Christina Paxson is the nineteenth president of Brown University and Professor of Economics and Public Policy. She assumed the role of president on July 1, 2012.
As president, she has worked with students, faculty and staff to develop Building on Distinction, a strategic plan for Brown that will inform the University’s next decade of growth and progress. The plan seeks to build on the progress of the last decade and provides a vision and set of broad goals to achieve higher levels of distinction as a university that unites innovative education and outstanding research to benefit the community, the nation and the world. It calls for targeted investments to attract and support the most talented and diverse faculty, students, and staff; capitalize on existing strengths; and provide the environment to foster rigorous inquiry and discovery across the disciplines. The plan highlights the need to keep a Brown education affordable for talented students from all economic backgrounds and to sustain a community with the diversity of thought and experience required for excellence.
Prior to her appointment as President in July 2012, she was dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Hughes-Rogers Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University.
A 1982 honors graduate of Swarthmore College, Phi Beta Kappa, Paxson earned her graduate degrees in economics at Columbia University (M.A., 1985; Ph.D., 1987). She began her academic career at Princeton University in 1986, becoming assistant professor of economics and public affairs the next year. She became a full professor in 1997 and was named the Hughes-Rogers Professor of Economics and Public Affairs in 2007. While at Princeton, Paxson also served as associate chair (2005-2008) and chair (2008-2009) of the Department of Economics and was the founding director of a National Institute on Aging Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging. In 2000, she founded the Center for Health and Wellbeing, an interdisciplinary research center in the Woodrow Wilson School. The center established multidisciplinary graduate and undergraduate certificate programs in health and health policy. She served as the center’s director until 2009.
Initially working on international economic problems of labor supply, mobility, savings, inequality, and aging, Paxson focused increasingly on the relationship of economic factors to health and welfare over the life course, particularly on the health and welfare of children. She has been the principal investigator on a number of research projects supported by the National Institutes of Health, including a study of adversity and resilience after Hurricane Katrina. She has authored or co-authored numerous journal articles, was elected vice president of the American Economic Association in 2012, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In January 2016, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston named Paxson to its board of directors.
Her talk is titled, “Why Adversity in Childhood Matters.”