Twelve more students will earn DARE doctoral fellowships in 2011

The senate heard reports on graduate education and on the faculty retirement incentive program. The senate approved a motion to add the director of Hoover Institution to its roster of ex officio members, and to thank the person whose donation put construction of a new child care center back on the "to do" list.

Encouraged by the success of the Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence Doctoral Fellowship Program, Stanford has decided to extend the pilot project for another year, Patricia Gumport, vice provost for graduate education, announced yesterday.

Speaking at the April 29 meeting of the Faculty Senate, Gumport said the university will extend the program, called DARE, to 2011.

The fellowships, which are awarded to students in the final two years of their PhD programs, are designed to help prepare students from diverse backgrounds for successful careers in academia.

Since Stanford established the program in 2008, the university has awarded fellowships to two cohorts of doctoral candidates. The third cohort – 12 students are selected each year – will be announced this quarter. Under the extension announced at Thursday's senate meeting, a fourth cohort will earn fellowships in 2011.

Gumport made the announcement during her annual report to the senate about graduate education at Stanford. In her presentation, she discussed the makeup of Stanford's 8,328 graduate student population by school, gender and ethnicity.

About half of Stanford's graduate students are doctoral students, she said.

In 2009, the School of Engineering had the highest percentage of graduate students, with 39 percent of the total graduate student population, followed by the School of Humanities and Sciences, with 26 percent, and the Graduate School of Business, with 11 percent.

Gumport said Stanford has created programs designed to help recruit and retain women and underrepresented minorities in its graduate programs, especially in science and engineering, and to promote and prepare them for academic careers.

"Stanford is doing pretty well," she said. "We're right up there with our peers. But we still have a long way to go."

In 2009, there were 390 female doctoral candidates enrolled in the School of Engineering, and 247 enrolled in the Natural Science division – including biology, chemistry, physics and math – of the School of Humanities and Sciences, she said. In the Engineering School, women accounted for 24 percent of the total doctoral candidates in 2009; in the Natural Sciences, they accounted for 31 percent.

Gumport said the number of black, Hispanic and Native American students enrolled in graduate programs at Stanford increased in 2008 and 2009. At the start of the 2009-10 academic year, there were 775 underrepresented minority graduate students enrolled at Stanford, compared with 734 at the beginning of the 2008-09 school year, and 695 in the fall of 2007-08.

"When you add it all up, you'll see that underrepresented minorities are about 9 percent of our graduate enrollment," she said.

Stanford's aging faculty

In a presentation on the university's Faculty Retirement Incentive Program, Provost John Etchemendy said the incentive for professors to retire is "unusually low," because they are guaranteed jobs for life and have extensive control over how they fulfill their jobs.

"It's not like working in a factory on an assembly line where, at a certain point, you're glad to get out of the job and retire," he said.

From 1920 to 1950, most colleges and universities required professors to retire by age 65, he said.

"It was a way to guarantee a steady flow of new talent into the profession," he said.

However, in 1978, the federal government outlawed mandatory retirement before age 70, under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. In 1986, the law was amended to prohibit mandatory retirement at any age. Colleges and universities were given eight years – until 1994 – to comply.

In 1994, Stanford launched its Faculty Retirement Incentive Program to encourage professors aged 60 to 70 years old to retire, by making retirement financially attractive. The university revised the program in 2004 and again in 2009.

The current program, known as Faculty Retirement Incentive Program III, or FRIP, went into effect on Sept. 1, 2009. Faculty aged 63 to 71 are eligible for the program.

In a slide titled "The Aging of the Faculty 1993-2008," the provost showed the age distribution of Stanford faculty in 10 age categories, from "under 35" to "75 and older." The slide showed that:

  • In 2008, 22 percent of Stanford's faculty was aged 60 and older, compared with 16 percent in 1993.
  • In 2008, 53 percent of the faculty was aged 50 and older, compared with 43 percent in 1993.
  • In 2008, 33 percent of the faculty was under 45 years old, compared with 42 percent in 1993.
  • In 2008, 7 percent of the faculty was under 35 years old, compared with 10 percent in 1993.

"The faculty is aging – that's not surprising," Etchemendy said. "What is of concern is that the profession is getting – in some sense – smaller, as the profession is less and less able to intake as many young people at the beginning."

Etchemendy said he doesn't know if the incentive program is working.

"The faculty is aging, so maybe it's not working," he said. "On the other hand, it may be that even fewer people would retire if we didn't have the retirement incentive program."

Senate charter revised

After an extended discussion, the senate approved a motion to revise a footnote in its charter to grant ex officio membership – nonvoting status – to all members of the university's executive cabinet at the beginning of the 2010-11 academic year. The vote was 16-15.

As a result, John Raisian, director of the Hoover Institution, will join the senate next fall. Currently, he is the only cabinet member who is not a member of the senate. In addition, the senate will remove two ex officio seats that had been reserved for the university librarian and for the vice provost for student affairs, positions that are not on the roster of the executive cabinet.

During the meeting, no one objected to adding the Hoover director to the senate's ex officio roster. Instead, the discussion focused on faculty concern over the removal of seats for the university librarian and the vice provost for student affairs.

The executive cabinet consists of the president, the provost, the deans of the seven schools, the dean of research, the vice provost for undergraduate education, the vice provost for graduate education, the director of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the director of the Hoover Institution.

Senate appreciates donation to childcare center

In a voice vote at the beginning of the meeting, the senate unanimously endorsed a statement thanking the donor whose contribution revived a project to build a second childcare facility at the Madera Grove Children's Center – known as Mulberry House – on the east side of campus. The center was one of several construction projects that were put on hold last year because of budget cuts.

"On behalf of the faculty, we express our gratitude to the anonymous donor who has made possible the new childcare center at Escondido. This is a wonderful and enabling gift to the faculty, students, staff and children of the Stanford community."

The full minutes of the April 29 meeting, including the question-and-answer session that followed the presentations, will be available on the Faculty Senate website next week.