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Schools list academic initiatives for next year

Academic initiatives planned for the next year by the university's schools and other units are outlined in Provost Condoleezza Rice's budget plan for 1997-98, which will be presented to the Board of Trustees this week. Among the highlights:


The Graduate School of Business will add an associate dean to assist in implementing a new MBA core curriculum. The school will begin developing additional executive education programs, which may involve adding faculty positions in future years; complete a review of its doctoral program; and consider the possibility of launching a major capital campaign. The school also will finish an addition to physically link its two buildings and implement a school-wide intranet that includes communication with alumni and applicants.

Earth Sciences

The School of Earth Sciences plans to add three faculty to its "ocean margins initiative," two in soil sciences/environmental science and one in high-resolution geochronology, which is the measurement of the age of mineral samples. In a joint venture with the U.S. Geological Survey, the school is purchasing a high-resolution ion microprobe for geochronology. Fabricated in Australia, the new tool is expected to arrive this fall.


The School of Education will begin a new master's program in "learning, design and technology" this summer. Linked to the university's Commission on Technology, Teaching and Learning, the program will focus on the design of technology-intensive learning environments based on developments in cognitive science and related areas.

The school also will begin a two-year evaluation of its Summer Teaching School, which is a component of its teacher training program, and it plans to reformulate the curriculum of the Spencer Research Training Program, which trains educational researchers.

The Cubberley Building will undergo some basic infrastructure improvements and the CERAS Building will be upgraded with a video lab.


As part of its new five-year plan, the School of Engineering intends to start adding faculty in computer science and in materials science, and in several departments that do research that involves collaboration outside of the school. The research in collaborative fields includes medical imaging in electrical engineering, biomechanics in mechanical engineering and biotechnology in chemical engineering. Incremental faculty billets will be used to expand research and develop curricula.

The Department of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management has launched a major initiative on the changing nature of work, especially in engineering, and the role of technology in changing the workplace.

Humanities and Sciences

A new Overseas Studies campus in Cholula, Mexico, will open to students winter quarter. The School of Humanities and Sciences also will launch the Social Science History Institute, a new research center aimed at reintegrating studies in history and social science disciplines that rely on historical data and analysis to frame and test hypotheses.

Programs launched in recent years that will require additional support from the school in 1997-98 include the development of the new freshman program, Introduction to the Humanities, the science core program, freshman seminars and the new interdisciplinary program in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.

In the third year of a program to have all of the school's departments reviewed by external visiting committees, the departments of Classics, Linguistics, Mathematics and Communication will be reviewed. The school is also involved in fundraising to provide more resources to junior and recently tenured faculty and is discussing options for retaining teaching and research contributions from full professors approaching retirement or those who are already emeriti.


The Law School ended a six-year period of downsizing faculty by hiring three new faculty in business law for the 1997-98 year. Halfway through its fundraising campaign, the school achieved its initial target of $50 million. It hopes to raise $25 million more for new faculty appointments and the "rationalization" of faculty salaries.

Ongoing academic initiatives include the program in international legal studies and expanded coursework in ethics and professional responsibility, and in counseling, negotiation and conflict resolution. A new program aimed at attracting more applicants for academic careers provides career counseling and guidance in writing for publication.


Faculty recruitment and interdisciplinary program development are under way in cancer studies, applied human genetics, immunology and translational medicine, all themes of the Center for Clinical Sciences Research, which is projected to be ready for occupancy in the fall of 1999. The school is investing about $1 million annually for several years on streamlining its administrative infrastructure and also plans to recruit new chairs for surgery, pathology, neurology and neurological sciences.

Other academic programs

New university-wide initiatives include welcoming the first class of about 100 graduate students to receive Stanford Graduate Fellowships. The program was announced by President Gerhard Casper last year to reduce the university's dependency on federal funding for graduate students.

Expanded resources also will go into undergraduate education, where about 185 faculty are expected to teach in small-group courses through Stanford Introductory Studies, which includes expansion of freshman seminars, sophomore college, sophomore dialogues and seminars, and the science, mathematics and engineering core.

For upperclass students, academic minors now have been established in 53 fields and writing-intensive courses are available in every major. The Undergraduate Majors Enhancements Program also provides resources to departments for innovative mentoring programs.

The Center for Economic Policy Research has been given authority to make senior fellow appointments. Much like tenure-line faculty appointments, these allow the center to involve a larger group of senior scholars in center research programs.

The W.W. Hansen Experimental Laboratory and the Edward L. Ginzton Laboratory will begin to implement plans for faculty and program renewal and the Center for Materials Research will have its base, the McCullough Building, renovated. The Institute for Research on Women and Gender plans to enlarge its program on women's health policy.

The Hoover Institution recently has established a series of books based on panel discussions of Hoover scholars, Stanford faculty and other experts on a range of public policy topics. It recently launched a quarterly journal, the Hoover Digest, and is entering the third year of producing a weekly television program, Uncommon Knowledge, distributed nationally by the American Program Service.

With a restricted gift from an anonymous donor, the Hoover Library and Archives are accelerating their collecting activities in three areas: China, the Middle East and humanitarian relief. The archives will continue to develop relationships with archival facilities in Russia.

A new $6 million software system for every access-related function of Stanford University Libraries will become fully operational in 1997-98. It can be used for everything from ordering materials from suppliers to providing web-based library catalogs. The Libraries will get a 3 percent increase in general fund budget for acquisitions, which will cause some reduction in buying power because serial price increases have been averaging about 14 percent.

The provost has authorized a one-time allocation of $350,000 for upgrading the information delivery infrastructure of the Residential Computing program, for which the Libraries may assume responsibility in 1997-98. Residential Computing provides students with access to computing services in or near their campus residences.

Academic Technology Support Services has created online course templates and tools that allow faculty to prepare web-based course materials and to enable distance learning. Faculty can prepare web pages with syllabi, assignments, class news groups and links to text or video class materials. Students can share work in progress and construct projects that include multimedia documents.


By Kathleen O'Toole