Archive for the ‘Heard on Campus’ Category

Verghese to receive Heinz Award

February 28th, 2014

verghese-150-13ABRAHAM VERGHESE, professor of medicine and best-selling author of the novel Cutting for Stone, has been selected to receive the $250,000 Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities.

“Dr. Verghese’s widely acclaimed writings touch the heart and inform the soul, giving people of all walks of life a true understanding of what it is to heal the whole person — not just physically, but emotionally,” TERESA HEINZ, chair of the Heinz Family Foundation, said in a news release announcing the annual Heinz Awards in five different categories: arts and humanities; the environment; the human condition; public policy and technology; and the economy and employment.

Verghese is vice chair for the theory and practice of medicine. He is a strong advocate for the value of bedside manner and the physical exam — skills he sees as waning in an era of increasingly sophisticated medical technology.

“As a teacher and a caregiver, Dr. Verghese has shown how the best physicians are those who understand that healing is about more than medicine,” said LLOYD MINOR, dean of the medical school. “As a writer, he has shared this message broadly, reminding us all of the enduring power of the human touch.”

Cutting for Stone was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than two years. Verghese’s first book, My Own Country, a memoir about AIDS in rural Tennessee, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has been published extensively in the medical literature. His writing also has appeared in The New Yorker and The Atlantic, among other magazines.

“In my work as a writer, I have always tried to convey the notion that medicine is a uniquely human, person-to-person endeavor,” Verghese said. “In my view, it is a ministry with a calling.”

The Heinz Awards are given in memory of U.S. Sen. JOHN HEINZ, a Pennsylvania Republican who died in 1991.

The 19th annual awards will be presented April 3 during a private ceremony at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.


Help Stanford win the PAC-12 Fitness Challenge

February 24th, 2014


Whether you walk, bike, run, swim, spin, lift weights or do any other fitness-related activity, your exercise routine can put Stanford back on top!

By tracking your exercise this week as part of the PAC-12 Fitness Challenge, you can help Stanford beat our competitors.

Stanford won first place in each of the first three challenges, but lost the title in the last two years to Arizona State and UCLA.

The Pac-12 Fitness Challenge is open to all Stanford faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters. Participants may enter up to two hours of exercise each day and all forms of exercise are accepted.

To participate, visit, sign up, and enter your exercise minutes. 

Ethiopian lawyer receives human rights award from Stanford Law School

February 24th, 2014
Seife Ayalew Asfaw

Seife Ayalew Asfaw

Stanford Law School has selected prominent Ethiopian human rights activist SEIFE AYALEW ASFAW as the inaugural recipient of its Rubin Family International Human Rights Award. The new award recognizes young leaders in the international social justice movement by bringing one such individual to Stanford Law School as a practitioner-in-residence for two weeks every year.

During his stay on campus April 8-17,  Asfaw will collaborate with scholars throughout the school and the university, and share strategies with social justice leaders in the Bay Area.

Asfaw leads a network of legal aid centers in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.  His primary responsibilities include daily assessment and monitoring of the activity of legal aid centers there, mentoring and supervising legal aid service providers and paralegals, conducting human rights training, and building relationships with donors and collaborative partners.

Asfaw works within the framework of Ethiopian law to advance human rights, specifically by expanding citizens’ knowledge of and access to legal services. He plans to use his time at Stanford to study how public interest legal organizations in the United States combine legal services and impact litigation. He intends to establish an Impact Litigation Project in partnership with private law offices, nongovernmental organizations and law schools when he returns to Ethiopia. The project will allow Asfaw to challenge Ethiopian laws and practices that discriminate against women and children, limit freedoms of association and religion, and impair the economic rights of poor and vulnerable people.

The Rubin Family International Human Rights Award is designed to enhance the practitioner-in-residence’s capacity to influence policies, practices and laws that promote systems-changing responses to significant human rights problems. By uniting legal education with a spirit of application to the world’s most pressing human rights crises, this award will also create opportunities for Stanford law students to participate in globalized citizenship and advance a focus on the realization of human rights.

