Stanford Report Online

Stanford Report, May 2, 2001
Paul Brest: 'The next steps are up to you'

This is the text of prepared comments made by Paul Brest, President of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and former dean of the Law School, on the announcement of a $400 million dollar gift to Stanford.

I'd like to share three thoughts from the perspective of a former Dean of Stanford Law School and current president of the Hewlett Foundation.

First: As dean of a professional school in the very top tier—and who strove to keep it at the top—I was acutely aware of how much our quality depended on excellence of the University in which we resided, and how much the University's excellence depended on the excellence of its core: the School of Humanities and Sciences.

The Law School has connections with every part of H&S: With humanities—English, comparative literature, philosophy, history, and (my own personal favorite) music; the social sciences—economics, sociology, psych, political science, anthropology; and the natural sciences—especially biology

What's true for the Law School is true for every other School in the University. And more important than any direct connections, however, is the central, essential, foundational role of H&S within the University as a whole.

Second: I want to mention something that makes the Hewlett Foundation nearly unique among foundations, and goes back to its founder's vision. Bill Hewlett understood that a vibrant pluralistic society depends on strong non-profit institutions—and from the start, a central tenet of the Hewlett Foundation was to assure the strength those institutions. The primary means for doing this is to identify great institutions with strong leadership and provide them with core operating support—rather than treating them vehicles for implementing particular notions initiated within the Foundation.

The gift to Stanford in Mr. Hewlett's honor is an example of this. As a faculty member and dean, I had the privilege of working with three great presidents—Dick Lyman, Don Kennedy, and Gerhard Casper—and great provosts as well—Jim Rosse, Gerry Lieberman, and Condi Rice—who maintained and strengthened Stanford's tradition of excellence. This endowment gift for H&S and undergraduate education builds on their legacy and is a sign of the Foundation's confidence in their successors: John Hennessy, John Etchemendy, and the current and future deans of H&S, Mac Beasley and Sharon Long.

Third, despite its magnitude, this gift only begins to fill the needs of H&S and undergraduate education. The University's and the Foundation's shared hope is that the gift will inspire alumni, businesses, and other philanthropists to step up to support the School. But this is a challenge not only to donors but to the faculty as well. And here, let me speak as a former dean. The Law School campaign that ended two years ago was successful beyond our expectations. I hope that H&S will be even more successful. You should know, however, that, for all of the tremendous alumni leadership and support, the key to our success was the faculty: faculty who were willing—even eager—to go on the road, to talk to alumni about the School's achievements, challenges, and needs. As protective as I was of my faculty's primary responsibilities as teachers and scholars, we all understood that the future of the Law School depended on their active participation in fundraising. However well informed it may be, the dean's or development staff's talk about teaching and research is pallid compared to the immediacy and excitement of hearing from faculty members themselves about their work.

The strength and vitality of H&S depends on your similar commitment. If each member of the H&S faculty gave but 10 hours a year of your time, this would virtually assure the future of the School. Take it from one who has led such a campaign that your support is necessary. And if you don't trust a dean—at least not a former Law School dean—talk to any of my faculty colleagues and find out how rewarding those hours can actually be.

I am enormously pleased that the Foundation could help get you started in this important venture. The next steps are up to you.