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May 14, 2004

Comedian Bill Cosby to perform on campus to support teachers in low-income schools

By Lisa Trei

Teachers committed to working with underserved students will be celebrated in a daylong event at Stanford on Sunday, May 23, featuring comedian Bill Cosby and television anchor Tom Brokaw.

The event, hosted by the School of Education, will include a conference for educators, a public performance by Cosby and a fundraising dinner hosted by Brokaw as the master of ceremonies.

All three events are open to a limited number of print reporters. Cameras will not be permitted in Memorial Auditorium, but limited broadcast media may attend the dinner with advance registration. Cosby will not give interviews. Reporters must submit names to Erica Gilbertson in the School of Education by May 19 at (650) 723-2119;

The conference, Inspiring Innovation, will run from noon to 4:30 p.m. in the two School of Education buildings -- CERAS on Galvez Mall and Cubberley on Lasuen Mall. About 150 Bay Area educators who were nominated to participate in the conference will listen to Stanford experts and share their experiences on the subjects of school leadership, literacy, technology and bilingual education. Gloria Ladson-Billings, a professor of education at the University of Wisconsin and the author of The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children, will deliver an opening lunch keynote address at 12:30 p.m. in the CERAS atrium.

At 5 p.m., Bill Cosby will perform live in Cosby on Campus in Memorial Auditorium. The 90-minute show will include the premier of a short film on education in local community schools. This event is sold out, but a live video feed will be aired in Dinkelspiel Auditorium. Tickets, priced at $10 for the public and $5 for Stanford students with university ID, can be purchased from the Stanford Ticket Office in Tresidder Union.

At 7 p.m., Celebrating Teachers, a donor reception and dinner, will be held in Burnham Pavilion at the corner of Serra and Galvez streets. The two-hour event will include Tom Brokaw narrating a video highlighting the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP), an innovative one-year master's program that also awards a California teaching credential.


Background to Cosby on Campus, the School of Education's largest and most ambitious fundraiser

A year ago, Bill Cosby made an unsolicited call to Stanford President John Hennessy, Gilbertson said. The comedian offered to perform a one-man show on campus and donate all proceeds to the Stanford School of Education. Cosby wanted to recognize the importance of good teachers for all students, Gilbertson said.

In response, Deborah Stipek, dean of the School of Education, teamed up with Madeline Stein, wife of Stanford Board of Trustees chair Isaac Stein, and Linda Meier, an experienced university fundraiser who organized the 100th Big Game Auction in 1997, to organize the daylong event.

The funds raised will help establish fellowships for STEP students who commit to work with students in underserved areas, Gilbertson said. The first group of 10 Mary Forchic scholars, named in honor of Cosby's most influential teacher, have been selected and will each receive $20,000 to help defray the cost of the STEP program.

The scholarships will make a real difference, Stipek said.

"The cost of schooling and the forgone income deters some talented people from getting good training or going into teaching at all," she said. "Although rewarding, teaching is also a demanding profession and teachers need the kind of effective preparation that the STEP program provides. We need to make the program affordable to the exceptional people who want to be teachers."

Cosby on Campus has helped highlight how much the school is involved in the practice of education, Stipek continued. "People who are involved in the Cosby event and who are getting to know the many initiatives at the Stanford University School of Education are learning that while we are developing new knowledge about effective teaching and effective schools, we're also working in partnerships with educational practitioners to improve schooling for kids in the Bay Area, nationally and even internationally," she said.

Editor Note:




Erica Gilbertson, Communications Manager, School of Education: (650) 723-2119,

Gene Kates, Cosby on Campus Steering Committee: (650) 364-7252, (650) 303-5565,


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