A $10 million gift from Brown University Chancellor Samuel M. Mencoff and his wife, Ann S. Mencoff, has endowed the position of vice president for athletics and recreation at Brown.
The position, currently held by M. Grace Calhoun, will be known as the Chancellor Samuel M. Mencoff ’78 Vice President for Athletics and Recreation. Its endowment ensures a sustainable source of funding to support Brown Athletics leaders as they work to make the experience for the University’s student-athletes as rewarding as possible, both academically and in athletic competition.
“The endowment of this role is critical in our ability to recruit, retain and recognize leaders who are ideally positioned to propel Brown Athletics forward,” President Christina H. Paxson said. “For our varsity athletes and all of the community members who participate in recreational offerings, our athletics program continues to advance in everything from on-the-field success to quality of facilities. This gift from Sam and Ann Mencoff recognizes the momentum that is building and will enable us to do even more. We are deeply grateful.”
The gift, which creates the largest known endowed athletics leadership position in the Ivy League, extends a long track record of support from the Mencoffs. They previously contributed to the refurbishment of Meehan Auditorium, home of men’s and women’s ice hockey at Brown, and the construction of the new Center for Lacrosse and Soccer, two significant facilities priorities for Brown Athletics. They have also supported a wide range of academic priorities, from biomedical research and discovery to endowed professorships.
“The plan to elevate Brown Athletics is ambitious, and it is something that the whole community is coming together to support. I look forward to watching our athletes compete for championships in multiple sports and make their own unique contributions to academic life, service and the communal spirit on College Hill.”- said Samuel Mencoff.
Ensuring that Brown has an athletics and recreation division that fully reflects the goals and values of the University is a major component of the BrownTogether fundraising campaign extension, Paxson said.
Calhoun, a Class of 1992 alumna who was a varsity track and field athlete at Brown, joined the University as vice president for athletics and recreation in Spring 2021. The elevation of the position to the vice president level, reporting directly to Paxson — and the strong potential for its endowment — were key factors in recruiting Calhoun, who is nationally recognized for her leadership in collegiate athletics.
“Brown has a long-standing tradition of cultivating athletic achievement in tandem with unmatched preparation for life beyond graduation,” Chancellor Mencoff said. “Ann and I are thrilled that the endowed position has enabled us to attract a dynamic leader like Grace, who seeks to raise the distinction of Brown’s athletic programs and engage more community members in the pursuit of physical fitness and overall wellness.”
Since the 2015 launch of the BrownTogether campaign, alumni, parents and friends have made record-breaking contributions that have enhanced excellence in the University’s athletic programs and facilities. Among those gifts were funds to support the Meehan Auditorium and Center for Lacrosse and Soccer projects, the renovation of Marston Boathouse, updates to Brown’s baseball and softball fields, and the transition from grass to turf for Brown Stadium’s football field, in addition to projects that revamped multiple team locker rooms and the strength and conditioning space for all student-athletes.
Donors have also funded endowed coaching positions in water polo, women’s soccer, swimming and diving, wrestling, track and field, men’s lacrosse, men’s ice hockey, and men’s and women’s rugby, among others. In November 2021, when the campaign eclipsed its initial $3 billion goal, approximately $180 million had been raised for athletics overall.
Building on this success, Calhoun is leading the Division of Athletics and Recreation in shaping a new strategic plan that combines enhanced competitiveness, nationally and in the Ivy League, with best-in-class programs for student development. Fundraising support for talent recruitment and retention, programmatic growth and crucial infrastructure improvements are benefitting more than 1,000 varsity athletes, 1,500 club sport participants, and approximately 2,000 students involved in intramurals.
“Our vision is based on three ideas,” Calhoun said. “Transformational education must include meaningful co-curricular activities. Physical fitness is crucial to the well-being of every Brown community member. And a strong and inclusive Brown community is built on pride and shared experiences.”
Some of the division’s goals include: positioning Brown to capture national and Ivy League championships; leveraging Brown’s strengths in sports medicine, nutrition and mindfulness to promote peak performance; purposefully expanding career and professional mentoring for student-athletes; strengthening the club sports structure; inspiring increased participation in recreational activities across the University; building spirit and traditions among both current students and alumni; and establishing and strengthening partnerships with Brown’s Health and Wellness departments.
All of that was inspiring to the Mencoffs: “The plan to elevate Brown Athletics is ambitious, and it is something that the whole community is coming together to support,” Chancellor Mencoff said. “I look forward to watching our athletes compete for championships in multiple sports and make their own unique contributions to academic life, service and the communal spirit on College Hill.”