Dear Students,

I hope that Winter Quarter is going well for you. While we are fortunate to enjoy mild weather here in Palo Alto, I am mindful that many in our community have been affected by the winter storms that swept through much of the country last week.

For those who are in the affected regions – or who have family and loved ones who have been affected – I hope that you are safe and well. Please reach out if you have any needs that we are able to help with.

Today I’m writing to let you know about two recent developments concerning our goal to advance diversity, inclusion, equity, access, and racial justice at Stanford. This is an effort that I am very passionate about; my hope is that through our work we can bring about concrete and long-lasting change to the university and to society, in general.

Update on Racial Justice Initiatives at Stanford

Yesterday President Tessier-Lavigne and I held a Campus Conversation providing an update on our racial justice initiatives. We were joined by Professor Claude Steele and Stanford alumnus and trustee Charles Young, who are leading major efforts in this area.

Topics covered included updates on the following:

We also announced that the Framework Task Force made an interim recommendation regarding African and African-American Studies as follows: We recommend in principle the departmentalization of AAAS, and suggest that a subcommittee should be formed to develop the details.

We have accepted this recommendation and a subcommittee will work out the details, including the intellectual scope of the proposed department, a plan for a curriculum, an assessment of faculty needs, including faculty willing to relocate their appointment to the new department and a detailed timeline for implementation.

This is an exciting first step and we look forward to supporting this effort to conclusion.

You can read more about the Campus Conversation in Stanford Today. A recording of the session will be available in a few days.

IDEAL Dashboards

Yesterday we released three new IDEAL dashboards that display additional demographic data about Stanford students, faculty and staff. These new visualizations are in response to feedback we received from the campus community when we released the first IDEAL dashboard in 2019.

You can read the full story in Stanford Today.

Our goal in releasing this information is to be transparent about the composition of the campus community and to help us monitor our progress toward advancing diversity, equity and inclusion.

As you peruse the dashboards — in particular the data on race and ethnicity — you may find instances where the data don’t match your observations of the campus community. Please keep in mind that these data are based on the choices of individuals, and they may not have seen themselves in the category options given. Also, some community members chose not to identify their race and/or ethnicity.

Balancing privacy issues with our transparency goals has been a major consideration as we developed the dashboards. Some of the groups in the data are small, and there is a risk that individuals might be identified. In the case of student data, we made a decision to redact demographic information for majors with five or fewer individuals.

Out of privacy concerns, we are restricting the use of the dashboards to those with a SUNet ID. I ask you to please respect the terms of use and not share the data contained in the dashboards outside the Stanford community. We welcome your suggestions on how to improve the presentation and content of the dashboards.

I am pleased that we are progressing on our IDEAL initiatives, but we have much more to do. As individuals and as a university, we must continue our efforts to create the truly inclusive university and society that we want to see. I’m grateful to the many dedicated Stanford community members who are helping us move toward this goal.

Persis Drell