Denning House, the future home of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, won design approval from the Stanford University Board of Trustees this week, marking another milestone for a program that will welcome its first class of students in the fall of 2018.

Denning House concept

Denning House will be the home of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program. (Image credit: Ennead Architects)

Under the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, Stanford will award graduate-level scholarships to a group of 100 high-achieving students with demonstrated leadership and civic commitment. They will receive full funding to pursue a graduate education at Stanford.

The program was developed to prepare a new generation of global leaders with the skills to address the increasingly complex challenge facing the world.

Denning House

At its Dec. 5-6 meeting, the Stanford University Board of Trustees approved the design of the Denning House – the future home of the program.

The program’s administrative staff will work in Denning House, which will also have classrooms, meeting, lecture and discussion rooms, and a dining space that can accommodate one class of scholars – 100 people – when they gather for regular dinners.

A gift from Steven A. Denning, chair of the board of trustees, MBA ’78, and his wife, Roberta Bowman Denning, chair of Stanford’s Arts Advisory Board and chair of the Humanities & Sciences Council, ’75, MBA ’78, made the building possible.

“It will be a beautiful, open, airy space that will take advantage of the site, which overlooks Lake Lagunita, and draw people in,” Steven A. Denning said. “It will be designed to help build a community among the scholars, who will be dispersed all over campus in various graduate programs.”

The site is currently a gravel parking lot located off Lomita Drive on the west side of campus.

Faculty advisory board

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program has formed a 14-member faculty advisory board, which will help determine the admission and curriculum criteria needed to identify prospective scholars, who represent a wide array of backgrounds and nationalities.

The faculty advisory board held its first meeting in November.

“The first meeting of our faculty advisory board was enormously productive,” said Jeffrey Wachtel, executive director of the program. “We focused on what qualities and characteristics we should be looking for in our applicants and how those qualities may or may not differ depending on the discipline.”

The members of the faculty advisory board are:

  • Margot Gerritsen, senior associate dean for educational initiatives and associate professor of energy resources engineering
  • Patricia Gumport, vice provost for graduate education and professor of education
  • Pamela Karlan, professor of public interest law and co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic
  • David Kennedy, professor emeritus of history
  • Michael Levitt, professor of cancer research and professor of computer science
  • Michael McFaul, director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and professor of political science
  • Nick McKeown, professor of computer science and of engineering
  • Madhev Rajan, professor of accounting and associate dean for academic affairs at the Graduate School of Business
  • Jane Shaw, dean for religious life and professor of religious studies
  • Zhi-Xun Shen, professor of physical sciences and of photo science and physics and senior fellow at the Precourt Institute for Energy
  • Ewart Thomas, professor of psychology
  • Abraham Verghese, professor of medicine and vice chair for the theory and practice of medicine
  • Jennifer Widom, professor of computer science and of electrical engineering
  • Mark Wolfson, adjunct professor in accounting and finance and managing partner of Jasper Ridge Partners

Knight-Hennessy Scholars program

The program, which was announced last February, is named for alumnus Philip H. Knight, MBA ’62, philanthropist, American businessman and co-founder of Nike Inc., who is contributing $400 million, and former Stanford President John L. Hennessy, who served as the university’s 10th president from 2000 to 2016.

Hennessy, who is the academic architect and visionary behind the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, is serving as the program’s inaugural Shriram Family Director.

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program is the largest fully endowed scholars program in the world.

It builds on Stanford’s preeminent position in higher education, with seven globally ranked multidisciplinary graduate schools that foster service, collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship.

The program will publish its admission criteria online in early 2017 and will begin accepting applications in late spring of 2017.

Currently, the program is in the process of finalizing its Global Advisory Board, comprising leaders from business, law, medicine and other professions, which will help develop leadership programs for the scholars and serve as mentors.