May 8, 2006
Bings make gift to Stanford in Washington Program
Longtime university supporters Helen and Peter Bing, '55, have made a gift that, with matching funds, will add $10 million to the endowment for the Stanford in Washington program.
The gift will help the Bing Stanford in Washington Program, renamed in the donors' honor, to strengthen its tutorial series with Washington insiders, expand offerings in the arts and humanities and add distance-learning programs, among other enhancements.
The matching funds are provided through the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation's $400 million commitment in 2001 to undergraduate education and the School of Humanities and Sciences, which administers the Washington program.
President John Hennessy praised the Bings for their continued support of Stanford programs. "Helen and Peter Bing seek out programs that truly shape the lives of Stanford students," Hennessy said. "Their uncommon generosity has already helped Stanford in Washington become one of the university's most distinctive and rewarding programs. This gift is excellent news for students."
The Bings have supported Stanford in Washington before. Each year since the program was established in 1988, students have complemented coursework with visits to the battlefield at Gettysburg, Thomas Jefferson's home at Monticello and similar historic sites, and also taken in performances of the National Symphony Orchestra, the Shakespeare Theatre Company and other events unique to Washington. The Bings, always chief among the field trips' sponsors, last year created an endowment specifically to sustain them.
"These are activities many students wouldn't think of or be able to afford," said Adrienne Jamieson, the Mary Lou and George Boone Centennial Director of Stanford in Washington.
Although the Bings reside in Southern California, Helen Bing is a founding member of the program's advisory council and works on every aspect of the Washington center, from cultural events, speakers and internships to the center's art collection and the red and white tulips in its garden.
"Helen and Peter continually demonstrate genuine interest in the students' experiences, the well-being of the staff and the way each program relates to the university's overall mission," Jamieson said.
Stanford in Washington offers undergraduates a combination of seminars with Stanford faculty in residence and tutorials with government figures and other Washington experts. Topics include law, economics, the environment, the arts and other fields influenced by government policy or represented in the capital by national organizations. Guest speakers include Supreme Court justices, Cabinet members, members of Congress and prominent journalists.
The program also places each student in an internshippossibilities include Congress, federal agencies and national museumsthat is often the highlight of the Washington experience.
Support from alumni and others has always been integral to Stanford in Washington. The program's four-story Bass Center, a combination residence and classroom facility on Connecticut Avenue, is named for founding patrons Anne and Robert Bass, MBA '74. This fall, the program will expand into a second building next door, purchased and remodeled with major support from Vicki, '61, and Roger Sant.
The new space and the Bing endowment will foster exciting changes, Jamieson said. She expects the number of students in residence to increase slightly, with the possibility of adding graduate students for the first time. The policy-driven tutorial program will grow, as will other coursework. The new building will include an art gallery, and students will be able to select from more courses and desirable internships in the arts and humanities. A new distance-learning facility, constructed with help from Mary Lou, '52, and George Boone, will allow students in Washington to keep up with courses on the main campus and students on the West Coast to participate in classes held in Washington.
The Bing gift also helps the Washington program extend overseas. This year, students from Washington will join those from the university's overseas study centers for a Stanford conference in Beijing. Randy Schriver, a former State Department official who is teaching a tutorial on China at Stanford in Washington, is helping to organize the conference, which will include a reception with the U.S. ambassador to China.
The Bings are also the namesakes of Stanford's Bing Overseas Studies Program, which was renamed last year in recognition of their gift, also matched by the Hewlett Foundation, which added $25 million to the program's endowment.
"There is a real method to their support," Jamieson said. "They're extremely thoughtful, and that's reflected in students' experiences at Stanford in Washington and across the university."