April 6, 2007
CCSRE slated for major expansion with $2.5 million gift from Raikes Family Foundation and new faculty positions
By Lisa Trei
The Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) is poised for major growth thanks to a $2.5 million gift from the Raikes Family Foundation of Seattle. In addition, Provost John Etchemendy will provide funds to establish 10 new faculty billets and six graduate fellowships for the center. The School of Humanities and Sciences, drawing on a gift from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, will match the support from Tricia and Jeff Raikes to create a $4 million endowment for the 10-year-old center. The Raikes Foundation has allocated $500,000 of its gift to hire an administrative director for five years who will expand service learning for CCSRE students and thereby enhance their ability to have a greater positive impact in the community and beyond.
"CCSRE is a jewel in Stanford's crown," Etchemendy said. "We believe it is the strongest center of its kind in the country. It draws on the intellectual interests and expertise of more than 100 Stanford faculty, and through them provides our students with a nuanced understanding of how race and ethnicity shape the modern world. We are delighted that the center's mission and reputation have attracted the attention of generous donors who recognize the importance of such understanding to the future of our nation."
Lawrence Bobo, director of CCSRE and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor, said the gift will inspire the center to achieve more as an institution. "We want to reach more students and to have a more profound effect on how they understand themselves and what they can and should get out of an education here at Stanford, and to become people who make a larger difference in the world outside," he said.
According to Bobo, the center's interdisciplinary and multiethnic model has been emulated by other institutions nationwide. In addition to faculty in the School of Humanities and Sciences, the center has attracted affiliated scholars from the graduate schools of law, business, education and medicine. "This unit has maintained a commitment to excellence and intellectual diversity that I think is absolutely admirable," said Bobo, a sociologist. "We've been able to sustain a dialogue between psychologists, sociologists, historians, English professors and philosophers who tend to view the world through very different epistemological lenses. That's not an easy thing to do. It is important that we step forward to showcase the successes we've had, and to dedicate ourselves to being even stronger in the future."
President John Hennessy noted that the center would play an increasingly important role as Stanford focuses on multidisciplinary teaching and research. The university recently announced a campaign, The Stanford Challenge, to educate leaders and fund research that will concentrate multidisciplinary efforts on seeking solutions to a wide range of critical issues facing the world's population.
"Understanding issues of race and ethnicity in America is central to our future as a country," Hennessy said. "Addressing these issues and finding solutions that will improve quality of life for all Americans will require a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach. CCSRE has the range and scholarly talent to pursue these vital questions."
Bobo praised the Raikeses, co-presidents of the foundation, as "committed, ambitious and positive" people. "They're committed to making Stanford an even greater university," he said. "They are committed to enhancing CCSRE's capacity to transform how students who come to this university understand racial and ethnic differences, and to take that experience and go out and change the world."
Jeff Raikes, a Nebraska native, earned a Stanford bachelor's degree in engineering-economic systems in 1980. Tricia, who is from Seattle, graduated from Washington State University. The couple met early in their careers at Microsoft Corp., where Jeff is president of the firm's business division. Their eldest child is a Stanford freshman.
The Raikeses are involved in community activities focusing on public service, education and children. For example, they serve as co-chairs for the United Way of King County fundraising campaign. In addition to their gift supporting CCSRE, they previously established the Jeff and Tricia Raikes Undergraduate Scholarship Fund to ensure that students admitted to Stanford from rural and inner-city schools have an opportunity to attend the university.
"As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, we need to prepare our young people to be more active citizens and effective leaders," Tricia Raikes said. "CCSRE's groundbreaking work will be influential in setting a new agenda calling for change on Stanford's campus and beyond."
Bobo said the couple, who have closely observed the center's activities, have a deep appreciation of the ways that racial and ethnic differences have often created troubled distinctions in societycreating a source of strife, conflict and acute disadvantage for some. "They very much want to see the major institutions of our societyhigher education, government, the nonprofit sector, the business sectorfunction in ways that deal better with issues of race and ethnicity," he said. "That can start by having a big effect on the minds of the people who are going to be the leaders of the next generation."
