Trustees take up planning, construction, other issues

A talk by Bill Gates punctuated a joint session of the board and the Council of Trustees, a group composed of former members of the Stanford board.

Jeff Raikes at a board meeting

Jeff Raikes, chair of the Stanford Board of Trustees. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

The Stanford University Board of Trustees set tuition for the 2018-19 academic year, heard an update on the university’s long-range planning effort, approved construction projects and said farewell to several departing trustees at the board’s Feb. 11-13 meeting.

In an every-other-year occurrence, the board was joined on Sunday by the Council of Trustees, a group composed of former Stanford trustees. More than 50 former board members, whose service dates back to the 1970s, returned to campus for the event.

A lunch visit by philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates punctuated the joint session of the current board and its former members on Sunday. Board Chair Jeffrey S. Raikes, who previously served in leadership roles at Microsoft and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, led a conversation with Gates that touched on topics including artificial intelligence, educational technology and the revolution in the biosciences, among others.

“We thought it would be great for him to share his thoughts on how he sees Stanford, its differentiation from other universities in the world, what unique challenges he thinks Stanford is attuned to address,” Raikes said.

Gates’ time at Stanford was brief because he was heading off for a series of events associated with the release of an annual letter this week discussing the work of the Gates Foundation. “We could see that he was very energized by Stanford, its role in the world and what we can do to shape our long-range plan to be an even greater contributor to impact in the world,” Raikes said.

Tuition and financial aid

Among its actions this week, the board set tuition levels for the 2018-19 academic year, approving a 3.5 percent increase in undergraduate tuition. The board also reaffirmed its commitment to a strong financial aid program that meets the full demonstrated financial need of every undergraduate who qualifies for aid.

Total undergraduate charges will increase to $67,117 next year, including $50,703 for tuition, $15,763 for room and board, and $651 for a mandatory health fee. General graduate and professional tuition also will increase 3.5 percent. (Details are available in a separate announcement on the tuition action.)

For current undergraduates on financial aid whose family financial circumstances have not changed dramatically, Stanford will cover the increase in tuition, room and board in 2018-19. Nearly half of Stanford undergraduates receive need-based aid from the university; 67 percent receive some form of financial aid toward the cost of attendance from a variety of internal and external sources; and 82 percent graduated without student debt last year.

Long-range planning

The board heard an update from President Marc Tessier-Lavigne on the progress of Stanford’s long-range planning process.

Earlier this month, the campus community was given access to 37 white papers produced by four steering groups summarizing the ideas that were submitted for consideration in the process. Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell announced a 30-day comment period, lasting until March 2, for the campus community to provide feedback on the white papers.

“It’s been a very collaborative and inclusive process,” Raikes said. “We all really like how Marc and Persis reached out to the broad community to get ideas from students, from faculty, from alumni, from other members of the community. It has really engaged so many people in the university community.”

Raikes said the process has surfaced ideas “at the level of the broad vision for the academic future of the university” – from reimagining learning to better applying Stanford research to the problems of the world. The process also has surfaced ideas, he said, for “key improvements we can make today, or in the near future, to support the well-being of our community” – in the areas of affordability, inclusion, sustainability, wellness and others.

The university’s Executive Cabinet has been reviewing the white papers and will use the papers, along with community feedback on them, to create a framework for a high-level vision for the university’s future. Raikes said the Board of Trustees will focus on this high-level vision at its April retreat, providing further input. The framework for the long-range vision will then be shared with the university community later in the spring.

“You’re seeing an aspiration and appetite for really rethinking, or reimagining, what Stanford University might be 10, 15, 20, 25 years down the road,” Raikes said.

Also related to long-range planning, the board heard a presentation from Jeremy Weinstein, professor of political science and director of the Stanford Global Studies Division. Weinstein presented on the topic of accelerating Stanford’s impact on social problem-solving, looking at how the university can harness the rigor and creativity of its work to address big, complex social problems in the world.

Construction projects

The board took action on two construction projects, Raikes said.

One is the Escondido Village Graduate Residences project, which will add more than 2,000 on-campus housing spaces for graduate students. Trustees gave the project preliminary construction approval at an earlier meeting and gave final construction approval at this meeting. The project is expected to be completed in September 2020.

“The availability and affordability of housing is a significant issue and has a real impact on all of the community,” Raikes said. “Certainly graduate students are stretched in terms of being able to find affordable housing, so that’s a very exciting project for us.”

The board also gave construction approval for a new building to house the Athletic Academic Resource Center, which supports student-athletes in their academic development. The facility also will provide space for the ergonomic rowing center, the BeWell wellness program and other programs of Stanford Athletics that are currently located in ad-hoc spaces not optimal for their operations.

The new building will be constructed on the east side of Ford Plaza, near the Ford Center and the Arrillaga Center for Sports and Recreation. Completion is expected by spring 2019.

Visit to David Rumsey Map Center

Members of the board took a walking tour to the David Rumsey Map Center, located in the Bing Wing of Green Library.

The map center, opened in 2016, provides access to maps, globes and atlases in both paper and digital forms. The holdings in the collection include items from the 16th century to the 21st. As a result, the center has become a destination for faculty and students in a wide range of fields where maps and mapping have become important to research.

“It would be an understatement to say the trustees were blown away” by the center, Raikes said. “I couldn’t get the trustees out of there to get them back in time for the next meeting.”

Departing trustees

The board said farewell at this week’s meeting to several trustees whose terms are ending.

Fred Alvarez, called “a steadfast and fabulous contributor” by Raikes, has been a Stanford reunion volunteer, member of the Law School Dean’s Advisory Council and founder of the law school’s Latino Alumni Association. Gail Harris, also a longtime volunteer for the law school and a winner of the Stanford Associates Governors’ Award, was cited by Raikes as a thought partner who has contributed valuable insights to the board, including as chair of the board’s Special Committee on Investment Responsibility.

Bernard Liautaud, a trustee based in London who has been engaged in international outreach activities for Stanford, “was instrumental in how over the last five years we’ve continued to develop the global focus of Stanford” – and never missed a trustees’ meeting despite living in Europe, Raikes said. Lloyd Metz was recognized for bringing “great energy and inquisitiveness” to the board and always asking “how can we think bigger,” Raikes said, in addition to being an active reunion volunteer, member of the Stanford Associates Board of Governors and advocate for first-generation and low-income students.

Trustee John Gunn also is reaching the end of his term on the board and will be recognized at the June meeting, Raikes said.

The board also heard a presentation from Ann Arvin, vice provost and dean of research, who has announced she will be stepping down this coming fall after 12 years in the role.