BlogDH + UCS Present: 7 things you should know about President Paxson’s Strategic Plan

Last week, President Paxson unveiled her Strategic Plan to the Brown community, in which she outlines series of changes and emphasizes key priorities that will impact the University in the coming years. Need a SparkNotes version of the lengthy plan? BlogDH and UCS have teamed up to explain Paxson’s key priorities and how they will affect your life here at Brown. The plan addresses:

1) Expanding physical campus.
 Can we build it? Yes we can! Paxson has indicated her plans to revamp spaces on College Hill for academic, residential, and social purposes. For one, she acknowledges that the Ratty is “long overdue for renovation” (!!!!!) and indicates that “collaborations with private-sector developers” may be in the works to expand housing options for undergraduates and graduates alike. Additionally, Paxson plans to “renovate College Hill for academic departments, centers, and new initiatives in space freed up by the movement of administrative functions to the Jewelry District” (9). But this isn’t the only way your concept of campus will change:
(BlogDH) Christina the Builder
2) …and building a virtual campus. 
All hail the interwebz!  In an era in which everyone is connected (and everyone has a Facebook, including BlogDH’s muse, KBerge), Paxson prioritizes creating a “robust virtual campus that enhances the connections between members of the Brown community” (2). This means that the University will find ways to tie Community members together online. This may include connecting professors with alums after they graduate, or bringing students who studied abroad into the classroom to talk about their experiences. If being connected with Brown faculty, students, staff, alumni, and being connected with others on LinkedIn isn’t enough—now we can all say “hi” to one another as we pass one another on the virtual Main Green! We love continuity at Brown, and these connections will encourage Brunonians of all ages and class years to leverage each other as resources. Just tryna stay connected, you know?

3) Improving Financial Aid. 
In recent years, students have pushed the University to lighten the burden placed on middle-class and high-need students, and President Paxson says there will be “special attention paid” in this area. In fact, this plan pledges to “annually reassess scholarship support for all aided international students” (7). Students in the past years have advocated for universal need-blind financial aid, and the plan promises to “work toward” this goal. However, some students have expressed concern at the lack of prioritization of this timeline for implementation. (A recent Letter to the Editor in the Herald has further information on one student’s opinion.)

4) Creating international programs. Where in the world are Brown students? The answer to that question will become more complicated as Paxson maintains her promise to expand opportunities for international study and work.  She hopes to “develop ‘Brown in the World’ courses that integrate coursework with international experiences. These programs will take advantage of the expertise of the Swearer Center for Public Service and be connected by an overarching Program in Engaged Scholarship…” (5). This could create new opportunities for students interested in studying abroad or taking time off to work in other countries. Needless to say, your studies just became even more worldly.

(BlogDH) Paxson San Diego

5) Implementing possible changes to the Academic Calendar. “We will consider changes to the academic calendar that will facilitate opportunities for students to conduct research or undertake internships away from campus in times other than the summer.” (5)While not entirely clear, it’s certainly an interesting prospect. Quarter system? Trimesters? Even longer winter breaks? Who knows. There has been movement to allow more flexibility with schedules, which would hopefully permit students to take opportunities that support their academic goals.

6) Ensuring that Brunonians become comfortable with big data. Get ready to add “data analysis” in the skills section of your resume: “Brown must ensure that all members of the Brown community – not only those in fields that have long emphasized data analysis – have the resources needed to become fluent with data. At the undergraduate level, we will support data fluency as a learning goal with a new menu of courses offered in a range of disciplines” (6). This is especially important, as data truly is a universal language, and several interdisciplinary professions rely on data to draw conclusions. (Humanities concentrators: It’s not as scary as it sounds! We promise!)

7) Rolling out the concept of the Sophomore Seminar. How much did you loooove your FYS? Get excited—a similar concept will be rolled out into your sophomore year! “We propose to develop new sophomore seminars, modeled on the successful first year seminar program, that provide students with small, discussion-based classes addressing critical questions of identity, equity, and justice” (5). All important issues to be discussed in your Sophomore Seminar… plus excessive usage of the words “heteronormative” and “unpack.” Rock on.

480629_10151244999055834_1069630018_nTake the opportunity in the next few weeks to voice your opinions on these future priorities—in forums and online polls. In the “oh-so inquisitive nature” of Brown students, ask questions about other aspects of campus that aren’t in the plan, too!  For example, there’s no mention of advising or other resources for undergrads (Ed.-Where my Meiklejohns at?). And the phrase ‘University-College,’ used in Brown’s mission statement to describe the small college-like atmosphere in which students and faculty work closely with one another, isn’t in the plan, either. Isn’t that why we all applied to Brown in the first place? That’s where you come in—talk to your friends, take some time to think about these issues, and how they’ll add value to your degree or change the Brown that you know and love.


  1. wait, this article is 1000000000000x better than the UCS email. thanks for putting this together, blog.

  2. BrownLOLBot


  3. Ira8

    WRIT reqs and now data analysis reqs are the beginning of the end of the Open Curriculum.

  4. lolbot2

    Paxson sucks. Half of our dorms don’t even get fucking wifi! And she wants to create a virtual campus? Seriously go play in traffic.

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