Brown alum donating $25M for economic research center, economics faculty

PROVIDENCE – A private equity investor and Brown University alumnus is donating $25 million to the university to create an economics research center and to attract economics faculty to Brown.

The alumnus, Orlando Bravo, is making the gift through the Bravo Family Foundation, $15 million of which will support the establishment of the Orlando Bravo Center for Economic Research.

Brown said the center will expand the university’s data-driven research in economics and enhance training for future economics researchers.

The remaining $10 million will fund “the recruitment and retention of world-class economics faculty,” Brown said.

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Bravo, 49, who grew up in Puerto Rico, graduated from Brown in 1992 with degrees in economics and political science. He is the co-founder and managing partner of private equity firm Thoma Bravo LLC.

The firm, based in Chicago and San Francisco, specializes in buying technology companies and raised $12.6 billion for its flagship fund, Bravo said in January.

“Brown was the place that opened up incredible opportunities for me,” Bravo said in a Brown news release. “Studying economics led me to pursue work in financial services, which led me to banking, business school and law school. And that led me here, where I am now. None of that would have been possible without Brown and without economics.”

Anna Aizer, chair of Brown’s economics department, said the university has developed innovative data-mining methods that have shed light on inequities in health care, education and earning potential.

The establishment of the Orlando Bravo Center for Economic Research will allow the faculty to extend that research, she said.

“Many of these projects get at fundamental questions of opportunity and well-being,” Aizer said. “This research has the potential to change policy, both here and abroad, because the results reveal such clear policy implications.”