Stanford 'goes green' with digital edition of undergraduate education report

The 30-page publication shows how Stanford continues to increase access to programs and expand opportunities for students, from its completed conversion of Crothers Hall to the newly launched Arts Intensive Program.

ARUE cover

The new, online "Annual Report on Undergraduate Education."

The digital pages of Stanford's latest report on undergraduate education feature embedded videos of students – present and past – talking about life on The Farm, and thanking the many donors whose contributions helped make that possible.

Justin Heermann, who grew up on a corn and wheat farm in Colorado, talks about how he will be the first member of his family to graduate from a four-year university when he receives his diploma in 2012.

Stanford Trustee Miriam Rivera, who received undergraduate, graduate and law degrees at Stanford, talks about how caring and attentive faculty changed the course of her life and allowed her to aspire to more than her inner-city family may have imagined.

Sophomore Shannon McClintock, representing the Stanford Rotaract Club, thanks donors whose contributions have helped fund more than 100 student-run organizations, saying: "You guys rock. You're what makes this possible."

The Office of Development sent an email last week to 82,000 undergraduate alumni, parents of current students, and past donors who have given to programs – such as The Stanford Fund and Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship Funds – notifying them about the publication of the electronic 2008-09 Annual Report on Undergraduate Education.

It is the first time the office has produced an electronic-only report.

Consistent with sustainability commitment

Rebecca Smith Vogel, senior director of marketing and communications at the Office of Development, said the digital-only report is consistent with the university's commitment to environmental sustainability, and with the office's interest in scaling back on printed materials.

"It's a great example of how the budget cuts spurred us to do something more quickly that we probably wanted to do anyway," she said.

Smith Vogel said she was especially excited about the videos in the report, which were produced by Songline Media Group, a company formed by a group of young Stanford alumni.

"We made the conscious decision to keep them short, so they're digestible," Smith Vogel said. "It doesn't require a large time investment to watch the videos and get a good idea of what's going on."

The publication, which tells donors how their money was used in the last academic year, also describes Stanford's growing need for undergraduate financial aid.

Focus on financial aid for students

The 30-page report – readers turn its virtual pages by clicking on an arrow or by clicking on turned-back corners of the pages – says the university's goal is to uphold the promise of need-blind admissions and need-based financial aid.

Stanford is one of the few private universities that admit students regardless of their ability to pay.

In 2008, the university expanded its financial aid program, offering free tuition to students from families with annual incomes less than $100,000, and free tuition, room and board to students whose families made less than $60,000 a year. Students are still expected to help finance their educations by contributing up to $4,500 annually from their summer jobs, part-time campus work and savings.

Thirty percent of undergraduates benefit from those programs, the report says.

"University leaders anticipated the changes would add about $15.5 million to the 2008-09 financial aid budget, but as the recession took its toll on family finances, expenditures for the financial aid budget actually increased by $28 million," the report said. "At the same time, the economic downturn hit the university's finances hard; the endowment's value fell 27 percent in the year ending Aug. 31, 2009."

The report says the financial aid budget has swelled 50 percent over the last two years – to a projected $112.5 million in 2009-10, compared with $75.2 million in 2007-08.

The report also describes how contributions to Stanford have helped fund academic programs, including field studies in Earth Sciences, introductory seminars that allow freshmen and sophomore to work in small groups with some of Stanford's most esteemed faculty, and Arts Intensive, a three-week program for juniors and seniors who work in small groups with arts faculty and visiting artists.

Given the rising need, it is "more important than ever" that Stanford raises a significant number of newly endowed scholarships by the end of The Stanford Challenge in 2011, the report says.