Dear Stanford family,

As the winter quarter begins, I want to welcome you back to campus with hopes that each of you had a restful and restorative break.

My first four months at Stanford have been exciting and inspiring. In conversations with faculty, talks with student and staff groups, dinners in student dorms, and interchanges with a vast array of other people in the Stanford community, I have been continually impressed and humbled. We are so fortunate at Stanford to have a community of great spirit, great dedication, enormous accomplishment, and forward-looking resolve.

I am also delighted that several extraordinary people have agreed recently to become part of my leadership team for the university.

As you know, Persis Drell becomes Provost on February 1. This week, we announced two additional appointments. Megan Pierson will serve as my Chief of Staff, with a focus on serving as an interface between my office and the university community. And Harry Elam will take on two new roles as Vice President for the Arts and Senior Vice Provost for Education. Harry will become an important part of our leadership team in Building 10, helping all of us ensure that consideration of student and education-related needs and priorities is front and center for the university, as well as redoubling our focus on the importance of the arts to all we do at Stanford.

Both Harry and Megan will begin their new roles at the same time as Persis on February 1.

Along the same lines, I want to let you know about two new initiatives we are undertaking to expand my opportunities for interaction with all of you in the campus community.

First, starting this quarter I will begin holding weekly office hours for students, providing an opportunity for students to meet with me on subjects of interest to them. In the coming weeks there will be information on my website,, about how students can sign up. I’m looking forward to it!

Second, Persis and I also will hold periodic “brown bag” lunchtime sessions open to all members of the campus community. These sessions will be an opportunity for Persis, me, and other members of our leadership teams to update you on key efforts we have under way and to hear from you about issues important to you.

We plan to hold our first session in February. Information about it will be on my website and in Stanford Report. I hope you will be able to attend one or more of these sessions.

There are many issues on the minds of people in the Stanford community, and also across the country. Provost Etchemendy discussed some recent campus issues, including our unremitting efforts to combat sexual violence, in his letter to the community earlier this week. National and international issues also are a focus for many. Some of these were discussed in my comments to the Faculty Senate in December. As our community tackles these issues, I know we will do so through constructive discussion, in a spirit of mutual respect.

This year also provides another opportunity for community interchange: the long-range planning process that I began discussing in my visits around campus last fall.

The aim of this process is to articulate a vision for Stanford’s future, rooted firmly in our mission to use Stanford’s academic strengths to benefit humanity. The process will be collaborative and inclusive, drawing this spring on the deep thinking of everyone in the Stanford community. The end result next fall and winter will provide guideposts for our future decision making to ensure Stanford’s vitality and public contribution over the long term.

Persis and I, along with our teams, have been laying the groundwork for this planning process. There will be many opportunities for your input, and we will be announcing them in February. For now, please be giving thought to your own ideas for how we can further strengthen our university and further enhance its contributions to the world.

The beginning of a new calendar year offers us a moment for both reflection and renewal. My wish for each of you is that you will be inspired by that spirit of renewal to embrace the opportunities and challenges of this year with creativity and confidence. I look forward to our working together to take Stanford to new and even greater heights.

With my very best wishes for a successful and invigorating winter quarter.

Marc Tessier-Lavigne