After 33 years at Rutgers University, Don Brown will retire as the Associate Dean of the Office of Student Development in the Rutgers School of Engineering. For years, Rutgers students have known Dean Brown as a counselor and an advocate while at the School of Engineering. Only to have his graciousness extended after their leaving Rutgers University as a mentor and friend.
Whether you have been a student or have a friend who is a student at Rutgers School of Engineering, you know of Dean Brown. As the director of the Office of Student Development, Dean Brown leads an office that serves as the home for scholarships, student organizations, student services, special programs, and summer pre-college programs at the Rutgers School of Engineering. During the summer, the office runs several programs for high school and pre-college students, including The Engineering Experience for Minorities (TEEM) and The NJ Governor's School of Engineering and Technology program. Dean Brown and the OSD staff also run a summer residential program – Engineers of the Future (EOF). This six week academic program offers students from financially and socially disadvantaged backgrounds academic training and support in the first year engineering course curriculum. These are just a few of the programs that the OSD supports over the summer that serve as a pipeline for student development. In total, over 200 pre-college students are supported through the office each summer.
Those of us familiar with the great services offered by the OSD know that It is not at all unusual to go into the office on any random weekday to see a line of students waiting to consult Dean Brown for exam strategies, course planning advice, career planning or just affirmation toward academic goals and one’s existence at Rutgers University. “You can do this sport” is a mantra often shared with students in distress. “A’s and B’s sport!” would be the positive refrain to focus and encourage those leaving his office feeling somehow refreshed with a new perspective.
Dean Brown’s advocacy for students and student development has never ended in his office. He has held both support and active positions in several organizations. Whether championing increased funding for EOF students as a member of the New Jersey Educational Opportunity Fund Professional Association or lending his voice, expertise and understanding to organizations like the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) and the National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates (NAMEPA), Dean Brown is constantly representing his students. He has advised student leadership and assisted with organization building for the Society of Hispanic Engineers and the Engineering Governing Council at Rutgers University. As an administrator, Don Brown helped to establish the Minority Engineering Education Task (MEET – which later also became the Rutgers chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers), an academic, professional and cultural support organization for African American engineering students at Rutgers University. As the advisor for MEET, Dean Brown has facilitated academic, professional and organizational development of students for almost 30 years. To note during his time as advisor, Don saw the organization win the NSBE Chapter of the Year (1994) and has seen several Rutgers members win technical paper competitions, member of the year awards as well as various other accolades in various organizations. Needless to say - during his tenure, many African American students have completed Masters and Doctorate degrees in areas spanning engineering, law, business, medicine, teaching and the social sciences. Countless students have made significant impacts in the public and private sectors. Some have raised families (who now return children to the School of Engineering) while some have dedicated themselves to local, regional and national causes. Many (if not all) would agree that Dean Brown’s encouragement, support and influence was - and continues to be - central to his/her success. When former student Stacey Harley, was asked to comment on Dean Brown’s impact on her, she said “when you hear Don utter the words – ‘A’s and B’s Sport’ it made me know that only the sky was the limit in terms of my academic, professional and even personal achievement.”
Dean Brown has been the epitome of a champion for student development for over 33 years. The impact that he has had on thousands of students cannot be measured. As he transitions to the next phase of his life, we pause and acknowledge the love, action and commitment that Dean Brown has shared with all who have come in contact with him. Rutgers University and Rutgers students will feel the loss, but we will also be forever changed by what you have shared.
Dean Brown will retire by semesters end when he will join his wife in their newly constructed home in the US Virgin Islands. A retirement party is being organized on the evening of Saturday, November 14, 2009, by a group of Dean Brown’s friends, co-workers and past students. To purchase tickets, leave your testimony or learn more information about the event, please visit the website at: http://www.donbrownretires.com. There is little doubt that the next phase of Dean Brown’s life will be marked by cool breezes and cool drinks. Those of us who know him well are equally assured that he will have continued interest, engagement and development in the people that he comes into contact with – In some way.