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Stanford Report, November 5, 1997

Part II Faculty Senate Minutes: 10/30/97

Faculty Senate minutes

(continuation of minutes)

From the Committee on Research: New Policy on Retention of and Access to Research Data (SenD#4742)

Chair Conley welcomed back to Senate Vice Provost and Dean of Research Kruger who had been ill. She drew attention to the Committee on Research's proposed policy and cover memo in the agenda packets and welcomed several C-Res members as guests.

Professor Goodman, C-Res Chair, said that the proposed policy had been drafted by Associate Dean of Research Craig Heller, and had been reviewed and slightly modified by C-Res members at the end of 1996/97. Answering the rhetorical question, "Why do we need a policy on retention of research data?" Goodman described the policy as being motivated both by Federal regulations and by good business practice. "A conscious attempt was made," he stated, "to make it as flexible as possible and to instill the maximum possible authority in the judgment of the faculty member/principal investigator." Goodman recommended the policy to Senate for its approval.

Professor Naimark (History) expressed puzzlement about the extent to which the new policy applies to research in the humanities and social sciences. Goodman and Heller replied that the policy is meant to be flexible enough to cover all areas, though it is most directly relevant to research covered by sponsored agreements. Maintaining original research data is also important if a University copyright is involved, or in allegations of misconduct, Heller explained. Responding to a question from Professor Harris (Medicine), Heller said that "three years after final project closeout" was chosen as the minimum period for data retention because that is the OMB requirement. He agreed with Harris that a particular unit might wish to establish a longer period in some circumstances.

Heller stressed that the principal investigator must make decisions about what constitutes original data and material, drawing laughter when he suggested that storage of successive prototypes of a locomotive, for example, might pose a real problem. University Librarian Keller offered the services of the University Archives in cases of special concern over storage of a scholar's notes or research materials.

Hearing no further discussion, the Chair called for a vote on the Policy on Retention of and Access to Research Data as set forth in SenD#4742, moved and seconded by the Committee on Research. The policy passed on a unanimous voice vote. Conley thanked Goodman and the members of C-Res for their work.


Report on the Stanford University Museum

The Chair expressed her pleasure at introducing Tom Seligman, the director of the Stanford Museum of Art, a Stanford graduate who had returned to campus in 1991 to lead the museum's post-earthquake rehabilitation after 20 years in a variety of positions with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. She noted that copies of the Stanford Museum's Centennial Handbook and calendar of events had been placed at Senators' desks.

Seligman began his presentation, illustrated throughout with slides, by posing the question: "Why should Stanford have a museum?" Acknowledging that every university does not have a museum, Seligman asserted that part of the answer lies in Stanford's unique history. Leland and Jane Stanford founded the museum as a very central part of their conception of the university, he said. The original museum building opened with the university in 1893; at 300,000 square feet of space it was the same size as the Metropolitan Museum in New York at that time. The Stanfords were ambitious for the museum and had been collecting on a grand scale, Seligman said, but the earthquake of 1906 destroyed the majority of the structure and its contents. The museum was more or less neglected, according to Seligman, until Professor Lorenz Eitner was recruited in 1963 to chair and build a distinguished art department. Told casually by the deans, "There's a museum over there - if you want to do something with it, you can," Eitner directed the museum for the next 26 years. Eitner saw the museum's mission as making works of art available for teaching "where art would otherwise be studied only in theory or through reproductions," Seligman quoted. He related that during the 25 years preceding the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which again closed the museum, over 20 Ph.D. dissertations were written that originated on works of art in the museum's collection and that eight curators at major museums were trained at Stanford. Seligman indicated that a review committee anticipating Eitner's 1988 retirement had articulated three goals for the museum: to give art majors and advanced degree candidates practical opportunities to work with original works in a museum setting; to serve and enrich the cultural life of the university community; and to provide a meeting ground for town and gown to serve the cultural life of the region.

