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School of Engineering
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School of Engineering

SoE to Celebrate the Life of Former Associate Dean Donald Brown 


Older white man with silver hair with glasses. Speaking from a podium wearing a dark suit jacket, yellow shirt and orange lapel flower.

Donald Brown, retired School of Engineering associate dean for student development, died on May 2, 2023. The school has scheduled a celebration of the life of Brown for June 15, at 6 p.m. in Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering on the Busch campus. 

A US Army Vietnam War veteran who served two tours of duty in the Special Forces, Brown began his Rutgers career in 1976 as the director of the university’s Veterans Community Services Outreach Program, following his directorship of “New Jersey Veterans Education Corps,” a statewide Title I program created to ease the transition of returning Vietnam veterans into civilian life. 

In 1978, Brown became the first counselor of the School of Engineering’s Educational Opportunity Fund, or EOF program, eventually serving as its assistant director and then as associate dean and director. As a beloved and influential leader in these roles, Brown positively impacted thousands of students until he retired in 2009. 

“The School of Engineering community mourns the loss of Don Brown,” says Dean Alberto Cuitiño. “His commitment to our students’ success was at the core of his bringing our dynamic EOF program to life. His profound legacy lives on through program alumni, as well as present and future students.” 

An Honored Campus Leader 

Recruited by Brown in 1987, his longtime colleague, associate Dean Ilene Rosen worked with him for 22 years. She remembers him as a genuine advocate for all students. “He had the ability to make each person feel heard, special, and supported. Even in retirement, Don would call to tell us about a promising high school student he had met,” she says. “In a way, Don never stopped working for Rutgers and promoting an engineering education as a way to a better life. He was one in a million and his legacy, just in the number of alumni who have successful and impressive careers, speaks volumes. “  

As a dedicated champion of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Brown was honored with the Rutgers Human Dignity Award in 2003, which recognized his extraordinary commitment to EOF and to his development of an undergraduate research exchange program with the University of Brazil. He later was instrumental in developing research initiatives and exchange programs in Portugal, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, and St. Croix. 

Before he and his wife Laura retired to St. Croix, he was inducted into the Rutgers African American Alumni Alliance (RAAA) with an honorary lifetime membership. 

During his 33-year career at Rutgers, Brown was the primary advisor to many student organizations, including MEET or the Minority Engineering Educational Task of the Rutgers chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers; the Engineering Governing Council; the national engineering honor society, Tau Beta Pi; and engineering sororities Sigma Beta Epsilon and Phi Sigma Rho. He helped establish the Rutgers chapter of Engineers without Borders, which has worked on critical projects in El Salvador, Guatemala, Kenya, and Thailand. 

Brown was active in numerous professional organizations, including the Educational Opportunity Fund Professional Association of New Jersey; the National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates; the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering; and others.  

At his retirement, he was honored with the establishment of the Don Brown Book Fund, which helps students with financial need buy books and assists with their professional development. Those who wish to remember him may donate to the fund by visiting the Don Brown Book Fund giving page or