While the COVID-19 pandemic presented the University with significant challenges in Fiscal Year 2021, our strong mitigation efforts — combined with tremendous market growth and record-breaking fundraising — enabled Brown to close the year in a strong financial position. I am grateful to the members of our extraordinary community who have given generously of their time and resources to ensure that Brown continues to move forward in our ambitious pursuit of academic excellence.
The annual Brown University Financial Report offers an overview of our financial statements, success in fundraising and exceptional investment performance. As you’ll read in the endowment report, the endowment and other managed assets achieved an all-time high of $6.9 billion at the end of the fiscal year, after beginning the year with $4.7 billion in assets. This single-year result is extraordinary, and the growth will have a transformational impact on the University for years to come.
In a record year of fundraising, more than 35,900 generous alumni, parents and friends gave $430.5 million to Brown as part of the BrownTogether comprehensive fundraising campaign. This eclipsed the previous 2018 fundraising record by nearly $10 million. Members of the Brown community came together in support of priorities that will advance academic excellence, increase access to a Brown education and fund research expansion and campus growth. More than $57 million was raised in response to increased need for undergraduate financial aid, and $54.8 million was provided for endowed faculty positions.
In October, Brown was proud to share that the University reached a historic milestone in meeting the $3 billion mark in the BrownTogether campaign a year ahead of schedule. In light of this extraordinary achievement, the campaign will continue with the objective of fulfilling existing funding targets and building investment in new priorities that have emerged since the campaign launched in 2015.
Even with our endowment and fundraising success, Brown finished FY21 with an operating budget deficit of $52.2 million. The negative budget impact reflects ongoing expenses for a robust asymptomatic COVID-19 testing program combined with declines in revenues primarily driven by significant reductions in tuition, room and board and reduced summer programs. While this will be challenging to address in the short-term, Brown’s net assets grew to $7.8 billion in FY21, up 43% over the previous year due to the tremendous market-driven growth. Because the endowment’s contribution to the operating budget is based on the endowment’s average market value over the previous three years, investment returns contributed to the operating budget are expected to steadily increase in each of the coming years.
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, the report focused on the University’s commitment to creating peaceful, just and prosperous societies. The theme for this year’s report is the University’s commitment to using science and technology to improve lives.
The development of new technology is critical to human progress. In an increasingly data-driven world, Brown is at the forefront of discovery in computational and data sciences. The report details ways in which Brown scholars are generating innovative science and scholarship in fields including mathematics, computer science and biostatistics that will contribute to addressing the complex challenges facing society.
You will read about the Center for Computational and Molecular Biology where researchers are using machine learning, artificial intelligence and other revolutionary techniques to fight disease. You’ll discover how researchers in the School of Public Health are using data-driven techniques to improve diagnosis. Meanwhile, the Data Science Initiative is further expanding data science research at Brown and preparing students to thrive in a data-enabled society.
The report demonstrates the ways in which targeted investment is building Brown’s strength as an academic powerhouse in numerous areas while continuing to focus on operational excellence. I am excited to share how Brown is achieving new levels of academic leadership through investment in the people and distinctive programs of the Brown community.
Christina H. Paxson