Stanford trustees hear annual report from president, tour new Bass Biology Building

At its Oct. 14-16 meeting, the Stanford University Board of Trustees also took action on building projects and toured the nearly completed Bass Biology Building.

At its meeting held Oct. 14-16, the Stanford University Board of Trustees heard an annual report from President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, discussed investment responsibility, took action on some building projects and heard a presentation from the chairs of the ResX task force, an initiative that is taking a comprehensive look at residential education at Stanford.

Bass Biology Building

The trustees toured the new Bass Biology building during their Oct. 15-16 meeting. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

The trustees also honored longtime trustee Bob Bass and toured the new Bass Biology Building, which is scheduled to open later in academic year 2018-19.

Jeffrey S. Raikes, chair of the board, led the board meeting, which was the first of the academic year 2018-19.

Report by President Tessier-Lavigne

Raikes said Tessier-Lavigne covered a variety of topics in his annual report to trustees, including the status of the long-range planning process and some of the university’s current challenges and opportunities.

Raikes said that the president emphasized several goals for the future: empowering the agile research university, accelerating solutions for society and shaping a 21st-century learning community.

These goals are reflected in the long-range vision, which includes initiatives in the areas of mission, research, education and community. The president reported to the trustees that design teams have been assembled to translate the vision into concrete plans for implementation. The leadership of the teams was announced recently.


The work of the design teams will occupy much of this academic year. The trustees plan to review what has been developed through this process at the board’s annual retreat in April 2019, said Raikes.

The president also outlined other priorities for this academic year, including supporting student health and well-being and fostering both free expression and inclusion, said Raikes.

“The trustees came away, once again, seeing what a great leadership team we have led by Marc and [Provost Persis Drell] … how they’re actively planning for a vibrant future and doing that based on input from the entire campus community,” Raikes said.

Investment responsibility

Raikes gave an update on the board’s deliberations on investment responsibility. Last year the trustees launched a review of the Statement on Investment Responsibility, which guides the university’s investment policies and was first developed in the early 1970s.

As part of this review, the trustees asked for broad input from the community. Raikes said that the Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing (APIRL) spent much of last year conducting extensive outreach and receiving suggestions from the campus community. The board is continuing to review the issues, including the input that the APIRL collected, with a goal of completing the review later this fall.

“When it comes to investment responsibility in today’s world, it’s a very complex set of issues and how we approach them requires deep and thorough consideration,” said Raikes.


Trustees heard a report from Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole and Senior Vice Provost for Education Harry Elam, chairs of the ResX task force. This group is charged with looking at how the university can better tie together the residential experience with the academic experience.

The task force, composed of staff, faculty, students and alumni, is examining five areas in particular: housing configurations for first-year students, development of a “neighborhood” concept for residences, staffing structures, housing assignment processes and governance structures.

Raikes noted that there has been a tremendous amount of input from the campus community and alumni, as well as visits to peer institutions and review of data previously collected on Stanford’s residential experience. The task force is planning to deliver a set of recommendations at the end of the fall quarter with an eye to implementing some initiatives in summer 2019.

Building projects

Trustees gave concept and site approval to the Hoover Institution’s George P. Shultz Building project. This project is being funded by a number of private donors in honor of Shultz, who is a distinguished fellow at the institution, said Raikes.

Part of a long-range master plan to reinvigorate Hoover’s existing facilities, the project is envisioned as a four-story, 58,000-square-foot structure to replace the existing Lou Henry Hoover Building. Raikes said that the new building would incorporate three levels of offices for Hoover fellows and research support staff, one level of conference space and a lower level dedicated to priority archival functions, including digitization.

The trustees also gave concept and site approval for four district work centers on the Stanford campus to be operated by the Land, Buildings & Real Estate (LBRE) division.

Raikes said that currently, LBRE houses mechanical, electrical, plumbing and grounds technicians out of a central dispatch area at Bonair Siding. The proposed project would create a district maintenance model that would house technicians in four centralized locations, allowing technicians and maintenance personnel to respond to service calls more quickly and efficiently while reducing vehicular trips around the campus.

The three new centers will be located on Campus Drive near Roth Garage, Memorial Way behind Frost Amphitheater and Panama Street adjacent to the Panama electrical substation. The fourth location will be located in renovated space inside the Stanford Bookstore.

Both of these projects will come before the board again for design and construction approval, said Raikes.

Bob Bass tribute, tour of Bass Biology Building

The trustees hosted a dinner to honor the remarkable service and generosity of Robert Bass, who is retiring from the board after five terms.

“Bob has made incredible contributions to the university and he has worked tirelessly to ensure that the campus is a very special place for students, faculty and the community,” said Raikes.

An MBA graduate of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, Bass has supported many programs and initiatives in education and medicine, including the Bass University Fellows in Undergraduate Education program, five endowed professorships in the School of Humanities and Sciences and the Bass Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, among others.

Raikes said Bass has helped shape the physical campus with lead gifts for the Bass Center at the Graduate School of Business and the Bass Biology Building. He has also served on advisory councils for the Graduate School of Business and Stanford in Washington and co-chaired the National Centennial Celebration.

On Monday, the trustees toured the new Bass Biology Building, which will open later this academic year on Campus Drive West near the Oval. The building and its prominent Nolop Courtyard are designed to anchor a future science Quad, along with the Sapp Center for Science Teaching and Learning.

Raikes said that the building will provide improved laboratory and collaboration space for the Department of Biology, which has the potential to attract great talent to Stanford.

Board secretary transition

Raikes also noted a transition in the role of secretary of the board of trustees, a position responsible for organizing the activities of the board and supporting the governance role that the trustees play as long-term institutional stewards of Stanford.

Phil Taubman, who has served in the role since 2011, has stepped down from the position to transition into a new role as senior adviser for external relations. He will focus on the development of international strategy for Stanford and investment responsibility issues, among others.

Megan Pierson, chief of staff to President Tessier-Lavigne, will serve as the new board secretary while continuing in her role as chief of staff. Raikes noted that is not uncommon for one person to serve in both roles. Prior to becoming chief of staff, Pierson served as senior associate vice provost for faculty affairs and senior university counsel.