With twin announcements last week concerning its School of Engineering, Brown University revealed and emphasized the direction it is taking over the next few years.
When Brown established the engineering school in 2010, after more than 160 years as an academic program, the institution stated that it wanted to expand its reach and profile. Not clear was where all that should happen.
Extensive surveys of faculty, staff and students, as well as a study of student-enrollment patterns and faculty collaboration, revealed that the engineering school is not an isolated part of the institution, with engineering and nonengineering students taking many classes within the school but also across the liberal arts curriculum – and campus – at Brown.
Thus, it was clear the school must remain physically connected to the rest of the College Hill campus as it grows.
The plan calls for an additional 100,000 square feet of teaching and lab space, as well as upgrades to existing facilities. In addition, graduate-student enrollment is expected to grow by 50 percent (or 50 to 75 students), while adding 15 faculty members to bring the total to 60, among other things.
Lawrence Larson, dean of the school, said that recent receipt of gifts totaling $44 million were a first step in what is expected to be a $160 million campaign goal to fund the changes Brown wants to undertake.
Brown has been meeting with city and state officials, as well as neighborhood groups, to explain its plan, although until the fundraising is further along, there are no specific building concepts to share. Instead, Russell Carey, executive vice president for planning and policy, said that whatever new buildings are constructed on the east end of campus, between Brook and Hope streets, south of Waterman and north of George, will conform to existing zoning regulations for the neighborhood and will not require Brown to buy any additional land.
Carey also emphasized that while it may mean a denser use of the area, it’s more about “trying to be more efficient and more effective of the use of space than currently,” adding that the plan will include more green space than is currently seen there. •