Following the release of a draft plan in November that set aside $100 million for the initiative, Brown faced significant backlash from community stakeholders who claimed not enough money had been allocated. As a result, the administration’s leadership solicited feedback until early January and subsequently updated its plan. The final version — called Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion: An Action Plan for Brown University — will direct $10 million to Brown’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, $10 million to the school’s Center on the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, $100 million to 25 endowed faculty positions, $20 million to co-curricular activities and $25 million to graduate fellowships.
The finalized plan comes as Yale is also taking steps to address similar diversity concerns following student protests and demands last fall. Brown’s diversity and inclusion initiative comes on the heels of Yale’s own $50 million faculty diversity initiative, announced in November, which will primarily be used to support tenure-track positions for diverse faculty members. Beyond the faculty diversity initiative, the University is also committed to establishing four new tenure track positions for scholars whose studies focus on underrepresented communities, and to creating a new center on race and ethnicity.
Brown’s financial commitment to the new initiative will constitute 5.5 percent of its $3 billion donation drive, a campaign which will add to the university’s $3.3 billion endowment. Yale’s commitment is not part of a larger fundraising effort and the $50 million commitment constitutes less than 0.2 percent of Yale’s $25.6 billion endowment.
University President Peter Salovey told the News Wednesday morning that he has yet to review the details of Brown’s plans. While the financial commitments made in Brown’s plan appear to be greater than those at Yale, Salovey said it is “very challenging” to compare cost estimates of different initiatives, as some allocations are related to a school’s annual budget and some are related to the endowment.
Still, he said Brown’s initiative is a sign of an ongoing nationwide trend concerning racism and discrimination on college campuses.
“It’s clear that campuses all over the country recognize that inclusion is an important issue that needs to be addressed at multiple levels – faculty, staff, student, alumni. My sense speaking generally is that the Brown plan is that kind of comprehensive attempt,” Salovey said.
Brown University Provost Richard Locke told the News that Salovey’s call for a “better Yale” last fall did not influence Brown’s actions. Rather, he said Brown’s plan reflects the university’s initial draft and the feedback the university subsequently received.
Still, Salovey said Yale and its peer institutions naturally share best practices.
Locke said Brown settled upon its financial commitment to the plan last summer, adding that the final version of the plan simply explains how the university intends to distribute the money.
Beyond the difference in financial commitment, Brown’s initiative also differs from Yale’s faculty diversity initiative in its scope.
At a recent meeting with graduate students about faculty diversity, Deputy Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity Richard Bribiescas said that Yale’s $50 million initiative will primarily be used toward supporting tenure-track positions for diverse faculty members. In contrast, Brown’s initiative has allocated $100 million towards 25 endowed fellowships, and will also fund two centers and graduate fellowships.
On Wednesday night, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway said he had not had the chance to read Brown’s report on its new initiative. However, he said, there are conceptual similarities between Brown’s initiative and Yale’s own faculty diversity initiative, based on his preliminary understanding.
He also noted some differences, particularly regarding the amount of time Brown spent drafting its initiative. Holloway said Brown had been working on the report for a year before it released its draft for public comment. Yale, by contrast, has not spent as much time conducting a systematic analysis of its previous initiatives, but is doing so now by examining diversity at all levels. Holloway also noted Yale’s plans to create a scholarly center related to the study of race and ethnicity. However, he stressed that the emphasis should not be placed on comparing the different institutions, but rather on the broad national movement to reexamine diversity and inclusion on college campuses.
Haylee Kushi ’18, who works at the Native American Cultural Center, said it is difficult to imagine that campus diversity issues will be solved by financial initiatives, as many of the problems currently faced by Yale are systemic. However, she praised the specificity of Brown’s initiative.
“It is really good because it is very concrete,” she said. “The biggest criticism about Yale’s response to the protest was that it was very vague and leaves the opportunity for change to not actually happen.”
Yale’s $50 million diversity initiative will span over the next five years.