—ANJALI ABRAHAM, Stanford Law School

Law Professor Gould appointed to state labor board

February 20th, 2014


William B. Gould IV

William B. Gould IV (Credit: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News)

WILLIAM B. GOULD IV, professor emeritus at Stanford Law School, has been appointed as a member and chair of California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB). The appointment, made this week by Gov. JERRY BROWN, is effective March 18.

“I welcome the challenge of the governor’s appointment,” Gould said. “In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to meeting other board members, the general counsel, ALRB staff throughout our state, stakeholders and elected officials, and members of the public. I shall do the best that I can to give back to California, which has given so much to my family and to me.”

A prolific scholar of labor and discrimination law, Gould has been a highly influential voice on worker-management relations for more than 40 years. Before arriving at Stanford Law School in 1972, Gould was an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board and the United Auto Workers. He served as chairman of the National Labor Relations Board from 1994 to 1998.

A member of the National Academy of Arbitrators since 1970, Gould has arbitrated and mediated more than 200 labor disputes, including the 1992 and 1993 salary disputes between the Major League Baseball Players Association and the Major League Baseball Player Relations Committee.

Gould is a critically acclaimed author of 10 books and more than 60 law review articles. His work includes a historical record of the experiences of his great-grandfather in Diary of a Contraband: The Civil War Passage of a Black Sailor, and his own story, Labored Relations: Law, Politics and the NLRB: A Memoir. Gould’s most recent book is Bargaining with Baseball: Labor Relations in an Age of Prosperous Turmoil.

—ANJALI ABRAHAM, Stanford Law School

Stanford honors former president, provosts in naming new graduate student housing complex

February 9th, 2014

At a ceremony Sunday afternoon,  JOHN L. HENNESSY, Stanford’s president, and STEVEN A. DENNING, chair of the university’s Board of Trustees, were joined by other current and former university officials for the naming of the Donald Kennedy Graduate Residences in Escondido Village.

The five-building complex, named in honor of  President Emeritus DONALD KENNEDY, will include four “houses” named for four former provosts:  WILLIAM F. MILLER the late GERALD LIEBERMAN, the late ALBERT H. HASTORF  and the late JAMES N. ROSSE.

Kennedy, who served as Stanford’s eighth president, was lauded for his contributions to Stanford for more than five decades and beginning the university’s transformation into one of the nation’s top research universities.

In addition to the four houses, which will accommodate 436 individuals, a fifth building, the Donald Kennedy Commons, will provide social and meeting space and other amenities. The  complex is scheduled to open in late summer and fall.


Professor Emeritus Carl Djerassi celebrates 90th birthday with lecture at Stanford

February 3rd, 2014

Dozens of students, staff and faculty packed the Clark Center Auditorium last week to wish a happy 90th birthday year to CARL DJERASSI, a longtime professor at Stanford and a world-renowned chemist.

Fellow Stanford chemistry Professors RICHARD ZARE and W.E. MOERNER introduced their friend and brought the standing-room-only audience up to speed on Djerassi’s remarkable life achievements. Djerassi then took the podium for more than an hour to deliver a lecture he called “Beyond Chemistry: The Last 25 years of a Nonagenerian.”

If you’re not familiar with Djerassi’s name, you’ll surely recognize his work. Starting in the 1940s, he was a primary player in synthesizing the first commercial antihistamines, cortisone and norethindrone, the latter being the chemical basis of oral contraceptives, earning him the nickname “The Father of the Pill.” He was also at the forefront of efforts to apply physical measurements and computer artificial intelligence techniques to organic chemical problems, which transformed the field.

In 1952, Djerassi accepted a professorship of chemistry at Wayne State University, and joined Stanford faculty in the same role in 1959, earning emeritus status in 2002. In the years since his retirement, and for a decade before, Djerassi has followed his affinity for integrating science with the arts, chiefly through a technique he calls “science-in-fiction.”

