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Stanford Report, October 20, 2000
Hennessy inaugurated 10th president; launches $1 billion Campaign for Undergraduate Education

President John Hennessy on Friday used the occasion of his inauguration to herald Stanford's recent innovations in undergraduate education and to launch a fundraising campaign aimed at ensuring their endurance.

New opportunities for students such as freshman seminars, Sophomore College and Sophomore Dialogues, he said, "have all significantly strengthened the engagement between faculty and students to the benefit of both. Students are more intellectually engaged early on in their time at Stanford, and faculty have found that teaching small classes of enthusiastic students in courses of their own design often has been their most rewarding teaching experience.

"Overall, this venture has substantially enlivened the first two years of a Stanford undergraduate education, and it is time to make these enhancements permanent," he said as he announced the launch of the five-year, $1 billion Campaign for Undergraduate Education, or CUE.

Hennessy said the funds are needed not only to solidify the progress so far but also to allow the university to provide further enhancements to the undergraduate experience. "Building on this renaissance in the first two years, I am convinced that we should turn our focus toward comparable enhancements in the junior and senior year. This means renewal and strengthening of majors, and perhaps most importantly, increasing the research opportunities available to our undergraduates. With such additional enhancements, I believe that Stanford could claim to offer the best undergraduate education in the country."

The campaign, which also will provide funds to ensure that Stanford maintains its policy of need-blind admissions, is "the largest campaign devoted exclusively to undergraduate education ever undertaken by a university," Hennessy added.

Reaching the campaign's goal, he said, will create an endowment supporting all aspects of the series of undergraduate initiatives known as Stanford Introductory Studies, "making these innovations a permanent part of our culture," and will substantially increase the endowment for undergraduate financial aid "so that we can continue to accept the most qualified students without considering their ability to pay."

Isaac Stein, chair of the Board of Trustees, said the campaign "is not about bricks and mortar, but rather, quite simply, about ideas. We need to make permanent the innovations to our undergraduate experience that have proven so effective in nurturing ideas in classrooms and in laboratories."

The CUE is the first major campaign undertaken by Stanford since the Centennial Campaign in 1987.

The CUE's co-chairs are five couples who span the generational spectrum of Stanford alumni: Anne and Robert Bass, MBA '74; Helen and Peter Bing, '55; Susan Rasinski McCaw, '84, and Craig McCaw, '72; Helen and Charles Schwab, '59, MBA '61; and Akiko Yamazaki, '90, and Jerry Yang, '90, MS '90.

"Without financial assistance, I would not have been able to attend Stanford," said Yang, who is co-founder of Yahoo! "The decision to contribute to Stanford is an easy one, as education means so much to both my wife, Akiko, and me. We hope some of our fellow younger alums will join us in helping ensure that Stanford can continue to admit undergraduates without regard to their financial situations."

The co-chairs themselves have together committed more than $200 million to the campaign, and other early gifts bring the campaign total to more than $425 million.

John Ford, vice president for development, noted that more than half of the campaign amount is dedicated to the endowment, "which clearly demonstrates the university's commitment to its undergraduates now and in the years to come."

Former President Gerhard Casper, who is convening co-chair of the CUE and under whom the university made great strides in revitalizing undergraduate education, said that "Stanford is second to none in its commitment to undergraduates as participants in the unceasing process of inquiry. President Hennessy and I believe strongly that a campaign specifically for undergraduate education that will have broad participation is indispensable if we are to maintain our leadership contributions to undergraduate education."

Bass, former chair of the Board of Trustees, said the campaign "will allow us to continue to attract the very best students and faculty, and, as [Stanford's first president] David Starr Jordan observed, to watch good things happen."

The improvements to Stanford's undergraduate education came in response to the 1994 findings of the Commission on Undergraduate Education, also known as CUE, that was appointed by Casper and undertook a comprehensive review of the undergraduate experience. Stanford Introductory Studies resulted, giving students like Ashley Leydig an opportunity to take small classes with senior faculty, such as Virginia Walbot, professor of biological sciences.

Leydig, with about a dozen other students, took Walbot's course "Biotechnology in Everyday Life" as a freshman last year.

"It was cool to work with someone who was still actually doing the research," Leydig said of Walbot's investigations of genetically engineered corn. "She had the time to have individual discussions with us and to talk about the ethical issues involved. And she still e-mails the class members, giving us advice about internships."

Another result of the 1994 commission study was the creation of the position of vice provost for undergraduate education, a post first held by Ramón Saldívar, the Hoagland Family Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, and now held by John Bravman, the Bing Centennial Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

"Over the past five years, Stanford has developed a set of undergraduate initiatives that has transformed the educational opportunities open to our students," Bravman said. "The Freshman and Sophomore Seminar programs, the Introduction to the Humanities courses, Sophomore College and the Summer Research College, to name a few, are all designed to help our undergraduates make the transition from student to scholar, and to make available to them the best aspects of a research university."

The cue's objectives are:

  • $300 million in endowment specifically for undergraduate programs. In recent years, Stanford has instituted programs that emphasize small-group experiences with the university' s senior faculty. Some of these initiatives target freshmen and sophomores while others offer juniors and seniors expanded opportunities for independent study and research. Since 1994, the univeristy has increased its budget for these initiatives from $4 million to $17 million, primarily through the use of seed money provided by Helen and Peter Bing as well as university general funds, other expendable gifts and annual support from The Stanford Fund. The new $300 million endowment, however, will help support these kinds of programs in perpetuity.

  • $300 million for endowed scholarships -- $250 million for need-based scholarships and $50 million for endowed athletic scholarships. Stanford is one of only a handful of private U.S. colleges and universities that practice "need-blind admission," accepting all undergraduate students without regard to their families' ability to pay. Seventy-two percent of undergraduates qualify for some sort of financial assistance and 42 percent qualify for aid directly from Stanford. This year, the university has budgeted $53.7 million for undergraduate financial aid, but only $31.4 million of that amount comes from existing endowed scholarships, expendable gifts to The Stanford Fund and other expendable gifts. Almost $13 million comes from general funds. Compared to its peer institutions, Stanford' s current endowment is low; at Princeton, for example, the endowment covers virtually all undergraduate financial aid while at Stanford that figure is 42 percent. The $50 million sought for athletics scholarships will help maintain the scope and quality of the athletics program. Like the entire budget for intercollegiate athletics, athletic scholarships are not supported by general funds and are provided solely by donors.

  • $300 million to support the full range of opportunities available to undergraduates, including programs in the schools of Humanities and Sciences, Engineering and Earth Sciences, the libraries, athletics, the Haas Center for Public Service, Overseas Studies, Stanford in Washington and other areas.

  • $100 million for The Stanford Fund for Undergraduate Education, which provides need-based scholarships and seed funding for curriculum and teaching innovations. The Fund seeks to continue to increase the percentage of alumni who make annual gifts of any size.

The undergraduate campaign: