Brown University is an Ivy League university located in Providence, Rhode Island. It is the third-oldest college in New England and the seventh-oldest in the United States. Brown was the first college in the nation to welcome students of all religious affiliations.
Brown distinguishes itself from its peer institutions through its "New Curriculum." Instituted in 1969, it allows students to more flexibly determine their own educational paths by eliminating distribution requirements and mandatory grading (allowing all courses to be taken on a "satisfactory/no credit" basis).
Brown is notable for, among other things, having the only Egyptology and History of Mathematics departments in the United States. Brown was also one of the first institutions to emphasize media studies, with its department in Modern Culture and Media, where students study film, film criticism, and critical theory.
Admissions to Brown is competitive. For the Class of 2004, the acceptance rate was 15.1% of applicants.
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 female president of Brown.
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 $58,000 in 2003) 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, allegedly including slavery, which has led to some discussion of the role of slavery in Brown's legacy in recent years. In recognition of this history, the university has recently established a special Committee on Slavery and Justice (Brown News Service 2001 (http://www.brown.edu/Research/Slavery_Justice/index.html)).
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 which 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
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.
Brown offers 50 concentrations (majors) and around 2,000 courses each year. The most popular concentration is Biology, followed by History and International Relations. 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
The Graduate School offers 47 different graduate programs.
Brown Medical School
The University's medical program started in 1811. In 1984, the 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. Brown offers a joint program with Dartmouth Medical School called the Brown-Dartmouth 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.
Presidents of Brown University
The Atmosphere at Brown
Some consider Brown to be the "happiest Ivy." The curriculum encourages students to attempt classes in fields in which they have little previous experience and discourages competition. 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 (Perkins 2001 (http://www.browndailyherald.com/stories.asp?storyID=2869)). Brown, like most Ivies, leans liberal. It has long had the reputation of being the "hippest" of the Ivies.
Brown University is also well-known for the sense of "political correctness" that pervades the campus. In fact, it is a long-held rumor that the term "political correctness" (or "PC") was coined at the campus in a satirical anti-left comic strip in the Brown Daily Herald student newspaper.
Greek life does not dominate the social scene at Brown, as only about 9% of the students are in fraternities or sororities. There are seven fraternities, two sororities, and two co-ed fraternities.
Brown is a member of the 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.  (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/college/sports/rankings/honor.htm)
There are approximately 240 registered student organizations on campus with diverse interests. Student Activities Night, during the orientation program, is an opportunity for first-years to become acquainted with the wide range of clubs.
Though the early history of Brown's traditions as a men's school includes a number of unusual hazing traditions, the school's present-day traditions tend to be non-violent while maintaining the spirit of zaniness (Poulson 2004 (http://www.browndailyherald.com/post/stories.asp?ID=84)).
One of Brown's most notable traditions is keeping alive the spirit and accomplishments of Josiah Carberry, the fictional Professor of Psychoceramics (the equally fictional study of cracked pots), who was born on a University Hall billboard. He is the namesake of "Josiah's", a University-run snackbar. "Josiah" is also the name of the University's electronic library catalog (http://josiah.brown.edu).
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 Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald, Bo Diddley, Peter, Paul and Mary, James Brown, Janis Joplin, Ray Charles, Bruce Springsteen, U2, R.E.M., Afrika Bambaata, Elvis Costello, George Clinton, The Fugees, and Sonic Youth. Recent acts include Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Jurassic 5, Reel Big Fish, Sleater-Kinney.
At the end of each semester during "reading period" when students study for exams, naked students walk into the Rockefeller and Science Libraries and hand out donuts to their peers.
Every fall, the Brown University Co-Op's (BACH) throw an invitation-only "naked party" where all guests remove their clothes upon entry. The party is know for good times, but not for lewdness. The hosts aim to create a comfortable setting where people of all body types can celebrate the naked human body.
The Chug 'N Run
One evening during each year's Spring Weekend, athletic/alcoholic Brown students gather down at the India Point Park walking path, lugging countless 30-packs of inexpensive light beer. The entrants in the Chug 'N Run chug a beer, run a mile, chug a beer, run a mile, chug a beer, run a mile, then chug one last victory beer. Not everybody makes it to beer #4, and much comic beer explusion occurs along the way. Less adventurous students can walk the course alongside the runners as part of the "Sip&Stroll". This annual tradition, started by Brown women athletes, involves a surprisingly high number of gung-ho female students.
Alma Mater, we Hail thee with loyal devotion
Ever True To Brown
We are ever true to Brown,
Ever True To Brown (Drinking)
We are ever true to Brown,
Notable alumni and faculty
Several projects of note involving hypertext and other forms of electronic text have been developed at Brown, including: