Like all universities, Brown has faced incredible financial and operational challenges this past year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. I continue to be inspired by the dedication of members of the Brown community who continue to generously give of their time, creativity and personal support for each other as we all navigate new dimensions of the work we do in education, research and campus operations every day. Through the deep commitment of Brown community members on and off campus, Brown remains strong both financially and in its drive to pursue ambitious plans for excellence.
The annual Brown University Financial Report offers an overview of our financial statements, success in fundraising and investment performance. Covering Fiscal Year 2020, this year’s report highlights the ways in which the financial markets and growth of the economy created opportunities for excellent financial results for Brown even in the midst of an unprecedented global health crisis.
As outlined in the Financial Statement Overview of the report, Brown’s net assets grew to $5.5 billion for FY20, up 8% over the previous year. Brown also benefited from a remarkable 12.1% investment return on the endowment and other managed assets, significantly outperforming its benchmarks. This appreciation in value represents $504 million in investment gains and brings the endowment and other managed assets to an all-time high of $4.7 billion. This is particularly noteworthy at a time when the acute financial impact of the pandemic will prompt a larger draw on endowment resources.
Generous alumni, parents and friends gave $321.2 million as part of the BrownTogether campaign, propelling Brown to surpass the $2.5 billion mark in this $3 billion campaign. The philanthropy of more than 32,000 donors drove Brown to its third-most successful fundraising year in University history. Reaching this milestone despite the challenges of this year reflects the deep affinity our community has for Brown.
Members of the Brown community also gave more than $22.3 million to contribute to the public health and safety measures needed to support students and employees in light of the pandemic. This extraordinary generosity helped to offset the costs of unanticipated travel for students, technology and other health and safety needs.
In addition to reporting on Brown’s financial health, the financial report provides an opportunity to share progress in key areas of the University’s strategic plan, Building on Distinction: A New Plan for Brown. Last year, in light of reaching the midpoint of this 10-year plan, the financial report celebrated the progress made across the University in pursuing investments and aligning resources to build strength in the foundational areas of the plan. The theme for this year’s report is the University’s commitment to creating peaceful, just and prosperous societies.
As our nation and world grapple with the complex and urgent challenges of economic inequality, systemic racism, political polarization and climate instability, Brown has positioned itself as a leader in social policy and international and public affairs. The report details ways in which Brown scholars are developing evidence-based solutions and leading national conversations to address these pressing challenges.
You will read about the efforts the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice took to convene scholars and activists amid widespread Black Lives Matter demonstrations, as well as the steps the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America has taken to examine the root causes of systemic racism and the hurdles to economic equality. You’ll learn about the inclusive forums fostered by the Political Theory Project to give students the opportunity to engage with a wide diversity of viewpoints, and the research at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs that at times has led to significant legislative and policy changes.
The report demonstrates the ways in which targeted investments continue to position Brown to achieve a higher level of academic and operational excellence. I am excited to share how Brown’s investments in people and programs that have a meaningful impact on society continue to contribute to Brown’s distinction.
Christina H. Paxson