Stanford studying the idea of moving the East Asia Library into a building soon to be vacated by the Graduate School of Business

Speakers at the Thursday meeting included Randy Livingston, the university's vice president for business affairs; Dr. Arnold Milstein, a professor of medicine at Stanford School of Medicine; University Librarian Michael Keller and John Bender, a professor of comparative literature.

L.A. Cicero John Bender speaking to the Faculty Senate

John Bender, chair of the Committee on Libraries, said GSB South would 'present a marvelous centerpiece for the East Asia Library.'

Stanford is exploring the possibility of moving the East Asia Library – currently housed in Meyer Library – into the Graduate School of Business South Building, Provost John Etchemendy told the Faculty Senate yesterday.

Speaking at the Thursday meeting, Etchemendy described the potential move as "a very good possibility," but emphasized that no decision has been made. He said the university has spent about $1 million studying the move and is now awaiting cost estimates for the project.

In addition, President John Hennessy announced that Stanford is evaluating an invitation from the New York City Economic Development Corporation to explore developing a research and graduate teaching center focused on applied science and technology in New York.

Upcoming changes to health insurance offerings

Also during the meeting, Randy Livingston, vice president for business affairs and the university's chief financial officer, announced that Stanford plans to drop two health maintenance organization (HMO) plans it currently offers to faculty and staff – HealthNet and PacifiCare – next year, and replace them with a self-insured employer plan.

He said the costs of the plans – to employees and to the university – have risen dramatically in recent years. Currently, about 40 percent of Stanford's employees are covered under these plans, Livingston said. 

"Up until about three or four years ago, PacifiCare and HealthNet were pretty close to the Kaiser annual premium and they've really separated pretty dramatically over the last two or three years," he said.

"We've really come to the conclusion that HealthNet and PacifiCare are no longer effectively doing managed care. For those that go to the Palo Alto Clinic for their health care under one of those plans, you probably know you can pretty much get what care you want. It's much more of a PPO-style plan under an HMO umbrella."

Finding a new home for the East Asian language collection

The fate of the East Asia Library has been a source of campus concern since 2007, when Stanford announced plans to raze Meyer Library, rather than spend more than $45 million to bring it into compliance with current seismic safety standards.

The Business School, which will celebrate the grand opening of its new campus – the Knight Management Center – in April, will soon vacate the Graduate School of Business South Building, known as GSB South. Originally, Stanford planned to demolish the building, which is located next to Memorial Auditorium.

"Recently, we came to the conclusion that maybe it was a little premature to demolish GSB South," Etchemendy said, adding that the building probably has 20 years – and maybe even 30 years – of life left in it.

"Since we know we have to demolish Meyer Library, and we know that we have to find some on-campus location for the East Asia Library, GSB South seems like a very good possibility," he said.

The East Asia Library currently has about 580,000 volumes  – books and bound serials and journals – written in Chinese, Japanese and Korean. It is expected to grow to nearly 1 million volumes over the next 10 years. (The collection also includes special collections, microfilm, DVDs, boxed newspapers and other media.)

Etchemendy estimated that it could cost as much as $50 million to move the East Asian language collection into the Business School building.

"This is not a trivial decision, so we want to make sure we do the right thing – use GSB South in the right way and find the right location for the East Asia Library," he said, adding that a decision would be made in about six months.

Professor John Bender, chair of the Committee on Libraries, told the senate that last March the group was on the verge of recommending that Stanford build a new home for the East Asia Library next to Green Library East, when the provost suggested GSB South as a potential home.

"It would present a marvelous centerpiece for the East Asia Library," Bender said.

"The old Jackson Library [inside GSB South] is a beautiful two-story space with a sweeping staircase – something one might even imagine a donor being attracted to. Let me note for those of who have never been in that building: You may not love it on the outside, but it's actually a very nice building inside. It has lots of terraces and very interesting spaces that could be used in good ways by the library."

Bender said a new building next to Green Library East is still the "best choice" of the senate committee that has studied the matter for years.

Still, GSB South is a "good choice," he said.

"We don't know what the cost will be of completely refitting GSB South," he said. "If that curve began to move toward the cost of a new building, the arguments for a new building presumably would become more powerful."

Minutes available next week

The full minutes of the meeting, including the question-and-answer sessions that followed the presentations, will be available next week on the senate's website.

The next senate meeting will be held March 3.