The Brown Alumni Association established the William Rogers Award in 1984 to recognize an outstanding alumna or alumnus whose service to society in general is representative of the words of the Brown Charter: living a life “of usefulness and reputation.” It recognizes important contributions to humankind made by Brown alumni anywhere in the world.

Roger Williams was the first Rhode Islander. In a neat bit of symmetry, William Rogers was the first Brunonian, enrolling in 1765.

Rogers was the only student attending the new college for the first nine months, and when he graduated with six other men in 1769, he gave the first Commencement oration. In 1790 Rogers became president of oratory and belles-lettres at the University of Pennsylvania, a position he held until 1811. He served as vice president of the Society for Gradual Abolition of Slavery, and in 1797 he was vice president of the Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons. He died on April 7, 1824.




2019 Recipient

Spencer R. Crew '71, P'00, P'04

By creating innovative and inclusive exhibitions and public programs, Spencer Crew has dedicated his long career to making history accessible to the general public. His groundbreaking work “Field to Factory: Afro-American Migration 1915–1940,” which was on exhibit at the Smithsonian for nearly 20 years, generated a national discussion about migration, race, and the curation of historical exhibitions. He also co-curated “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden” which is one of the Smithsonian’s most popular exhibitions.

Crew is an active member of the academic and cultural communities, serving on many boards that work to spark the public’s interest in history. He is a past chair of the National Council for History Education and serves on the Board of the National Trust for Historic Preservation as well as the Nominating Board of the Organization of American Historians. Crew has been selected to The Organization of American Historians' Distinguished Lectureship Program, a speakers bureau dedicated to American history and speaking to diverse audiences across the country. He currently serves as the interim director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

A past president of the Brown Alumni Association and two-term trustee, Crew has been a longtime volunteer for the University and currently serves on the Slavery & Justice Advisory Board.

2018 Recipient

Maggie Hassan ’80, P’15
United States Senator

The second woman in American history to be elected both Governor and United States Senator, Maggie Hassan was first drawn to public service as an advocate fighting to ensure that children like her son Ben, who experiences severe disabilities, would be fully included in their communities and have the same opportunities as other children.

Today, as a member of several Senate committees, Senator Hassan continues her quest to help students and families. She works across party lines to solve problems in order to expand middle-class opportunity, support small businesses, and keep America safe, secure, and free. By working to make college more affordable, by expanding access to job training, by helping innovative businesses grow, and by combatting the prevalent heroin, fentanyl, and opioid crisis, she hopes to build a more inclusive economic future in which all people who work hard can get ahead and stay ahead.

Hassan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Brown and a Juris Doctor from Northeastern University.


2017 Recipient

Lauren J. Asher ’87
Nonprofit leader

A nationally recognized nonprofit leader, policy expert, and advocate for college access, affordability, and success, Lauren Asher’s career has focused on lowering barriers to equity and opportunity. She is a former president of The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), a high-impact research and policy nonprofit working to improve student aid and reduce the burden of student debt. While at TICAS, Asher developed the policy model and spearheaded the movement for what became the first widely available income-based student loan repayment plan (IBR) for federal student loans. In 2007, President George W. Bush signed IBR into law as part of the College Cost Reduction & Access Act.

Asher holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in semiotics from Brown and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.


2016 Recipient

Jaykumar A. Menon ’90
Human rights lawyer

An award-winning international human rights lawyer, social entrepreneur, and teacher, Jaykumar Menon helps save the lives of millions of the world’s poor by pioneering and leveraging new technologies.

Collectively, his concepts in open innovation have attracted over $120 million in funding. His latest initiative, The Open Source Pharma project, aims to provide affordable medicine for all in a global open-source pharmaceutical ecosystem.

Previously, he was head of international development at the X Prize Foundation, a group dedicated to bringing about “radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity” through incentivized competition. Earlier in his career as an attorney, he won victories in several highprofile cases, including a $4 billion judgment on behalf of victims of the Bosnian genocide.

Menon is currently professor of practice at the McGill University Institute for the Study of International Development. He constructed an independent concentration at Brown and earned both an M.A. and J.D. from Columbia University.


All Previous Award Recipients

  • Aaron T. Beck ’42, P ’74, GP ’00 ’02, founder of cognitive therapy
  • Seth Berkley ’78, ’81 MD, founder of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative
  • Thomas G. Catena ’86, medical doctor
  • Edwidge Danticat ’93 MFA, award-winning author
  • George M. C. Fisher ’64 ScM, ’66 PhD, P ’88 ’92, president, chairman of the board, and chief executive officer, Eastman Kodak Company
  • Kathryn Scott Fuller ’68, P ’06, president, World Wildlife Fund and the Conservation Foundation
  • James B. Garvin ’78, ’81 ScM, ’84 PhD, chief scientist for NASA’s Mars and Lunar Exploration Programs
  • David R. Gockley ’65, general director, Houston Grand Opera
  • Hermes C. Grillo ’44, P ’87, chief of general thoracic surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Hill Harper ’88, film, television, and stage actor; author; philanthropist
  • Richard C. Holbrooke ’62, permanent U.S. representative to the United Nations
  • Lucile M. Jones ’76, seismologist
  • Jim Yong Kim ’82, chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School
  • Irving R. Levine ’44, NBC News chief economics correspondent
  • Byron K. Lichtenberg ’69, astronaut, pilot, and engineer
  • Lois Hammersberg Lowry ’58, award winning children’s author and illustrator
  • Kurt M. Luedtke ’61, Pulitzer Prize and Oscar winner
  • Linda Mason ’64, P ’01, vice president, public affairs, CBS News
  • Zachary P. Morfogen ’50, P ’87, founding chairman emeritus, National Hospice Foundation and the National Hospice Organization
  • Samuel M. Nabrit ’28 ScM, ’32 PhD, educator and developmental biologist
  • Frank Newman ’47, former president, Education Commission of the States
  • Nawal M. Nour ’88, founder and director of the African Women’s Health Practice of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston
  • Joseph V. Paterno ’50, professor and head football coach, Pennsylvania State University
  • Thomas E. Pérez ’83, assistant attorney general for civil rights in the U.S. Department of Justice
  • Barbara J. Reisman ’71, ’06 MD, P ’02 ’05, executive director, Child Care Action Campaign
  • William R. Rhodes ’57, P ’98, senior vice chairman, Citibank
  • Kenneth T. Roth ’77, P’12, Executive director of Human Rights Watch, the largest human rights organization in the U.S.
  • Malika Saada Saar ’92, founder and executive director of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights
  • William H. Twaddell ’63, U.S. ambassador to Nigeria
  • Diana E. Wells ’88, president of Ashoka
  • Augustus A. White III ’57, distinguished surgeon
  • Gerard B. White ’86, co-founder, Landmine Survivors Network

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