Brown Universityby Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
Posted on 2014-02-26
WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, this March, Providence, RI,
celebrates the 250th anniversary of the founding of Brown University,
known as one of the world's great universities.
In 1764, the American Colonies were on a headlong course toward Revolution. Many of those who would lead the charge to independence also had a hand in establishing this great American college. Among the founding Fellows and Trustees of what was then called the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations were future signers of the Declaration of Independence, delegates to the Continental Congress and Congress of the Confederation, and members of the prominent Brown family of Providence. One of them, John Brown, was later in the 1772 attack on the royal customs vessel HMS Gaspee in Narragansett Bay, an act of violence against the crown that drew the first British blood in the conflict that led to the American Revolution, more than a year before the Boston Tea Party.
Since then, prominent Brunonians have included Secretaries of State John Hay and Charles Evans Hughes, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, and our own Governor Lincoln Chafee and Congressman David Cicilline, to name just a few. For two and a half centuries, bright and eager young Americans have arrived in Providence's beautiful College Hill neighborhood, greeted by historic architecture and the famous Van Wickle Gates. They brought their ambition and their talent and, inevitably, they left their mark and continue to leave their mark--on our State and our Nation.
Today, Brown University is a hub of research, innovation, and learning, and an integral partner in our capital city's culture and economy. As a magnet for talent and resources, Brown has helped fuel Providence's Knowledge District, and the university itself is the fifth-largest private employer in Rhode Island. Brown's Alpert Medical School has helped bolster our State's leadership in the health care field, with more than 1,700 physicians--43 percent of all physicians in the State--affiliated with the school. And Brown's heralded BrainGate program famously helped Cathy Hutchinson use a robotic arm to pick up a cup of coffee and take a sip 15 years after a stroke left her paralyzed and unable to speak. These and countless other contributions continue to put Rhode Island on the forefront of the innovation economy, and I am grateful for Brown's role in driving our Ocean State forward.
Brown is a wonderful place. As I travel the country and encounter Brown [[Page S1172]] graduates, and attend Brown functions and meet undergraduates, I have been struck at how much they love this college. For a great many of our best and brightest high school seniors, Brown is their decided first choice among all the great universities of the world.
In its original charter, it was said that Brown, ``to which the youth may freely resort for education in the vernacular and learned languages, and in the liberal arts and sciences, would be for the general advantage and honor of the government.'' Two hundred fifty years later, it is clear that Brown has lived up to that expectation.
I am proud to congratulate the president of Brown University, Christina Hull Paxson, Brown's trustees and faculty, and its students and alumni on 250 remarkable years.