On a recent Friday night, my wife and I attended a piano concert to benefit the Brown Medical Annual Fund in the new Granoff Center for the Performing Arts on campus. The pianist, Naida Cole, is an internationally known artist who has performed with major orchestras around the world including the Montreal and Toronto symphonies, the London Sinfonietta, the Munich Philharmonic and the Copenhagen Philharmonic. Naida, who is an exclusive recording artist for the Decca label, was described by Gramophone Magazine as a “dazzling star”. The music we heard was magical including Liszt and Faure as well as avant-garde music such as Olivier Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l’enfant-Jesus. The audience was swept away by the young woman’s virtuosity and her passion. Naida is Canadian and is the second youngest student to graduate from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto at age 13 (the youngest was Glenn Gould). You may have guessed that Naida Cole MD‘12 is not only a world famous pianist, but also an excellent fourth year medical student who has done very well in her studies and the mother of a three year old boy. She is an example of the really remarkable students at the Warren Alpert Medical School. Our students not only in the medical school but also in the Programs in Biology and Public Health bring a wide range of interests and achievements which add to the diversity and experience at Brown. You can understand how proud we are of all our students.
Brown’s Corporation meeting and the graduation ceremonies took place this past weekend. As usual they were hectic, uplifting, filled with drama, celebration and pomp and circumstance. The drama included discussions on athletics and a strategic session with Governor Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 and Providence mayor Angel Taveras. Governor Chafee is an advocate for athletic teams (he was wrestling captain at Brown) and in favor of Brown University and the state partnering in the knowledge economy. Mayor Taveras has made no secret of asking non-profit institutions to contribute more to the city finances. As usual, Brown points out that our charter, including tax exempt status, was granted by King George III of England 13 years before the American Revolution.
The celebration included the end of the successful Campaign for Academic Enrichment that raised 1.6 billion dollars. Among other things, this allowed the recruitment of more than 100 additional full time faculty, a dramatic increase in graduate programs and research and establishment of new programs such as the Cogut Center for the Humanities. At the graduation ceremony, Ruth was given the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal in recognition of her first decade of visionary leadership. Established in 1919 the Rosenberger Medal is the highest honor the faculty can bestow and is for “specially notable or beneficial achievement.” The award represents the respect and affection that the Brown community has for its remarkable President.
The graduation—as always—was marked by pomp and circumstance. The medical graduation in the Unitarian Church was wonderful. This year, one of the school’s most famous graduates, Griffin Platt Rodgers ’76 MMS’79 MD’79, addressed the class. Dr. Rodgers is the Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the NIH. He pointed out to the graduates the excitement and opportunities in biomedical research and encouraged them to consider a research career. The 100 graduates and their families were some of the happiest people on the face of the earth. Meanwhile on the main green, honorary degrees were given to some truly remarkable individuals, including Zhenkai Zhao (Bei Dao)., a dissident poet from China whose poetry so frightens the communist government that he has been exiled for decades. Other honorary degrees were awarded to Olympian Katie King Crowley, online editor Arianna Huffington, columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, mathematician David B. Mumford, playwright Lynn Ida Nottage, physicist Lisa Randall, human rights activist Kenneth Roth, astronaut David R. Scott, and last but not least Jack Nicholson, the actor. Jack is very pleasant, and who in person looks just like he does in the movies, eyebrows and sun glasses included.