Cardinal Chronicle / weekly campus column

Amid all the coverage of the confirmation hearings for former Provost CONDOLEEZZA RICE, one of the more telling contrasts between Stanford and the State Department came from the Chronicle of Higher Education. In December, the academic weekly ran a chart that compared such things as number of employees, nicknames and famous alumni of Rice’s former and current workplaces. A cheeky comparison of the respective institutes’ attributes ended in a tie—with famous grads such as Robert Mondavi, Sigourney Weaver, Chelsea Clinton and 18 astronauts boosting Stanford’s standing. “Not a single astronaut at State. Pathetic,” the chart scoffed. The Farm also trumped the State Department’s alias, Foggy Bottom, which refers to the agency’s geographic roots: “formerly a fetid swamp.”

Here’s a neat New Year’s resolution, but it does entail occasional writing: Send out an officewide e-mail the next time a coworker or team completes a big project. TIM GADUS, space and asset manager for the School of Medicine, has been practicing this form of positive reinforcement for years. For accreditation purposes, the school’s Office of Facilities Planning and Management must keep precise figures on how 1.5 million square feet of space in 27 departments is used. But whether you’re counting centrifuges or student files, a small congrats can be huge. “It takes a little initiation to get people to want to share those things,” Gadus says. “It’s a good thing to do.”

Words will never truly capture the pain felt by those whose lives were touched by the Dec. 26 tsunami in South Asia and Africa. That’s why KAUSALYA “KAY” GANAPATHI, an administrative associate at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, showed slides on Tuesday at her noontime talk on what she saw back home in Chennai, India, over the winter break. She and her husband, consultant MAHADEVAN GANAPATHI, a former computer scientist here, go back to India annually. Although no one in Kay’s family died, some relatives lost their homes; and for the first time in 23 years, she felt like the people and places of her youth will not be there when she returns again. Her story inspired the formation of Disaster Relief at SLAC, and people can get information on donating at http://www.draslac.org. “I start crying every time I see those slides,” Kay Ganapathi said. “We’re all human. This could happen to us, and I think we should have an open heart and open arms and do the best we can.”

Write to Michael Peña at michael.pena@stanford.edu or mail code 2245.