Stanford Report Online



Stanford Report, March 7, 2001
GALE project terminated; leaders explore other building options

BY RUTHANN RICHTER

Stanford School of Medicine officials have decided to forgo current plans for the so-called GALE project and start a new planning process whose top priority will be to develop a first-rate education building and library/information facilities.

The planning team also will give a "thoughtful and critical look" to the construction of new laboratory space, which had been a key component of the original GALE plan, said Philip Pizzo, MD, the incoming dean of the School of Medicine.

Pizzo's recommendation has been approved by the school's Faculty Senate and its Executive Committee, which includes all department chairs and top administrators. School officials are also working with a key medical-school accreditation agency on the new plan.

The original plans for GALE (short for Grant, Alway, Lane and Edwards -- the buildings that make up the medical school complex) were approved by university trustees in October 1999 and included construction of a new education building on the site of the 41-year-old Edwards Building. The goal was to give the school a stronger physical identity as well as much-needed, modernized space for classrooms, lecture halls, small group learning areas, simulation labs, a student center and space for student services.

The 240,000-square-foot project also called for an overhaul of the Lane Building, including Lane Library, and renovation of portions of the Grant and Alway buildings to provide upgraded space for research laboratories. The project was to be built over five years, beginning this spring.

But Pizzo said that after consulting with many people -- including faculty chairs, students and medical school administrators -- it became clear that plans for the $185-million project were trying to satisfy all interests without truly satisfying anyone. While the project met some basic immediate needs and fit within the school's space and cost constraints, it had attracted a notable lack of enthusiasm and would have faced fund-raising challenges, he told Faculty Senate members during a Feb. 22 meeting.

"We want to be able to march forward with something that we can all stand behind," he said.

Pizzo said he will move quickly to form a new planning team, which he will direct. Senate members expressed full support for his action and praised Pizzo for taking a lead role in the project.

Eugene Bauer, MD, dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for the Medical Center, joined Pizzo in addressing the project at the senate meeting and said he was "wholly supportive" of the move to discontinue the current plan.

"(The project) attempted to meet a multiplicity of needs," Bauer told senate members. "It became the project people loved to hate because it did not have enough for everyone."

Pizzo said the school will consider some "interim fixes" of laboratory facilities so that programs can continue to grow and faculty recruitment can move forward. He said this could involve upgrading the 52,000 sq. ft. of laboratory space vacated by the move of some programs to the new Center for Clinical Sciences Research building. Among the departments most immediately affected by the project change are surgery, neurology, neurosurgery, medicine and pathology, he said.

"We hope everyone will make an accommodation for the greater good of the school in the long run," he said.

Pizzo also reviewed the status of the GALE project with the school's Executive Committee on Feb. 23. The committee unanimously voted to recommend the termination of the GALE project while supporting a priority for renewing education and library facilities. In addition, Pizzo held a "town hall" meeting with medical and graduate students, who also supported the new direction.

On March 1, Pizzo and Michael Hindery, senior associate dean for finance and administration, met with a representative of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education in Washington, D.C., to request an extension of time for the planning and construction of new education and library/information facilities. In past reports, the LCME -- the accrediting agency for medical schools -- has cited inadequacies in the current education and library buildings that must be addressed for Stanford to maintain its accreditation.

Pizzo said the meeting with the LCME representative was helpful and productive. Although final approval will require a review by the full LCME, Pizzo said he stressed the importance of new education facilities in achieving the vision for the future of medical and graduate student education. He added that Stanford will proceed expeditiously with plans to focus on new education and library/information facilities.

The new plan is welcome news to several groups who had expressed displeasure with the evolution of the GALE project. In November, eight student leaders wrote to Bauer, saying they believed the latest designs for the project would not be adequate to serve the school for another 40 years. The students said they were concerned about classroom seating and learning space -- particularly in the case-based learning laboratory.

"...(We are) certain you agree that if it is worth doing this project, it is worth doing it right," the student representatives wrote.

Faculty Senate members, who took up the issue at their Dec. 13, 2000, meeting, echoed the students' concerns. The senate passed a resolution questioning the adequacy of the plans for the new education building and recommending that the project not go forward in its current design.