With the endowment of a full-time Museum Director position and the decision to separate the museum from the Art Department, "energy was flowing," according to Seligman; then came the 1989 earthquake and the building was closed by the County. The University decided to rebuild the museum and Seligman was hired to plan for the museum's future and fund-raise for the building's reconstruction. Illustrating the museum's post-quake physical condition, Seligman remarked that the earthquake's "silver lining" was the necessity of moving every object into the basement or off-site and therefore the opportunity to fully catalogue the entire collection. A database including images will be available on the World Wide Web making access to the collections much easier, he revealed. Seligman advised that the architect James Stewart Polshek & Associates was chosen on the basis of an international design competition to design the reconstruction and expansion of the Stanford Museum. Using slides, Seligman described the construction work and the planned use of spaces when the museum reopens in January 1999.

The museum's collection is disparate, Seligman said, and will be kept diverse and broad in future so as retain its potential for use by many members of the faculty, student body, and local communities. He illustrated aspects of the collection, including strengths in photography, Western American and Native American art, prints and drawings, African art, and 20th century contemporary art. Stanford also has an extensive and developing collection of outdoor art, Seligman stated. He stressed that the museum will be bringing visiting exhibitions that have a scholarly focus and relate to the academic program.

Seligman disclosed that the reopened museum will have three new kinds of teaching spaces: a hands-on studio classroom; a seminar room linking directly into the art storage area to allow faculty and students to work with original works of art over a sustained period of time; a special programs room that will support a variety of activities such as film projection, theatrical or dance programs, and entertainment functions; and a special gallery in which the museum hopes to showcase projects related to science and technology research that have interesting visual and aesthetic dimensions. As an aside, Seligman mentioned that the museum will have "the best cafe on campus" and a bookstore.

Seligman presented some figures placing the Stanford Museum in a comparative context. He said that at 117,000 square feet the museum will be 61st nationally among art museums but third among university art museums, behind Harvard and Yale. Its $2.3 million budget upon reopening will rank 130th among art museums and sixth among its university peers, far behind Harvard, Yale, UCLA and Berkeley and about equal to Dartmouth. Stanford's very small museum staff is 22nd out of 32 university museums, he said, and its collection of 20,000 pieces ranks 12th in size. Not only does Stanford have far fewer objects than Harvard and Yale, "we are qualitatively inferior," Seligman observed. He said that he hopes the reopened building will be the platform allowing the museum to attract objects of quality in the future.

Seligman concluded by referring back to the initial question he had posed and declaring that "the museum will only be valuable...if those of you in this room and your colleagues and your students and those in the future figure out interesting and effective and important ways of putting it to use." He said that he welcomed faculty participation once the museum reopened.

Professor Lindenberger (English) asked about the future of the Hanna House [a campus residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright], describing it as "as important a work of art as anything on campus." Seligman said that he believes funds are being raised to rebuild the house after its earthquake damage, and that it should be reopened in 18 months. Responding to a question from Professor Watt (Biological Sciences), Seligman indicated that a 25% expansion was being built into the museum's storage capabilities. He pointed out further that collection building often involves "replacing something that's not quite so good with something that's better." Seligman relayed that the museum had arranged a trade with Harvard of 500 Cypriot pots for one Roman object, eliciting laughter when he remarked that anyone who thought that was a bad move should remember that Stanford still owns 2,000 Cypriot pots.

Referring to the slide showing collections scattered and broken after the 1906 earthquake, Professor Koseff (Civil and Environmental Engineering) asked what efforts were being made to protect objects on display from future quake damage. Seligman replied that very strict building standards and use of the latest museum techniques for mounting and securing objects should provide a high degree of protection. He remarked that in spite of considerable damage to the building, only three museum objects were harmed in the 1989 earthquake.

The Chair ended the discussion in order to move on to the next agenda item. She thanked Seligman for a very interesting presentation.

Minutes continued