Established in 1996 in the wake of protests and student demands for expanded ethnic studies, CCSRE took a comparative view from the start, said economics Professor John Shoven, who was dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences when the plan was first presented in 1995 to the Faculty Senate. "I was sympathetic we should have [such] studies, but I always thought it would be better if the studies were comparative," he said. "It would be more rigorous if we moved in that direction."
To create an interdisciplinary, comparative framework for the center, Shoven worked closely with history Professor Al Camarillo, who became its first director; English Professor Ramon Saldívar; and history Professor Emeritus George Fredrickson. In 1995, Shoven wrote a white paper stating that such a center should be "visionary, innovative and trend-setting, capable ideally of leading the development of these fields into the next century."
In 2007, the center offers a variety of opportunities for teaching and research on topics of race and ethnicity from both domestic and international comparative perspectives. It brings together more than 100 affiliated faculty from 15 departments and five schools across campus. Through its Interdepartmental Program in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, undergraduates can major or minor in comparative studies, or focus on African and African American, Asian American, Chicano, Jewish and Native American studies. CCSRE's work is informed by its research division, the Research Institute of Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (RICSRE), which sponsors research projects, conferences, faculty and graduate student seminar series and fellowship programs.
In addition to endowing the center, Bobo said, the Raikes Foundation's gift will strengthen the university's connection to the world beyond Stanford. A service-learning track already exists for undergraduates, but the addition of a full-time liaison director will help strengthen the connection between students and CCSRE, the Haas Center for Public Service and other community organizations.
"The funding in support of appointing a director of service learning provides the foundation for the undergraduate program and the center in general to launch an ambitious service-learning curriculum and community-based research initiative," Camarillo said. "We expect this initiative to reach far and wide in linking our students and faculty to communities and organizations, in the U.S. and beyond, that are involved in the difficult endeavors of making diverse societies function more effectively."
New faculty billets and graduate fellowships
To strengthen CCSRE's mission, 10 billets will be added for new faculty proposed by the center who may join any of Stanford's schools, Etchemendy announced at the April 5 Faculty Senate meeting. The provost will fully fund the positions for five years. After that, the respective schools will be required to cover half of their salaries. Etchemendy also is funding six three-year graduate fellowships in perpetuity. Each year, two fellowships will be allocated according to a process similar to the Stanford Graduate Fellowships in the sciences: Departments or schools will nominate candidates, and a committee will choose from among this group the most distinguished and promising students.
Etchemendy said the comparative emphasis of the center is especially valuable in that it brings a diverse group of undergraduates, graduates and faculty together in collaborative projects.
"The center's program encourages our students to move past their own cultural assumptions and boundaries and prepares them for an increasingly complex world," Etchemendy said. "Upon graduation, many of our students will devote themselves to public service that will transcend national boundaries; others will work in business settings that are increasingly global in nature. The center is a working model for how to collaborate with a diverse set of colleagues and provide leadership in a world that is less and less confined by national, ethnic and cultural boundaries."
Bobo said he wants to make hiring new faculty as flexible as possible to ensure that it becomes "a dynamic opportunity to spread the importance of the intellectual mission around these questions of race and ethnicity. Hopefully, this will also function as a mechanism to redouble efforts at enhancing faculty diversity."
Although the pool of top-notch senior faculty is not large, Bobo said, the pipeline is growing. "There are some exciting people out there," he said. "I think we're also going to see a cadre of really first-rate younger scholars coming along who have the exact credentials we're looking for."
Psychology Professor Claude Steele, CCSRE's second director, said he is confident that the center's healthy, innovative and collaborative atmosphere will draw in leading academics at all levels. "The attractiveness of the place makes it possible for this to happen," he said. "This is how a real steeple of excellence is built."