Brown University

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Brown University is an Ivy League university located in Providence, Rhode Island. Founded in 1764 as Rhode Island College, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in New England and the seventh-oldest in the United States. Brown was the first college in the nation to accept students of all religious affiliations.

The Brown "New Curriculum," instituted in 1969, eliminates distribution requirements and mandatory A/B/C grading (allowing any course to be taken on a "satisfactory/no credit" basis).

Admission to Brown is extremely competitive. For 2004-2005, among major research universities that grant doctoral degrees, Brown ranks among the ten most selective institutions with an admissions rate of 14.6%, as reported by the Carnegie Foundation and U.S. News & World Report, which is fifth lowest in the Ivy League. Students come from all 50 U.S. state|states, as well as 65 countries. Brown's financial aid program awards approximately $70 million each year in the form of scholarships, jobs, and loans. Over 50 percent of students receive some form of financial aid.

Brown has the oldest undergraduate engineering program in the Ivy League (1847) and the only undergraduate History of Mathematics department in the world. Brown was also one of the first institutions to emphasize computer science as well as media studies, with its department in Modern Culture and Media, where students study film, film criticism, and critical theory.

Since 2001, Brown's current and 18th president is Ruth J. Simmons, the first African American president, and second female president, of an Ivy League institution, as well as the first permanent female president of Brown.

The school colors are seal brown, cardinal red, and white. Brown's mascot is the bear and the sports teams are called the Bears. The costumed bear mascot named "Bruno" makes appearances at athletic games. The use of a bear as the University's mascot dates back to 1904. People associated with the University are known as List of Brunonians.

In the fall of 2004, billionaire Sidney Frank, who could only afford to attend Brown for one year in his youth, donated an additional $100 million exclusively for financial aid—the largest gift in the university's history. Earlier that year, Frank had given $25 million for the construction of Sidney Frank Hall, the future home of Brown's fast-growing Department of Neuroscience, Department of Cognitive Science, and Department of Linguistic Sciences. In September 2005, Frank made yet another donation of $5 million to aid Brown in providing free tuition for New Orleans students whose colleges had been rendered unusable by Hurricane Katrina just weeks earlier. His donations are one part of Brown's new capital campaign, dubbed "Boldly Brown", to raise $1.4 billion over the next three years, $600 million of which will go towards expanding the school's endowment. Brown parents also serve as large donors, and in 2004 gave more than any other group of non-alumni parents in the Ivy League and the second-most in the country (behind Duke).


The founding of Brown

In 1763, James Manning, a Baptist minister, was sent to Rhode Island by the Philadelphia Association of Baptist Churches in order to found a college. At the same time, local Congregationalists, led by James Stiles, were working toward a similar end. On March 3, 1764, a charter was filed to create Rhode Island College in Warren, Rhode Island, reflecting the work of both Stiles and Manning. The charter had more than 60 signatories, including John and Nicholas Brown of the Brown family, who would give the College its present day name. James Manning, the minister sent to Rhode Island by the Baptists, was sworn in as the College's first president in 1765.

Rhode Island College moved to its present location on College Hill, in the East Side of Providence, in 1770 and construction of the first building, The College Edifice, began. This building was renamed University Hall in 1823. The Brown family -- Nicholas, John, Joseph and Moses -- were instrumental in the move to Providence, funding and organizing much of the construction of the new buildings. The family's connection with the college was strong: Joseph Brown became a professor of Physics at the University and John Brown served as treasurer from 1775 to 1796. In 1804, a year after John Brown's death, the University was renamed in honor of John's nephew, Nicholas Brown, Jr., who was a member of the class of 1786 and contributed $5,000 (which, adjusted for inflation, is approximately $61,000 in 2005, though it was 1,000 times the roughly $5 tuition) toward an endowed professorship. In 1904, the John Carter Brown Library was opened as an independent historical and cultural research center based around the libraries of John Carter and John Nicholas Brown.

The Brown family was involved in various business ventures in Rhode Island, including slavery. The Brown family itself was divided on the issue. John Brown had relentlessly defended slavery, while Moses Brown and Nicholas Brown Jr. were fervent abolitionists. In recognition of this history, the University established the University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice in 2003 ([1]).

