After eight years at Barnard, Chief Operating Officer Greg Brown, who Barnard President Debora Spar called her “right hand,” will be leaving in April after accepting a position at Swarthmore College.
Barnard Dean Avis Hinkson, BC ’84, TC ’87, informed students of Brown’s departure in an email sent Tuesday afternoon, which included a detailed and personal message from Spar thanking and congratulating Brown on the new position. He will be Swarthmore’s vice president for finance and administration beginning in June.
“The move is an exciting one for Greg, with a new setting and new problems to solve, and there’s no doubt that he will take it on with his signature level-headedness, intelligence, and commitment,” Spar said in the email.
Brown joined Barnard in 2006 as the vice president for finance and planning, and became became COO in 2009. Spar said that during his tenure, “he has changed the way we do business, all for the better.”
Brown currently oversees Finance, Human Resources, Campus Services (Facilities, Public Safety, and Events Management), Barnard College Information Technology, and the General Counsel. He led the financing and opening of the Diana Center, instituted improvements to Barnard’s computing and administrative systems, and redesigned the administrators’ performance evaluation process. He also led the 2012 academic-space planning process and now chairs the campus-wide steering committee charged with the creation of the new academic building to replace Lehman Hall and Wollman Library.
Spar said in her email that one of Brown’s greatest achievements was his decision to move the endowment fund from Barnard to an investment firm called Investure—a decision that produced robust endowment returns in the midst of a major economic recession.
Students who worked with Brown on the Financial Advisory Council, which he helped create in February 2012, said Brown made it a priority to seek out student feedback on financial decisions and foster an open dialogue with students about Barnard’s finances.
Julie Tauber, BC ’15 and the vice president of finance of Barnard’s Student Government Association, said that Brown’s work on the FAC allowed for the elimination of laboratory fees and the creation of an SGA endowment fund for campus improvement. She said Brown also hosted two SGA town hall events geared toward explaining to students Barnard’s finances, budget, and expenses.
SGA named Brown the Administrator of the Year in 2012.
“COO Brown has been an invaluable asset to Barnard’s Student Government and to the entire student body; he is not only available to meet and work with students, but is eager to do so, and he has clearly made student collaboration a priority during his time at Barnard. It has been an honor to work with him for the past three years to enhance student life, and he will be dearly missed,” Tauber said in an email.
“He is a very gracious man, and he was very excited to work with students in making the finances of the college more transparent and having these students have a say and involvement in how the college was spending its money and how it was raising its money,” said Candace Fox, BC ’14 and Tauber’s predecessor as SGA’s vice president of finance. Fox chaired the Financial Advisory Council with Brown last year.
She added that Brown has devoted significant effort toward getting students involved in the Capital Campaign, a major, long-term fundraising initiative Barnard will be launching this semester.
Spar said that she and Brown will ensure a smooth transition between him and his successor and will update the student body as plans evolve.
“My time at Barnard has been a wonderful experience, particularly my interactions with students,” Brown said in an email. “At Town Halls, Rep Council, and FAC Meetings, I experienced the best of Barnard—smart women who were committed to working together and making a difference.”
Corrections: An earlier version of this story misidentified the author online. An earlier version also implied that Brown was COO for eight years. He was at Barnard for eight years, but was only COO since 2009. Spectator regrets the errors.