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Weekend for students admitted to Stanford's Class of 2015 begins Thursday

The three-day event features walking tours and open houses, a Q&A with President John Hennessy, academic expos, a midnight breakfast for the arts and humanities and a speech by Tim Westergren, '88, founder of Pandora Internet Radio.

BY KATHLEEN J. SULLIVAN

During Admit Weekend 2011, which begins Thursday and ends late Saturday, Stanford will give prospective freshmen – high school students admitted to the Class of 2015 – a taste of what it would be like to live and study on The Farm.

"You will see, learn and experience what it is like to be a Stanford student and begin to understand our unique philosophy of academic freedom, diversity and entrepreneurial spirit," the program for the annual event says. "You will see it everywhere, in the classrooms, the dining halls, the labs and in White Plaza."

The university has offered admission to 2,427 students, who have until May 1 to accept Stanford's offer.

Bob Patterson, Stanford's director of admission, said the university expects about 1,300 high school students to attend the event. Add in their families – parents and siblings – and the total number jumps to about 3,000 visitors for the event-filled weekend. He said students who received admission letters have been visiting Stanford ever since the university sent out those letters on March 29.

"Students visit when they are able to visit, and we do our best to accommodate them with tours, class visits, appointments with faculty and overnight stays with currently enrolled students," Patterson said.

The three-day event features walking tours and open houses, a Q&A with President John Hennessy, academic expos, a midnight breakfast for the arts and humanities, and a closing speech by Tim Westergren, '88, a musician, composer, record producer and founder of Pandora Internet Radio. Westergren received a bachelor's degree at Stanford, where he studied computer acoustics and recording technology.

The event includes several events for parents: a mixer at Russo Café; student-led tours of residence halls; and a "coffee table" talk with Stanford administrators and the parents of current students.

But the primary focus, as always, is on the future members of the Class of 2015.

The official Stanford welcome – delivered by President John Hennessy, Provost John Etchemendy and Richard Shaw, dean of admission and financial aid – begins Thursday at 1:15 p.m. At 2:25 p.m., Harry J. Elam Jr., vice provost for undergraduate education, will outline Stanford's philosophy of undergraduate education. Elam will be joined on stage by a group of undergraduates eager to share their path of intellectual exploration at Stanford, including their experiences taking small seminars, conducting funded research projects and studying overseas.

Later that afternoon, the prospective freshmen – packing sleeping bags and pillows – will head to the dorms, accompanied by current Stanford students known as "House Hosts," or, as they are affectionately known in Stanford Speak, HoHos.

That evening will feature a panel discussion, titled "Hip-Hop Race & Citizenships in Japan, France and the United States." Participants include rapper and political activist Chuck D (of Public Enemy) and Gaye Johnson, a professor of Black studies at the University of California-Santa Barbara.

Prospective freshmen who wonder what it would be like to take classes at Stanford will have a wide array of fields to choose from, including biology, history, computer science and philosophy. Here is a sampling of the weekend's 22 lectures:

  • "The Stanford Graphic Novel Project. Some People Read Graphic Novels. We Make Them," Adam Johnson, English
  • "Climate Change in the Century Ahead: What Are We Learning from Antarctic Science Expeditions?" Robert B. Dunbar, Earth systems
  • "How Progressive Are the Identity Politics in Glee?" Shana Goldin-Perschbacher, feminist studies
  • "Can a Random Rubik's Cube Be Solved?" Brian Conrad, mathematics
  • "Multitasking: The Effects on Your Thinking, Emotions and Social Life," Clifford Nass, communication
  • "From Beanie Babies to Invasive Frogs: One Veterinarian's Life on 'The Farm,'" Donna M. Bouley, comparative medicine

The weekend will feature many outdoor events: a picnic lunch, hikes to the Dish and the Stanford vs. Washington softball game.

At 8 p.m. on Saturday, the Music Department will present a showcase at Memorial Church. The lineup includes soloists, the Stanford Chamber Chorale, Stanford Taiko and ensembles from the Stanford Symphony Orchestra.