Brown began to admit women when it established a Women's College in 1891, which was later named Pembroke College. "The College" (the undergraduate school) merged with Pembroke College in 1971 and became coeducational.

The New Curriculum

Brown adopted the New Curriculum in 1969, marking a major change in the University's institutional history. The curriculum was the result of a paper written by Ira Magaziner and Elliot Maxwell, "Draft of a Working Paper for Education at Brown University." The paper came out of a year-long Group Independent Studies Project (GISP) involving 80 students and 15 professors. The group was inspired by student-initiated experimental schools, especially San Francisco State College, and sought ways to improve education for students at Brown. The philosophy they formed was based on the principle that "the individual who is being educated is the center of the educational process." In 1850, Brown President Francis Wayland wrote: "The various courses should be so arranged that, insofar as practicable, every student might study what he chose, all that he chose, and nothing but what he chose."

The paper made a number of suggestions for improving education at Brown, including a new kind of interdisciplinary freshman course that would introduce new modes of inquiry and bring faculty from different fields together. Their goal was to transform the survey course, which traditionally sought to cover a large amount of basic material, into specialized courses that would introduce the important modes of inquiry used in different disciplines.

The New Curriculum that came out of the working paper was significantly different from the paper itself. Its key features were:

  • Modes of Thought courses aimed at first-year students
  • Interdisciplinary University courses
  • Students could elect to take any course Satisfactory/No Credit
  • Distribution requirements were dropped
  • The University simplified grades to ABC/No Credit, eliminating pluses, minuses and D's. Furthermore, "No Credit" would not appear on external transcripts.

Except for the Modes of Thought courses, a key component of the reforms which have been discontinued, these elements of the New Curriculum are still in place.

The University is currently in the process of broadening and expanding its curricular offerings as part of the "Plan for Academic Enrichment." The number of faculty has been greatly expanded. Seminars aimed at freshmen have begun to be offered widely by many departments.


The College


Brown offers over 100 concentrations (majors) and around 2,000 courses each year. The most popular concentration is Biology, followed by History and International Relations. Brown's undergraduate concentration in Biomedical Ethics is the oldest program in the subject in the country. Undergraduates can also design an independent concentration if the existing standard programs do not befit their interests.

The following is a list of concentrations:

The Graduate School

Graduate programs

The Graduate School offers more than 50 different graduate programs:

Brown Medical School

The University's medical program started in 1811, but the school was suspended by President Wayland in 1827. In 1975, the first M.D. degrees of the modern era were awarded to a graduating class of 58 students. In 1984, Brown endorsed an eight-year medical program called the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME). The majority of openings for the first-year medical school class are reserved for PLME students. Each year, approximately 60 students matriculate into the PLME out of an applicant pool of about 1,600.

In addition, Brown offers a joint program with Dartmouth Medical School called the Brown-Dartmouth Medical Program. Approximately 15 students at Dartmouth Medical School enroll in this program annually. They spend the first two basic medical science years at Dartmouth and the next two years in clinical education at Brown, where they receive their M.D. degree. In June 2005, however, the deans of both schools announced that the Brown-Dartmouth program would accept its final class in the fall of 2006, stating that the institutions desired to move in their own directions.

Several other admission pathways exist. The Early Identification Program (EIP) encourages 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 to BMS. In 2004, the school once again began to accept applications via the "standard route", from pre-medical students at any college or university. For the Class of 2009, nine students were accepted via this route.

BMS also offers combined degree programs leading to the M.D./Ph.D. or M.D./M.P.H. degrees.

