Faculty Senate addresses immigration issues, Stanford’s long-range planning effort

Speakers at Thursday’s meeting included President Marc Tessier-Lavigne; Provost Persis Drell; M. Elizabeth Magill, dean of Stanford Law School; Elizabeth Bernhardt, professor of German studies; Mehran Sahami, professor (teaching) of computer science; and Christine Alfano, associate director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric.

At its Feb. 9 meeting, the Faculty Senate heard updates from President Marc Tessier-Lavigne on Stanford’s long-range planning process and its efforts to support and assist its immigrant and international community, heard a presentation on Stanford Law School, discussed non-tenure-track faculty and passed a resolution on immigration policies.

University long-range planning

At the meeting, Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell presented an outline of Stanford’s long-range planning process, which is expected to take about a year. They also sought feedback and answered questions about the process.

Marc Tessier-Lavigne talking.

President Marc Tessier-Lavigne discussing the university’s long-range planning process at Thursday’s Faculty Senate meeting. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

Tessier-Lavigne said the process will be collaborative and inclusive, and represents an opportunity to build community. He said faculty and academic leadership will play a leading role, in partnership with students and staff, and in consultation with trustees, alumni and others.

“When you think about long-range planning, it’s helpful to think about some guiding questions,” he said, and offered a few examples:

  • In a rapidly changing world, how can we best equip students with the tools needed to have fulfilling lives and be productive citizens?
  • How does the education of our students need to be rethought in the face of external forces and emerging trends?
  • What kinds of research and creative endeavors hold the greatest potential to advance knowledge and also to improve the world, and what challenges and opportunities do we foresee?
  • What are the most significant contributions Stanford can make to the world in the next 25 to 50 years?
  • How do we maximize the impact of our various initiatives and our research?
  • How will Stanford need to change to address the major opportunities and challenges of the future and what foundational aspects need to be strengthened?

Tessier-Lavigne and Drell will co-chair the planning group, which will also include their chiefs of staff; all seven deans; the vice provosts for undergraduate education, graduate education and research; the directors of the Hoover Institution and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory; and the vice presidents of strategic planning and of development.

He said Stanford has developed a preliminary statement of purpose for the long-range planning process, and invited the faculty to provide feedback.

He read the statement aloud: “The university community is engaging collectively in a long-range planning process to create a shared vision to educate students to think broadly and deeply as engaged world citizens and leaders, extend the frontiers of knowledge and stimulate creativity, and amplify the university’s contributions to our country, humanity and an increasingly complex and interdependent world.”

Tessier-Lavigne said the process will be organized around at least four key areas: education, research, our community and engagement beyond the university. A steering group, composed of faculty, students and academic staff, will be created for each area.

He invited the entire Stanford community to submit ideas and proposals pertaining to one or more areas and “identifying where we want to go and ideally how to get there.” He said the goal of requesting proposals was to stimulate thinking and creativity, and to enable the entire community to take part in the process of developing a shared vision for Stanford’s future. The deadlines for submitting proposals – of up to three pages – are May 1 for priority consideration and June 1.

University immigration policies

Tessier-Lavigne also updated the senate about the university’s ongoing work to support its international and immigrant communities in the wake of the federal administration’s executive order restricting immigration.

“Even though the executive order has been temporarily suspended, this continues to be an anxious and distressing time for many people in our community,” he said.

M. Elizabeth Magill standing in front of the Faculty Senate.

M. Elizabeth Magill, dean of the Law School, addressing the Faculty Senate. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

He thanked people across campus who have been working around the clock to support members of the university’s international community, including students who have stepped up to support each other and to vocally express their views.

“The engagement of our campus community really indicates our care for other members of this community, and for our mission and values as a university,” he said.

Tessier-Lavigne directed the senate’s attention to the Statement of Stanford Leadership on Immigration Principles, which the university posted Jan. 29 on the university’s Immigration Policy Issues website.

“Let me be clear,” he told the senate. “We intend to do everything in our power to protect and support our students, faculty and staff, including those who are undocumented. They are equal members of our community.”

Tessier-Lavigne said he recently joined 47 other college and university presidents in a Feb. 2 letter to President Donald Trump regarding the executive order. Tessier-Lavigne read the opening paragraph aloud:

“We write as presidents of leading American colleges and universities to urge you to rectify or rescind the recent executive order closing our country’s borders to immigrants and others from seven majority-Muslim countries and to refugees from throughout the world. If left in place, the order threatens both American higher education and the defining principles of our country.”

Tessier-Lavigne said Stanford will continue and expand its efforts to provide support and assistance to its international community. He said Stanford has a work team actively meeting to identify emerging needs and questions, so that the university can further enhance its support for its community.

“Our goal is to mindfully and assertively support our mission and values, which means supporting the members of our community and international academic community,” he said. “We hope to do so in a way that is responsive rather than reactive – given the constantly changing and often conflicting information – and in a way that ultimately helps the people in our community most affected by these issues.”

The full text of Tessier-Lavigne’s remarks on immigration are posted on the president’s website.

Senate resolution

The senate resolution approved at Thursday’s meeting expressed concern over the recent U.S. presidential executive order restricting immigration. The resolution commended Stanford’s leadership for its commitment to all members of the university community, and commended the many individual and collective measures that have been taken at Stanford to assist vulnerable members of the community. It also stated:

“Stanford is both an American and a global university. We affirm our commitment to education and research for the benefit of our community, the United States, and the world. While we recognize the importance of national security, we question the wisdom of the recent U.S. presidential executive order and fear that it undermines the core values – non-discrimination, truth, fairness, and evidence-based research – to which our university is committed. The senate will do everything in its power to protect all members of our community who are vulnerable to these measures and will remain vigilant about future actions that threaten our educational mission and core values.”

Stanford Law School

In other business, M. Elizabeth Magill, dean of Stanford Law School, presented a profile of the school, which has 65 faculty members, 579 law students and 106 foreign-trained lawyers who are spending a year at Stanford earning advanced degrees.

“About 40 percent of our research faculty have PhDs as well as JDs, and 12 of the 14 recent hires at the Law School have PhDs and JDs,” she said. “So the trend is increasing to interdisciplinary hiring.”

Magill described Stanford Law School as “the proverbial big tent” school.

“All of us are interested in law and legal systems, but we have on our faculty lawyer advocates and legal historians and those who have PhDs in physics as well as JDs,” she said.

Magill briefly discussed new programs in law and policy, global legal practice and technology of law.

She said she hoped the presentation would pique interest in the Law School among faculty who might think about co-authoring papers, and among faculty who might consider referring their students to its programs.

Non-tenure-track faculty

The senate also heard presentations on non-tenure-track faculty from Elizabeth Bernhardt, professor of German studies and director of the Stanford Language Center; Mehran Sahami, professor (teaching) of computer science and associate chair for education in the Computer Science Department; and Christine Alfano, advanced lecturer and associate director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric.

The full minutes of the Feb. 9 meeting, including the discussion that followed the presentations, will be posted on the Faculty Senate website. The next senate meeting is scheduled for Feb. 23.