While it was the hospitals Mayor Angel Taveras met with late last week, the focus again this week will likely be a new deal with Brown University.
After all, the hospital industry in Rhode Island is struggling, reports Megan Hall of Rhode Island Public Radio. The hospitals here lost a combined $4 million last year, the Hospital Association of Rhode Island said. Six of the 11 lost money, but the lobby group wasn’t saying which ones.
Brown University, on the other hand, is doing quite well.
It’s endowment is worth $2.5 billion this year, an increase of 19 percent from the year before. That’s the money the Ivy League School has in the bank. While the endowment invested some $100 million in offsetting the university’s costs last year, a mere 14 percent of the school’s overall budget, its nest egg grew more by more than $400 million.
Taveras expected to get about $4 million a year from Brown – or about 1 percent of what the school earned on its investment last year. That’s not a big slice of the profits.
It’s true, Brown may have lost much more than that in the 2009 crash, but over the last ten years it’s endowment has gone up by a comfortable 7.7 percent. It’s also true that Brown has the smallest endowment in the Ivy League, but that’s a little bit like being the biggest city in Wyoming: Cheyenne is no more urban than Brown is poor. This Wikipedia list ranks it as the 28th richest college or university in the country.
Brown may be the single best influence on the city of Providence – its employs thousands of people, the commercial districts on Wickenden and Thayer streets owe their very existence to the students and staff there and its cultural offerings are a boon to the entire community.
But Providence is a pretty good thing for Brown, too. And it’s very safe to assume that the best and brightest will think twice about spending $50,000 a year to attend the prestigious university if its located in a financially destitute city.
Brown should pay up not only because it can afford to do so, but also because it’s in its best interest to do so.