Presidents of Brown University

President Brown Class Life Tenure Events
1. James Manning - 1738-1791 1765-1791 Rhode Island College established
2. Jonathan Maxcy 1787 1768-1820 1792-1802
3. Asa Messer 1790 1769-1836 1802-1826 Renamed as Brown University; first Medical School founded
4. Francis Wayland - 1796-1865 1827-1855 Med School Suspended
5. Barnas Sears 1825 1802-1880 1855-1867
6. Alexis Caswell 1822 1799-1877 1868-1872
7. Ezekiel Gilman Robinson 1838 1815-1894 1872-1889 Graduate study instituted
8. Elisha Benjamin Andrews 1870 1844-1917 1889-1898 Women's College founded
9. William H.P. Faunce 1880 1859-1930 1899-1929 Women's College renamed to Pembroke College
10. Clarence A. Barbour 1888 1867-1937 1929-1937 Last of long line of Baptist minister Presidents
11. Henry M. Wriston - 1889-1978 1937-1955
12. Barnaby C. Keeney - 1914-1980 1955-1966
13. Ray L. Heffner - 1925- 1966-1969 New Curriculum passed
14. Donald F. Hornig - 1920- 1970-1976 Pembroke merged with Brown, Medical School founded
15. Howard R. Swearer - 1932-1991 1977-1988
16. Vartan Gregorian - 1934- 1989-1997
17. E. Gordon Gee - 1944- 1998-2000
18. Ruth J. Simmons - 1945- 2001-

Student life


Brown's campus is located atop College Hill, in the city's East Side neighborhood, across the Providence River from downtown Providence. The East Side is home to the largest remaining collection of historic colonial homes in the country. Adjacent to the University is the campus of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). The two institutions share social, academic, and community resources. They also offer joint courses, and students at each institution may cross-register in courses offered by the other institution.


Princeton Review ranks Brown third among all American colleges for "happiest students."[2] Brown was recently named "the most fashionable school in the Ivy League" by the fashion trade journal Women's Wear Daily on the basis that students on campus seem to have the strongest sense of personal style. Brown, like most Ivies, leans Left (liberal) in the Left-Right political spectrum.


Brown is home to an active on-campus nightlife. A wide array of parties take place on the weekends, most of them in dorms and off-campus houses. Greek life is restricted to a fraction of the Brown student body, though they do take the spotlight during the annual Spring Weekend. Some parties, such as the Queer Alliance’s debauched SexPowerGod and Starfuck, are annual occurrences.


Brown is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Ivy League athletic conference. It sponsors 37 varsity intercollegiate teams. Its athletics program has been featured in the College Sports Honor Roll as one of the top 20 athletic programs in the country according to U.S. News & World Report. [3] Brown also features several competitive intercollegiate club sports, including its nationally ranked sailing, Taekwondo, and Ultimate teams. In 2005, the men's ultimate frisbee team won the national championship, and the football team won its first-ever outright Ivy League title.

Student groups

There are approximately 240 registered student organizations on campus with diverse interests. The Student Activities Fair, during the orientation program, is an opportunity for first-years to become acquainted with the wide range of clubs.

Residential / Greek

9% of Brown students are in fraternities and just over 1% are in sororities. There are eleven residential Greek houses: six all-male fraternities (Alpha Epsilon Pi, Delta Tau, Delta Phi, Theta Delta Chi, Sigma Chi, and Phi Kappa Psi), two sororities (Alpha Chi Omega and Kappa Alpha Theta), two co-ed fraternities (Delta Psi and Zeta Delta Xi), and a co-ed literary society (Alpha Delta Phi). All recognized Greek letter organizations live on-campus in University-owned dorm housing. Ten of the houses are overseen by the Greek Council and are located on Wriston Quadrangle. St. Anthony Hall, a co-ed fraternity (Delta Psi) that does not participate in Greek Council, is located in King House. Greek letter organizations that "discriminate on the basis of race" are not sanctioned, forcing groups like the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, an African American fraternity, to operate off-campus.

An alternative to fraternity life at Brown are the program houses, which are organized around various themes. As with Greek houses, the existing residents of each house take applications from students returning for the fall semester. Examples of program houses include: Environmental House, International House, French/Spanish House, Art House, Technology House, and Interfaith House.

