Brown University began its life as the College of Rhode Island. In 1804, Nicholas Brown gave the college $5000 in order to endow two professorships, and in gratitude the Corporation renamed the college in his honor. This is, of course, all well-known.
Nevertheless, it was a thrill to stumble upon notice of this event this last week while flipping through the original, handwritten minutes of the Corporation from this time. The relevant page begins with Nicholas Brown’s gracious pledge and is followed by the Corporation’s resolution:
It is therefore voted, that the thanks of this corporation be presented to Mr. Nicholas Brown, for the aforesaid donation; and it is further voted that this college be called and known in all future time by the name of Brown University, in Providence in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
Brown’s commencement is this weekend. This post is in honor of the Corporation, whose business in the eighteenth to nineteenth centuries included setting the salaries of each individual faculty member.