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Stanford names new director of undergraduate advising and research

Robert Urstein, who was also named dean of freshmen, will be responsible for overseeing undergraduate advising programs, including pre-major advising, athletic advising and pre-professional advising, and for administering $5 million in annual undergraduate research grants given to departments, faculty and students.

L.A. Cicero Robert Urstein portrait

Robert Urstein

Robert "Rob" Urstein, who has served as assistant dean for the doctoral program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business since 2004, has been named associate vice provost, director of undergraduate advising and research, and dean of freshmen at Stanford.

While Urstein's official start date is Oct. 1, he will be heavily involved in New Student Orientation, which will take place Sept. 18-23. The program introduces incoming freshmen and transfer students to the wide array of academic, intellectual, leadership, cultural and social experiences available at Stanford.

During orientation, Urstein will share the stage at "Discover Stanford" with Harry J. Elam Jr., vice provost for undergraduate education, and Provost John Etchemendy. Urstein also will speak during the event "Parent-to-Parent Advice for Frosh Parents" and at the dinner for parents hosted by the provost.

Elam said Urstein emerged as the top candidate during a rigorous national search.

"I look forward to working with him on a number of critical issues, including advising new students, who will have increased choice and flexibility as we implement curricular changes from SUES," Elam said, referring to the acronym for the Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford.

"In the interview process, Rob impressed all of us with his commitment to and knowledge of undergraduate education and advising at Stanford," Elam said, adding that Urstein has served as a pre-major adviser in Undergraduate Advising and Research (UAR) for the last seven years.

"UAR is already a high performing organization, and I think Rob is the right leader at the right time to further engage Stanford's students throughout their time on the Farm," Elam said.

Urstein succeeds Julie Lythcott-Haims, who left Stanford in June to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry.

Urstein will be responsible for undergraduate advising programs, including pre-major advising, athletic advising and pre-professional advising. He also will be responsible for administering the $5 million in undergraduate research grants given to departments, faculty and students each year, along with a host of programs aimed at freshmen and sophomores. To accomplish all of this, he will lead a staff of 36 people, as well as faculty and students who contribute substantially to UAR programs.

Urstein said he looks forward to joining the team that helps undergraduates become part of Stanford's community of scholars.

"Stanford undergraduates have the unique opportunity to receive a liberal education in the context of a world-class research university," Urstein said. "I am thrilled to join a team of dedicated professionals in UAR, and privileged to work with a broad group of faculty and staff colleagues in helping our students navigate and engage the university's tremendous resources."

As assistant dean for the PhD program at the Graduate School of Business (GSB) for the past eight years, Urstein has run a large program spanning all academic areas, working closely with faculty, staff and students on matters involving curriculum, admissions, student financial support and student services.

He also has been responsible for the Case Writing Office and the Behavioral Lab, two groups that support the GSB's teaching and research mission. He also teaches first- year MBA students in one of the GSB's core courses, Critical Analytical Thinking.

GSB Dean Garth Saloner congratulated Urstein on his new position.

"Rob has done a terrific job as assistant dean for the GSB's PhD program over the last eight years," Saloner said. "He leaves the program in excellent shape. While we never like to lose such a talented individual, we are also proud and excited to see him take on a fantastic new opportunity at Stanford."

Prior to arriving at Stanford, Urstein served as chair and instructor in the English Department at San Francisco University High School from 1994 to 2004. During a 2000-01 sabbatical, he was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in American studies at the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Education in Oslo, Norway.

Currently, Urstein serves as board chair of the Bay Area Youth Sports Foundation, which he co-founded in 2007. The foundation, which is headquartered in San Francisco, awards grants to nonprofit youth sports and education programs for underserved children living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Urstein earned master's and doctoral degrees in American studies at the University of Iowa. He was an instructor in the American Studies Program and the English Department at the University of Iowa from 1989 to 1993. He earned a bachelor's degree in history and literature at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif., in 1988.