Through several short stories, novels and plays, Djerassi has told fictional tales that describe realistic details and struggles of the day-to-day life of a scientist. In his first novel, Cantor’s Dilemma, he explores pressures that can drive a researcher to commit scientific fraud and how academia handles such a scandal.

In The Bourbaki Gambit, his second novel, he touches on the real conflicts that can arise when a group of scientists must divide credit for a major discovery. In NO, he pulls from his own experiences of commercializing a drug to illustrate the intersection of science and capitalism.

Later, he wrote plays surrounding similar topics as a way to showcase scientific dialogue. An Immaculate Misconception dealt with the science behind intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection, a type of artificial insemination, and the societal and ethical dilemmas surrounding the procedure.

In each case, he has presented readers intimate details that humanize scientists and their research, with the goal of making science more accessible to the general public.

“You can become an intellectual smuggler, by packaging the truth in a fictional context,” Djerassi told the crowd. “If it’s exciting enough, they’ll learn something. And I think that’s why my novels have been successful.”

On Feb. 8, Djerassi’s 2012 play Insufficiency will be performed at Stanford. The satire dives into the motivations, both academic and financial, that can play a deciding hand in whether professors are granted tenure. The event is open to the public. Visit the Stanford Event Calendar for details.


Carter, Reardon elected to National Academy of Education

January 24th, 2014
Sean Reardon and Prudence Carter

Sean Reardon and Prudence Carter

PRUDENCE CARTER AND SEAN REARDON, sociologists in the Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE), have been elected to membership in the National Academy of Education (NAEd). They were cited for their outstanding scholarship on the effects of race and class on education and the barriers they impose to social mobility and achieving equity.

The NAEd works to advance education research and to promote its use in developing education policy and practice. The group has produced reports on such pressing national education issues as student achievement assessments and teacher education. In addition, it offers professional development fellowship programs that support the preparation of the next generation of scholars.

Stanford and New York University were the only institutions to have two faculty members among this year’s group of 14 newly elected scholars, according to a recent statement from the academy. Stanford has more NAEd members — 21 of 184 — than any other university.

Carter, professor of education and faculty director of the GSE’s John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities, examines academic and mobility differences attributable to race, ethnicity, class and gender, and she consults with educators about measures to address disparities. She is the author of the award-winning Keepin’ It Real: School Success Beyond Black and White (Oxford 2005) and more recently Stubborn Roots: Race, Culture, and Inequality in U.S. and South African Schools (Oxford 2012. She also co-edited and contributed to Closing the Opportunity Gap: What America Must Do to Give All Children an Even Chance (Oxford 2013). Reardon, professor of education and a member of Stanford’s Center for Education Policy Analysis, develops complex data sets so that he can investigate the causes, patterns, trends and consequences of social and educational inequality. In particular, he studies issues of residential and school segregation and of racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in academic achievement and educational success.

One of Reardon’s recent studies showed that the achievement gap between children from high- and low-income families is roughly 30 to 40 percent larger among children born in 2001 than among those born 25 years earlier. It also revealed that the income achievement gap is now nearly twice as large as the black-white achievement gap, while 50 years ago it was the reverse: the black-white gap was one-and-a-half to two times as large as the income gap.

Read the full story on the GSE website.

Feeling stressed? Check out Open Office Hours with Kelly McGonigal

December 18th, 2013

For all the joy they bring, the holidays can be stressful. In this session of Stanford Open Office Hours, health psychologist Kelly McGonigal provides advice on navigating the upcoming season with compassion, poise and willpower.

Fans brave Baltic weather to soak in Estonian culture

November 21st, 2013

From left, Liisi Eglit, Michael Keller and Kadri Viires

The first downpour of the season did not deter more than 100 hearty souls from across campus and the Bay Area from enjoying a dose of Estonian culture on Tuesday night. Planners expected a slightly bigger crowd but for the Baltic guests used to colder climes, a rare California rainstorm added a homey touch. Sponsored by Stanford University Libraries, the “Estonian Cultural Evening” in Cubberley Auditorium featured two documentaries and an overview of the growing Estonian and Baltic collections program led by Assistant Curator LIISI EGLIT.

