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Overwhelmingly, alumni would choose Stanford again
STANFORD -- Given the chance to start over, 93 percent of Stanford University alumni again would attend Stanford, according to a 1992 survey.
The survey was conducted by the Stanford Alumni Association, under the guidance of outside experts. It included a random survey in February of 7,500 graduates (about 5 percent of all Stanford alumni), and follow-up phone, in-person and magazine polling. The margin of error in applying the responses to all alumni was plus-or-minus 2 percent.
A total of 3,902 alumni responded to the survey. Of those, 97 percent said their Stanford education had had a positive impact on their life, and 93 percent agreed with the statement: "If I had my life over again I'd still go to Stanford."
Nearly three-quarters of the respondents said they were willing to help Stanford financially.
Sixty percent of the respondents agreed that "Stanford's quality of education has improved over the past 10 years," 69 percent agreed that "the changes Stanford is making in its curriculum are needed to meet the challenges of a changing world," and 90 percent agreed that "diversity in the student body enhances the Stanford educational experience."
Written comments from some alumni criticized changes in the university's old Western Culture curriculum, its decisions to grant benefits to the domestic partners of students, affirmative action in the admissions process, the high cost of tuition, recent budget cuts and that perennial target, the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band.
The alumni remained firm on admissions standards: 96 percent said Stanford should not lower its standards to recruit students with more athletic talent; and 74 percent disagreed with the statement "I believe that children of alumni should get additional admission preference, even if it requires changes in admission standards."
On the subject of research and teaching, 41 percent of respondents said that Stanford places too much emphasis on research, and 89 percent said the university should place more emphasis on teaching skills. Seventy-one percent said they felt budget cuts would hurt academic programs.
The survey came after a year of headlines about Stanford's dispute with the federal government over reimbursement for research. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they were "embarrassed by the negative stories in the media about Stanford," and 51 percent agreed with the statement "Stanford has become too arrogant."
Eighty-six percent said the university trustees should be more accessible to alumni and should seek out alumni opinion.
"Stanford alumni still love the idea of being affiliated with the institution," explained survey organizer Della Van Heyst, director of strategic planning for the alumni association. "When the news is bad, though, it's clear that the umbilical cord is still attached."
In addition to gauging alumni attitudes, the survey asked questions about their lifestyles, activities, income and families. Among the findings: 27 percent consider themselves conservative, 44 percent moderate and 29 percent liberal; 38 percent have household incomes of $100,000 or more; and nearly 70 percent have children.
The survey was sponsored by the Stanford Alumni Association in cooperation with the Office of Public Affairs and the Office of Development.
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