges were non-responsive to their concerns. In total, 65 Black students participated in the walk out. Their principal demand was to increase Black student enrollment to 11% of the student populace, in an attempt to match that of the proportion in the US. This ultimately resulted in a 300% increase in Black enrollment the following year, but some demands have yet to be met.
Brown is a member of the Ivy League athletic conference, which is categorized as a Division I (top level) conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The Brown Bears has one of the largest university sports programs in the United States, sponsoring 32 varsity intercollegiate teams. Brown's athletic program is one of the U.S. News & World Report top 20—the "College Sports Honor Roll"—based on breadth of program and athletes' graduation rates. Brown's newest varsity team is women's rugby, promoted from club-sport status in 2014. Brown women's rowing has won 7 national titles between 1999 and 2011. Brown men's rowing perennially finishes in the top 5 in the nation, most recently winning silver, bronze, and silver in the national championship races of 2012, 2013, and 2014. The men's and women's crews have also won championship trophies at the Henley Royal Regatta and the Henley Women's Regatta. Brown's men's soccer is consistently ranked in the top 20, and has won 18 Ivy League titles overall; recent[when?] soccer graduates play professionally in Major League Soccer and overseas. Brown football, under its most successful coach historically, Phil Estes, won Ivy League championships in 1999, 2005, and 2008. (Brown football's reemergence is credited to its 1976 Ivy League championship team, "The Magnificent Andersons," so named for its coach, John Anderson.) High-profile alumni of the football program include Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien; former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, Heisman Trophy namesake John W. Heisman, and Pollard Award namesake Fritz Pollard. The Men's Lacrosse team also has a long and storied history. Brown women's gymnastics won the Ivy League tournament in 2013 and 2014. Brown varsity equestrian has won the Ivy League championship several times. The Brown women's sailing team has won 5 national championships, most recently in 2019 while the coed sailing team won 2 national championships in 1942 and 1948. Both teams are consistency ranked in the top 10 in the nation.
The first intercollegiate ice hockey game in America was played between Brown and Harvard on January 19, 1898. The first university rowing regatta larger than a dual-meet was held between Brown, Harvard, and Yale at Lake Quinsigamond in Massachusetts on July 26, 1859.
Alumni in politics include U.S. Secretary of State John Hay (1852), U.S. Secretary of State and Attorney General Richard Olney (1856), Chief Justice of the United States and U.S. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes (1881), Governor Bobby Jindal '92 of Louisiana, Senator Maggie Hassan '80 of New Hampshire, Governor Jack Markell '82 of Delaware, Rhode Island Representative David Cicilline '83, Minnesota Representative Dean Phillips '91, 2020 Presidential candidate and entrepreneur Andrew Yang '96, and DNC Chair Tom Perez '83.
Prominent alumni in business and finance include philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. (1897), former Chair of the Federal Reserve and current Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen '67, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim '82, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan '81, CNN founder Ted Turner '60, IBM chairman and CEO Thomas Watson, Jr. '37, co-founder of Starwood Capital Group Barry Sternlicht '82, Apple Inc. CEO John Sculley '61, Blackberry Ltd. CEO John S. Chen '78, Facebook CFO David Ebersman '91, and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi '91. Companies founded by Brown alumni include The Wall Street Journal, Searchlight Pictures, Netgear, W Hotels, Workday, Warby Parker, Casper, Figma, and Cards Against Humanity.
Alumni in the arts and media include actors Emma Watson '14, Daveed Diggs '04, Julie Bowen '91, Tracee Ellis Ross '94, and Jessica Capshaw '98; NPR program host Ira Glass '82; singer-composer Mary Chapin Carpenter '81; humorist and Marx Brothers screenwriter S.J. Perelman '25; novelists Nathanael West '24, Jeffrey Eugenides '83, Edwidge Danticat (MFA '93), and Marilynne Robinson '66; composer and synthesizer pioneer Wendy Carlos '62; journalist James Risen '77; political pundit Mara Liasson; MSNBC host and The Nation editor-at-large Chris Hayes '01; New York Times, publisher A. G. Sulzberger '04, and magazine editor John F. Kennedy, Jr. '83.
Important figures in the history of education include the father of American public school education Horace Mann (1819), civil libertarian and Amherst College president Alexander Meiklejohn, first president of the University of South Carolina Jonathan Maxcy (1787), Bates College founder Oren B. Cheney (1836), University of Michigan president (1871–1909) James Burrill Angell (1849), University of California president (1899–1919) Benjamin Ide Wheeler (1875), and Morehouse College's first African-American president John Hope (1894).
Alumni in the computer sciences and industry include architect of Intel 386, 486, and Pentium microprocessors John H. Crawford '75, inventor of the first silicon transistor Gordon Kidd Teal '31, MongoDB founder Eliot Horowitz '03, and Macintosh developer Andy Hertzfeld '75.
Other notable alumni include "Lafayette of the Greek Revolution" and its historian Samuel Gridley Howe (1821) Governor of Wyoming Territory and Governor of Nebraska John Milton Thayer (1841), Governor of Rhode Island Augustus Bourn (1855), NASA head during first seven Apollo missions Thomas O. Paine '42, diplomat Richard Holbrooke '62, sportscaster Chris Berman '77, Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien '92, 2018 Miss America Cara Mund '16, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno '50, Heisman Trophy namesake John W. Heisman '91, Olympic and world champion triathlete Joanna Zeiger, royals and nobles such as Prince Rahim Aga Khan, Prince Faisal bin Al Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Princess Leila Pahlavi of Iran '92, Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark, Prince Nikita Romanov, Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark, Prince Jaime of Bourbon-Parma, Duke of San Jaime and Count of Bardi, Prince Ra'ad bin Zeid, Lady Gabriella Windsor, Prince Alexander von Fürstenberg, Countess Cosima von Bülow Pavoncelli, and her half-brother Prince Alexander-Georg von Auersperg, David Shrier, American futurist and author, and Olympic gold ('98), silver ('02), and bronze ('06) medal-winning hockey player Katie King-Crowley '97.
Notable past or current faculty have included Nobel Laureates Michael Kosterlitz, Lars Onsager, George Stigler, Vernon L. Smith, George Snell and Leon Cooper; Fields Medal winning mathematician David Mumford, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Gordon S. Wood, Sakurai Prize winning physicist Gerald Guralnik, computer scientist Andries van Dam, engineer Daniel C. Drucker, sociologist Lester Frank Ward, former Prime Minister of Italy and former EU chief Romano Prodi, former President of Brazil Fernando Cardoso, former President of Chile Ricardo Lagos, writers Carlos Fuentes, Chinua Achebe, and Robert Coover, philosopher Martha Nussbaum, developmental psychologist William Damon, linguist Hans Kurath, historian Ibram X. Kendi, political scientist James Morone, biologist Kenneth R. Miller, and Senior Fellow Sergei Khrushchev.
Horace Mann, class of 1819, regarded as the father of American public education
John F. Kennedy Jr., class of 1983, lawyer, journalist, and magazine publisher
Tracee Ellis Ross, class of 1994, Award-winning actress, model, comedienne, and television host
Emma Watson, class of 2014, actress, model, activist
In popular culture
Brown's reputation as an institution with a free-spirited, iconoclastic student body is portrayed in fiction and popular culture. Family Guy character Brian Griffin is a Brown alumnus. The O.C.'s main character Seth Cohen is denied acceptance to Brown while his girlfriend Summer Roberts is accepted. In The West Wing, Amy Gardner is a Brown alumna. In Gossip Girl, New York socialite Serena vies with her friends for a spot at Brown.
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