At its Feb. 13-14 meeting, the Stanford University Board of Trustees set tuition for the 2017-18 academic year, approved construction projects, announced plans for its annual retreat, and heard presentations from university leadership, including President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, and the deans of the Schools of Law, Business, Education and Medicine.

During the meeting, the Board of Trustees announced it had established an endowment that would forever name the provost’s position as the “John W. Etchemendy Provostial Professorship” to honor former Provost John Etchemendy.

Etchemendy, the university’s longest serving provost, stepped down Jan. 31 after more than 16 years in the position. Currently, he is serving as a special adviser to Tessier-Lavigne and to Provost Persis Drell.

portrait of Steve Denning in quad arcade

Steve Denning, chair of the Board of Trustees (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

Steven A. Denning, chair of the Board of Trustees, said Etchemendy had “a remarkable impact on all aspects of the campus” during his tenure as provost, working in tandem with former Stanford President John L. Hennessy. Together, they left Stanford uniquely positioned as a leader in higher education and poised to continue that leadership, he said.

He said Etchemendy was devoted to Stanford’s mission and core principles.

“He has incredible scope and scale,” Denning said, noting that as Stanford’s provost, Etchemendy served as both the chief academic officer and chief budgetary officer of the university. The board held a dinner in Etchemendy’s honor in Bing Concert Hall.

“John was unfailingly unselfish and empathetic,” Denning said. “He always put institutional obligations above individual commitments. He was incredibly loyal to Stanford. When asked, he used to say: ‘I have the best job in higher education.’”

Trustees also bid farewell to James G. Coulter and Thomas F. Steyer, both of whom recently completed 10-year terms as trustees.

Stanford’s long-range planning

President Tessier-Lavigne presented an overview of the progress he and Provost Drell have made in laying the groundwork for Stanford’s long-range planning process, which is expected to take about a year. Last week, Tessier-Lavigne gave a presentation on the process to the Faculty Senate.

Denning said the deans of four Stanford schools that educate graduate and professional students presented strategic analyses of their schools, as a way of “kicking off” the university’s long-range planning process for the board: Jonathan Levin, Graduate School of Business; M. Elizabeth Magill, Stanford Law School; Dr. Lloyd Minor, School of Medicine; and Dan Schwartz, Graduate School of Education.

“The presentations were all very good,” Denning said. “The deans were very candid and open. They talked about how the schools are positioned today, including the strengths, opportunities and threats they are facing – with a real focus on the opportunity set they have in front of them.”

Denning said the Board of Trustees will play an advisory role in the long-range planning process, assisting Tessier-Lavigne, Drell and the faculty as needed, and will receive regular updates on their progress.

Construction projects

The Board of Trustees acted on several building projects in various stages of the approval process, including two new projects: The Center for Academic Medicine, an administrative building for the School of Medicine, and the West Campus Children’s Center, which will accommodate 130 children, ranging from infants to preschoolers.

The Trustees gave construction approval to Stanford in Redwood City. The university will hold a groundbreaking for Stanford in Redwood City in the coming months. Trustees also gave partial construction approval to Denning House, which is the future home of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program, and to the renovation of Frost Amphitheater.

Trustees gave design approval to a new building to support the Athletic Academic Resource Center, which has outgrown its home in the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center. The center will also house the ergonomic rowing center and other programs of the Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation. Academic advisers – full-time, professional staff within Undergraduate Advising and Research – housed in the Athletic Academic Resource Center are the primary advisers for varsity student-athletes.

In addition, they gave design approval to Escondido Village Graduate Residences. When completed, the new residences will provide 2,020 net new beds allowing Stanford to house almost 75 percent of its graduate students on campus. “The project represents a very significant commitment to making housing available to our graduate students on campus,” Denning said.

 Center for Academic Medicine

Trustees gave concept and site approval for the Center for Academic Medicine, a building that will include a four-story administrative building and three-story underground parking structure.

The center will primarily house clinical faculty, computational researchers and departmental administration and leadership. The site, which is currently a parking lot, is bounded by Vineyard Road to the north, Welch Road to the south, Quarry Road to the west and the Stanford Arboretum to the east.

The project is expected to return to trustees for design approval in June.

The West Campus Children’s Center, which is part of the Center for Academic Medicine master plan, will be located on the site just south of Arboretum Road and east of the Psychiatry Building, which is located at 401 Quarry Road.

The one-story center, which is closely associated with Stanford Health Care and Stanford Children’s Health, will give clinical educators a higher enrollment priority, but its services will be available to all Stanford faculty, staff and students.

The project is expected to return to trustees for design approval in June.

Praise for outgoing trustees

Denning said outgoing trustees Coulter and Steyer made significant contributions to Stanford during their 10-year terms.

“Both were incredibly strategic, thoughtful, thought-provoking, incisive individuals that did an immense amount of work,” Denning said, adding that their insights, observations and willingness to push the board to consider new – and sometimes unconventional – ways to approach issues were invaluable.

Denning said Coulter served on many committees of the Board of Trustees, and was the chair of the Committee on Finance from 2009 to 2013. He served on the Presidential Search Committee that chose Tessier-Lavigne as Stanford’s 11th president. Coulter also served as a member of the Graduate School of Business Advisory Council. Coulter and his wife, Penny, also provided support for undergraduate scholarship, the university’s equestrian team, and the Coulter Art Gallery in the McMurty Building for the Department of Art and Art History

Denning said Steyer also served on many committees of the Board of Trustees, including planning and management, academic policy, and land and buildings. He also served as a member of the Stanford Management Company Board of Directors, of the Precourt Institute for Energy Advisory Council and of the Graduate School of Business Advisory Council. Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor, established the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy, and the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance.

April retreat

The Board of Trustees, which traditionally holds a retreat in April, will travel to Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the dynamic bio-tech, bio-medical and pharma hub that has developed in the Kendall Square neighborhood of Cambridge for this year’s retreat.

“We’re going there to learn from two of the best institutions in the world,” said Denning, noting that trustees are interested in finding out more about the work the two institutions are doing in the biosciences, nanosciences and the digital economy.