Secret societies

Like most other Ivies, secret societies have existed at Brown since the mid-18th century. They originated as literary clubs and organized disputes among their members, a forensic tradition that continues today in the Brown Debating Union. The first known literary society was Athenian at Queen's, founded in 1776, but this group disbanded by the mid-1780's. The Philermenian Society (founded as the Misokosmian Society) arose in 1794. In reaction to the Federalist Philermenians, a Democratic-Republican society called the United Brothers Society was formed in 1806; and in 1824 a third club, the Franklin Society, was formally recognized by the university president. All of these societies had libraries and meeting rooms on the top floor of Hope College, and few written documents were preserved in order to protect against inter-society espionage. By the mid-19th century, these societies diminished and eventually dissolved on account of the growth in the number of Greek letter fraternities. In recent years, the Society of the Pacifica House has claimed to be the sole remaining secret society at Brown, although this has not been verified.


File:Van Wickle in snow.jpg
The Van Wickle Gates (1901) in the middle of a Providence winter

Though the early history of Brown's traditions as a men's school includes a number of unusual hazing traditions, the University's present-day traditions tend to be non-violent while maintaining the spirit of zaniness (Poulson 2004).

Van Wickle Gates

The Van Wickle Gates, dedicated on June 18, 1901, have a pair of center gates and a smaller gate on each side. The side gates remain open throughout the year, while the center gates remain closed except for two occasions each year. At the beginning of the academic year, the center gates open inward to admit students during Convocation. At the end of the second semester, the gates open outward for the Commencement Day procession. A traditional superstition is that students who pass through the gates for a second time before graduation do not graduate. Undergraduate members of the Brown Band who must pass through the gates during the Commencement ceremonies walk through it backwards. Formerly, the graduation superstition only applied to male students, as female students had their own fear of never marrying. Similar superstitions apply to the Pembroke seal on the stone steps leading to the Pembroke quad from Meeting Street, a holdover from when Pembroke College was a separate college for women. Another traditional superstition is that students rub the nose of the statue of John Hay in the John Hay Library for good luck on exams, a superstition that has been in effect since around 1910, resulting in a very shiny nose.

Josiah S. Carberry

One of Brown's most notable traditions is keeping alive the spirit and accomplishments of Josiah S. Carberry, the fictional Professor of Psychoceramics (the equally fictional study of cracked pots), who was born on a University Hall billboard in 1929. He is the namesake of "Josiah's", a University-run snackbar. "Josiah" is also the name of the University's electronic library catalog. Every Friday the 13th is "Josiah Carberry Day" and students throw pennies into cracked pots on campus.

Spring Weekend

Starting in 1960, Brown replaced a traditional Junior Dance with a Spring Weekend concert on the college's main green, which has, in the past, brought in acts such as Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Janis Joplin, Ike and Tina Turner, Blue Öyster Cult, U2, R.E.M., Elvis Costello, A Tribe Called Quest, George Clinton, The Fugees, Busta Rhymes, and G. Love & Special Sauce. Recent acts include They Might Be Giants, Ben Harper, The Get Up Kids, The Roots, The Wallflowers, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, Jurassic 5, Ben Folds, Howie Day, The Shins, and Talib Kweli.

Other Campus Traditions

Naked donut run

At the end of each semester, usually on the night before the first day of exams (the last day of "reading period"), naked students walk (despite the word "run" in the name) through the Rockefeller and Sciences Libraries and hand out donuts to their peers. Neither the organization nor the precise timing of the "run" are publicly known, with the recruitment of participants usually occurring within 24 hours of the actual run. The role of head organizer is secretly passed from an upperclassman to an underclassman every year or two, and has usually been associated with one of the campus's co-ed fraternities or residential co-ops. If a naked donut run fails to occur during a semester, a new organizer will often take up the tradition the following term.

Naked party

Every fall, the Brown Association for Cooperative Housing (BACH) throws an invitation-only "naked party" where all guests remove their clothes upon entry. The hosts aim to create a comfortable setting where people of all body types can celebrate the naked human body. In contrast to the sexually suggestive dancing that can be found at many college parties, dancing at a "naked party" is paradoxically much more tame and devoid of physical contact.

