The College

Mission, Vision, Values, Belonging

Brown University is committed to the maintenance of a campus environment that supports all students in achieving their academic goals.

The Donovan Program for Recovery and Substance-Free Student Initiatives supports students who are in recovery or who are substance-free for any reason through anti-stigma advocacy, inclusive programming, and holistic support structures.

The Donovan Program for Recovery and Substance-Free Student Initiatives builds a thriving community of students, faculty, and staff that allows individuals to live their authentic selves and that reshapes alcohol and other drug cultures on Brown’s campus. In so doing, the Donovan Program serves as an example to other collegiate recovery programs across the country.

The Donovan Program for Recovery and Substance-Free Initiatives values the holistic well-being of every individual to which we engage. The program strives to upend historical discrimination and structures in the recovery and substance-free communities by celebrating the diverse pathways in which one examines their relationship to substances.

The Donovan ‘59 Program for Recovery and Substance-Free Student Initiatives celebrates the differences of people who participate along the intersectional axes of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, dis/ability, religion, and other identities.

Recovery is not a one-size fits all solution. People with substance use disorders get well through many different avenues. The Donovan Program for Recovery and Substance-Free Initiatives supports all pathways to recovery, acknowledging that some pathways are not supportive for people with all identities, backgrounds, and experiences. We build community by holding the differences in our stories as strengths and finding connections by exploring new ideas together.

The recovery resources at Brown may not encompass everything you need to become your best self. Our hope is to empower you to make the best decisions about your own recovery by referring you a range of resources on- and off-campus, based on your desired recovery outcomes. We are not a treatment center nor a holistic health center. However, we understand that, to succeed academically at Brown, your whole self must be engaged. 

While at Brown we put recovery and substance-free initiatives under a large umbrella, we recognize that there is a Venn diagram among groups. Some people who are in recovery are substance-free; some are not. Some people who are substance-free are in recovery; others are not. We celebrate all people who identify as being a person in recovery or a person who is substance-free for whatever reason while acknowledging the different needs of people who have substance use disorder and those who do not.

History of the Program

In 1977, Brown President Howard Swearer was at the forefront of a revolution in higher education when he supported Bruce E. Donovan ‘59, Professor of Classics, in founding the Dean for Chemical Dependency role in the Dean of the College Office (later endowed in 2004). Dean Donovan had the foresight to recognize that students who struggled with substance use on campus and those in recovery were a campus demographic that needed a specific set of supports.

To that end, the University now dedicates resources to support students in recovery from substance use disorders, students who would like to change their relationship to substances, and students who are negatively affected by their own or others' substance use. In 2017, programming and initiatives that addressed broader access to substance-free spaces on campus for students both in recovery and who identify as substance-free for any reason became a part of the Donovan Program.

Coming to Brown, I had very limited experiences with substances, and things quickly went south. In a moment where I felt like my life was completely destroyed and I had no way out, Donovan and EROB gave me a second chance. I'm proud to say that I spent my senior year completely sober, and was able to form some really beautiful and meaningful relationships with other sober people through the program. It also helped make the transition out of college feel safe and comfortable.

L.H. ‘23