University Librarian MICHAEL KELLER paid a special tribute to Stanford philanthropist OLGA KISTLER-RITSO, the tenacious subject of the first film, The Woman Who Gave Estonia a Gift of a Museum. Kistler-Ritso, 93, died in Redmond, Wash., on Nov. 18. “Olga really was an Estonian patriot,” Keller said.

A gift from the Kistler family recently established the Estonian and Baltic curatorship at Stanford and launched a collaboration between the library and the Museum of Occupations in Estonia, which the Kistler-Ritso Foundation built a decade ago. Museum Director KADRI VIIRES, visiting from Estonia, talked about her efforts to engage local visitors, many of whom do not want to dwell on their nation’s difficult Soviet and Nazi past, she said.

Filmmakers JIM and MAUREEN TUSTY, who share a long relationship with the Kistlers through their early support of the 2006 film The Singing Revolution, were also on hand to screen To Breathe as One. This new documentary, which will be broadcast on U.S. public television in spring 2014, tells the story of Estonia’s 150-year-old Song Festival, or Laulupidu. For two days every five years, 30,000 choral singers join an audience of 100,000 to form the largest choir in the world. More than a music festival, the Laulupidu helped unite Estonia and preserve its cultural identity during the 50-year Soviet occupation. The film tells the story of the Laulupidu from the perspective of the Bay Area Piedmont Children’s Choir, one of the few international groups invited to participate in the 2009 festival. After the screening, former Piedmont Choir member ALEX BROWNE, a senior at Head-Royce School in Oakland, told the audience that singing in Estonia taught him about the power of music. “I didn’t just sing the music, I felt the music,” he said. “It gave me vocal proof that it is possible to have a singing revolution, a peaceful revolution.” Estonia peacefully regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The next Laulupidu will be held in Tallinn, Estonia, July 4-6, 2014.

—LISA TREI, School of Humanities and Sciences

Train whistle, impaled Oski and Gaieties herald the 116th Big Game

November 19th, 2013
Beat Cal photo

The Beat Cal sign hangs from Meyer Library. (Photo: Kate Chesley)

Members of the STANFORD AXE COMMITTEE have begun marking the hours until the 116th BIG GAME against the University of California-Berkeley with hourly blows on the Stanford Train Whistle in White Plaza. The noisy tradition is just one of many festivities leading to the annual Big Game on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Stanford Stadium. At stake? The Axe, symbolic of the annual Big Game winner.

Other traditions include the “bearial” of a stuffed replica of the Cal mascot, Oski the Bear, which took place on Monday. Oski was impaled on the top of the Claw fountain in White Plaza by the Axe Committee and Stanford Band. A Big Game Rally was also held on Monday, featuring an eight-minute fireworks display. On Tuesday, the annual Rivals for Life blood drive pitted Stanford against Cal in a competition of blood donations.

Stanford Band photo

Members of the Stanford Band play with an impaled Oski in the background. (Photo: Kate Chesley)

Tonight, Wednesday, performances of Gaieties begin. Gaieties, a student-created musical comedy that pokes fun at Cal, is—at 102—one of the oldest traditions at Stanford. This year’s Gaieties is called Gaietiesburg: A Campus Divided and features a jaded Disney channel star, four hapless freshmen and a rift that threatens to end Stanford forever.

And, on Friday, members of the Stanford community will be able to purchase Nerd Nation T-shirts at the Arrillaga Alumni Center from noon to 2 p.m.

Saturday’s football game isn’t the only athletic competition between Stanford and Cal this week. On Tuesday, the two schools held the Big Sail, pitting the Stanford and Cal sailing teams in a competition on San Francisco Bay. Big Splash, also on Saturday at 10 a.m. in Avery Aquatic Center, is the annual clash of the Stanford and Cal men’s water polo teams.

For more information, visit the Big Game website, watch the Big Game video and check out the Big Game Axe Committee webpage.

Can’t make the game? Then watch it on Fox. Go Cardinal. Beat Cal.