Miscellaneous traditions

  • Seniors sleep in the Sciences Library some time before graduation.
  • Students have sex on the 13th floor of the Sciences Library. The restroom is usually used by all but the most adventuresome of students.
  • Students attempt to complete the "SciLi Challenge," a shot of liquor on each of the library's 14 floors.
  • It is said that a student who enters all seven of the Brown libraries during his or her first year will never marry anyone of the opposite sex.

Brown songs

Alma Mater
By James Andrews DeWolf (1861)

Alma Mater! we hail thee with loyal devotion,
And bring to thine altar our off'ring of praise;
Our hearts swell within us, with joyful emotion,
As the name of old Brown in loud chorus we raise.
The happiest moments of youth's fleeting hours,
We've passed, 'neath the shade of these time-honored walls,
And sorrows as transient as April's brief showers
Have clouded our life in Brunonia's halls.
And when we depart from thy friendly protection,
And boldly launch out upon life's stormy main,
We'll oft look behind us, with grateful affection,
And live our bright college days over again.
When from youth we have journeyed to manhood's high station,
And hopeful young scions around us have grown,
We'll send them, with love and deep veneration,
As pilgrims devout, to the shrine of Old Brown.
And when life's golden autumn with winter is blending,
And brows, now so radiant, are furrowed by care;
When the blightings of age on our heads are descending.
With no early friends all our sorrows to share; -
Oh! then, as in memory backward we wander,
And roam the long vista of past years adown,
On the scenes of our student life often we'll ponder,
And smile, as we murmur the name of Old Brown.

Ever True To Brown - Official fight song
By Donald Jackson (1909)

We are ever true to Brown,
For we love our college dear,
And wherever we may go,
We are ready with a cheer,
And the people always say,
That you can't outshine Brown Men,
With their Rah! Rah! Rah!
And their Ki! Yi! Yi!
And their B-R-O-double U-N!

"Modern" Version

We are ever true to Brown,
For we love our college dear,
And wherever we may go (where are we going?)
We are ready with a beer.
And the people always say (what do they say?)
That you can't out drink Brown men (and women!)
With a scotch and rye and a whiskey dry,
And a B-O-U-R-B-O-N.

I'm A Brown Man Born

Here's to good old Brown, drink her down, drink her down.
Here's to good old Brown, drink her down, drink her down.
Here's to good old Brown, she's the jolliest place in town,
Drink her down, drink her down, drink her down, down, down.

I'm a Brown man born, and a Brown man bred,
And when I die, I'll be a Brown man dead.
For it's rah, rah, Bruno-nonia, rah, rah, Bruno-nonia,
Rah, rah, Bruno-nonia, Brown Brown Brown.

Oh, we beat Harvard and we beat Yale,
And we tied a knot in the Tiger's tail.
For it's rah, rah, Bruno-nonia, rah, rah, Bruno-nonia,
Rah, rah, Bruno-nonia, Brown Brown Brown.

Oh, we beat Dartmouth and we beat Penn,
But that was back in 1910!
For it's rah, rah, Bruno-nonia, rah, rah, Bruno-nonia,
Rah, rah, Bruno-nonia, Brown Brown Brown.

(Played after each ice hockey goal)

Come and give a loud and lusty,
For our team so tried and trusty,
Ki-yi-yi boys come now
Come give a good hearty ki-yi-yi.


  • The John Hay library contains three books bound in human skin: a 1568 edition of Vesalius' De Humani Corporis Fabrica and two 19th century editions of "The Dance of Death," a medieval morality tale. According to Associated Press reporter M.L. Johnson, other large university libraries also have such volumes, and quotes a rare book cataloger as saying that while the idea of making leather from human skin seems bizarre and cruel today, it was not uncommon in centuries past.

Computing projects

Several projects of note involving hypertext and other forms of electronic text have been developed at Brown, including:

In addition, the Computer Science department at Brown is home to The CAVE, part of the Thomas J. Watson, Sr. Center for Information Technology. This project is a complete virtual reality room, one of few in the world, and is used for everything from three-dimensional drawing classes to tours of the circulatory system for medical students.


See also

External links


    • Official campus maps:
      • Welcome Map in PDF or JPEG format
      • Visitor Map in PDF format

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Original Wiki source: Wikipedia