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The Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA) Endowment

The UTA program has been a hallmark of Brown CS for 50 years, and we're creating a $10 million endowment to celebrate it and make sure that it thrives for generations to come. We'd love to have your help. Just use the DONATE NOW form at right – $50K funds a UTAship and $100K funds a Head UTAship.

We have great progress that we need to support: we've raised over $7 million in one year! Recently, a generous alum has offered to donate the final $1 million that will get us to our goal if we can raise less than $2 million more. This match makes right now the best time yet to give.

We also want to thank everyone who has already donated, because your gifts are already making a difference. (To see a list of all named UTAships, click here.) Take a look at the testimonials below from students who have received UTAships or click here to watch a video of UTAs past and present sharing their experiences and talking about the importance of this endowment. samemmaqui.png

  • Samier Merchant, HTA for CS 157 and recipient of the Narayen Family Head UTAship, is proud of the innovations that he and his peers have been able to bring to TA hours, making them more collaborative and student-centered: "As UTAs, we got together and thought hard about how students learn. We used each other's experiences to really improve the process for them."
  • Emma Herold, one of the Meta-TAs, is the recipient of the Norm Meyrowitz '81 Meta UTAship in honor of Andy van Dam, given by a donor who had her father as a UTA. "I love seeing students teach other students at every level: UTA to student, but also UTA to UTA," she says. "The fact that this donor remembered my father says a lot about the impact that this program has."
  • Quinn Li O'Shea, UTA for CS 1300 and recipient of the Linnea Wile and Erik Wile, Class of '97 UTAship in CS, says that being a UTA changes your perspective:  "When you're a student, you see UTAs as these all-knowing entities, and it can make you feel like you don't belong. But when you become a UTA and join a team of 20-30 people from totally different backgrounds, you realize that you really do.  It's so rewarding."

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Donations can be made individually or be added to a pool named for your graduating class or for a group that you and your friends create. For $50,000, you or your group can name a UTAship, and for $100,000, you or your group can name a Head UTAship. You can also designate the position(s) you've endowed to support UTAships for Women in Computer Science or Underrepresented Minorities, reinforcing Brown's strong ongoing efforts to encourage diversity. Our goal is to get maximum participation and demonstrate the importance of the UTA program for so many students past, present, and future.

  • Contribute whatever you can individually and your contribution will be added to those of others from your graduating class.  If you and your classmates raise enough, a UTAship will be named for your graduating class (e.g. "The Class of '68 UTAship") and you will be listed.  We have set some goals for the number of UTAships we hope each class can sponsor, based on the number of graduates and the years since graduation, and we will have an online "scoreboard," or
  • Get together with your friends and colleagues to establish a Donor Group and pool your contributions. If your donor group gives $50k, it can name one UTAship.  If your donor group hits $100k, you can name 2 UTAships or 1 Head TAship, ad infinitum.  Some Donor Groups have already been created, such as the "UTAships in honor of Andy van Dam," "Women in Computer Science '85 UTAship," "Brown Alums of EQuill UTAship," and "UTAship in memory of Marie Moses."

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You can optionally add a "tribute" at the end, such as:

  • In memory of (e.g. "Jane Doe '71 UTAship in memory of Randy Pausch")
  • In honor of ("Jones Family Head UTAship in honor of Dr. James Jones '55")

The University allows the payment for these donations to be spread out over 5 years, which may be helpful in contributing more.  Also, if you hold appreciated stock, there are significant benefits to donating that.  For more information, please go to https://giving.brown.edu/giving/appreciated-securities/. As well, there may be matching programs at your workplace that could leverage your donation.

Thank you!

"I never want to stop being a Brown Computer Science TA." 
Mike Frederickson (Technical Director, Pixar and former UTA)

If we can answer any questions, please e-mail utaendowment@brown.edu. You can also make a check out to "Brown University" (please indicate that it's for the Brown CS Undergraduate TA Endowment) and send it to:

Anne Childs
Associate Director/Gift Accounting
Division of Advancement
Brown University
Box 1893
Providence, RI 02912

What The UTA Program Looks Like Today

Andy van Dam has described UTAs as a collaborative troupe spanning generations, making the future happen. Fifty years ago, Brown pioneered the idea of computer science UTAs; if you work in our field today, you've either met one or you were one. Serving as a UTA is an opportunity like no other, and comes at a critical time in a student's life, providing them with a new level of education, self-development, and often much-needed financial support.

  • 1 in 9 Brown undergrads is a CS or joint CS concentrator and 1 in 5 took a CS course this year
  • We employ more than 200 UTAs each semester, with some courses requiring over 30 UTAs
  • At last count, over 60% of CS concentrators have been a UTA at least once

The UTA program is dramatically more expensive than it once was, due to soaring enrollment and new federal employment regulations. At the same time, Brown faces increased budget pressure because of its admirable need-blind financial aid policy. By donating today, you help ensure that our one-of-a-kind UTA program will operate at its current level for years to come. 

UTAs contribute to all aspects of instruction and play a mentoring role that's vital to the quality of coursework, the educational experience of their peers, and their own personal growth. You yourself may have benefited--by being a UTA or by being mentored by one.  Today, you can help Brown give the same opportunity to someone who wouldn't otherwise have it.  We welcome contributions from former UTAs, CS graduates, families, friends of the department, and all who want to acknowledge and support this invaluable program.