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Robert A. Brown, a distinguished scholar of chemical engineering, became president of Boston University in September 2005.
A Texas native, Dr. Brown, 60, earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota, where he worked under the guidance of Professor L.E. Scriven. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Sciences, among other professional societies.
At Boston University, Dr. Brown has emphasized strengthening the core missions of undergraduate, graduate and professional education, interdisciplinary work, and research and scholarship across all seventeen schools and colleges. He initiated an eighteen-month planning process that culminated in a ten-year strategic plan, Choosing to be Great. Presented to the Board of Trustees in 2007, the plan articulates Boston University's core values in a set of institutional commitments. It also defines goals to be met in order to establish Boston University as one of the great large private research universities in the world.
Dr. Brown has worked to underscore the central importance of the teaching and research functions of the University, with particular emphasis on efforts to increase opportunities for interdisciplinary study by students from all of the University's undergraduate schools and colleges. Additionally, under Dr. Brown, BU has significantly expanded opportunities for students to study abroad and for international students and scholars to come to Boston.
Dr. Brown is actively engaged in both the public and private sectors. He was appointed a trustee of the Universities Research Association in 2009. Since 2007, he has been a director of the DuPont Company, and that year he was named to the Executive Committee of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts, serving as chair for the 2010-2011 term. From 2006 through 2008, he served on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a panel established to provide a steady stream of expert advice on a wide range of scientific and technical matters for the President of the United States. From 2008 to 2010, he was a trustee of the Aalto University Foundation in Finland.
Dr. Brown is chairman of the Academic Research Council of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Singapore, a key funding body for academic research in that country. He also serves on the Board of Singapore's National Research Foundation. In recognition of his extraordinary contributions to higher education in Singapore, Dr. Brown was named an honorary citizen in January 2006. This award is the highest form of recognition given by the Singapore government to any non-Singaporean.
Prior to his appointment at Boston University, Dr. Brown was provost and Warren K. Lewis Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the MIT faculty in 1979, beginning a distinguished career in education and research. He has published more than 250 papers in areas related to mathematical modeling of transport phenomena in materials and served as executive editor of the Journal of Chemical Engineering Science from 1991 to 2004. In his twenty-five years at MIT, he held a number of leadership positions, including head of the Department of Chemical Engineering and dean of the School of Engineering. He became provost there in 1998.
Dr. Brown lives in Brookline with his wife, Dr. Beverly Brown, director of development for both the Center for Global Health & Development and the Office of Technology Development at Boston University. They have two grown sons.
Thoughts on the Evolution of Chemical Engineering: One MIT Perspective
as author at MIT World: One Host Fits All,