Brown University gears up to celebrate 250th anniversary

Brown University President Christina Paxson is inviting the surrounding community to join the university this March in celebrating its 250th anniversary. More

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Brown University gears up to celebrate 250th anniversary

COURTESY BROWN UNIVERSITY
A 20TH-CENTURY silk-screened copy depicts the first published illustration of the Brown University campus, probably drawn around 1795. This year, Brown is getting ready to celebrate its 250th anniversary with a series of public events beginning March 7-8.
Posted 1/29/14

PROVIDENCE – Brown University President Christina Paxson is inviting the community to join the university this March in celebrating its 250th anniversary.

Early in 1764, “the General Assembly of the Governor and Company of the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in New England, in America” met to consider establishing the colony’s first college. In March, they approved what became Brown’s charter.

Paxson announced late Tuesday that Brown’s celebration will begin with a two-day launch party on Friday, March 7, and Saturday, March 8, and continue through the 2015 commencement in May.

“Colonial-era Rhode Islanders knew that higher education would be essential for constructing a strong, just, free and prosperous civil society,” said Paxson. “Our 250th anniversary celebration begins with a university open house, honoring that original vision and exploring what Rhode Island communities and Brown University have been able to achieve.”

The university has launched a website – “Imagine Brown 250+” – at www.250.brown.edu where participants can track events and register. The website also features an interactive timeline of Brown’s first 250 years, which includes the oldest known moving pictures taken at Brown, from the 1915 Commencement.

The celebration on March 7 will begin at 8:15 a.m. with the arrival of more than 250 seventh and eighth graders, and their teachers, guidance counselors and chaperones from three dozen public schools around the state. Students will embark on a morning of academic exploration and discovery, ranging from exploring archaeological digs and modern dance to examining the aerodynamics of paper airplanes, activities led by Brown faculty and graduate students.

The middle-school guests will meet and talk with Paxson in the Salomon Center at the start of their day, have lunch with Brown students, and start the trip home after performances by the Brown Band, a cappella groups and other student artists.

“Brown’s mission involves the discovery and transmission of knowledge across generations,” Paxson said. “How better to begin celebrating the excitement of discovery than to invite hundreds of middle school students to visit campus and plunge right in?”

Other highlights of the first day of celebration include a keynote address at 2:30 p.m. by Dr. Jim Yong Kim, a 1982 Brown graduate and president of the World Bank, for which tickets, available without charge, will be required. A variety of exhibitions and performances will continue until 10 p.m.

On March 8, the opening weekend will continue with a day-long open house celebrating higher education and an invitation to the public to explore the university. There will be open laboratories, faculty demonstrations, tours of campus and the athletic facilities, lectures, galleries, performances and public discussions.

The Nelson Fitness Center will be open during the day for use by guests.

The Saturday keynote address will be delivered at 2 p.m. by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, a 1983 Brown graduate.

Paxson will also convene a series of public discussions that examine several current global issues. The inaugural President’s Colloquium on the Virtues of a Liberal Education will include three conversations: “Bridging the Great Divide: Politics, Polarization, and Progress in 21st Century America;” “ABCs, Bits, Bytes, and MP3s: Technology and its Impact on a Liberal Education;” and “Disagreement and Dissent: The Role of Revolution in Shaping Our World.”

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