Stanford has created a task force to explore assertions, including a recent blog post, that it used admissions quotas to limit the number of Jewish students admitted to the university in the 1950s and to recommend steps for enhancing Jewish life on campus.

Ari Y. Kelman will chair the Advisory Task Force on the History of Jewish Admissions and Experience at Stanford. (Image credit: Courtesy Graduate School of Education)

President Marc Tessier-Lavigne appointed the task force of faculty, staff, trustees, alumni and students, and directed that it report back to him and Provost Persis Drell in spring 2022. He asked Tiffany Steinwert, dean for religious and spiritual life, and Patrick Dunkley, vice provost for institutional equity, access and community, to develop a charge and support the task force.

The charge calls on panel members to:

  • Research “the history of admissions policies and practices for Jewish students at Stanford,” including questions about quotas that have been raised in public conversations and a blog post that cited archived admissions documents
  • Recommend opportunities to “to enhance Jewish life on campus, including how best to address any findings resulting from the research on admissions practices”

“It is important to face our history as an institution and fully understand the impact of past actions,” Tessier-Lavigne said. “I am grateful to Dean Steinwert and Vice Provost Dunkley for leading this effort, and to those who have agreed to serve on this task force. Their work will help the university make a well-informed, deliberative response – making clear that bias in any form has no place in higher education or at Stanford.”

Ari Y. Kelman, an associate professor in the Graduate School of Education who is the Jim Joseph Professor in Education and Jewish Studies, will chair the 11-member panel, whose formal name is the Advisory Task Force on the History of Jewish Admissions and Experience at Stanford University.

Kelman, a social scientist who is a leading expert on Jewish life in America, has authored a number of reports on antisemitism and race. His service as a member of the advisory committee that examined the legacy of founding president David Starr Jordan will help provide consistency across the university’s efforts to examine aspects of its history.

“The task force will provide a formal opportunity for the university to address questions and assertions that Stanford once had quotas on the admission of Jewish students,” Kelman said. “These serious, heartfelt concerns require an open mind, a vigorous and scholarly approach, and a clear explanation for the conclusions we reach.”

Other members were selected to draw on expertise and perspectives from across the university community. They will begin their work in January 2022.

“The work of the task force will enable us to address pressing concerns and lingering questions about past policies and practices,” Steinwert said. “Everyone in our community should feel a sense of inclusion and belonging, and the recommendations will help reaffirm our commitment to a vibrant and valued Jewish community at Stanford.”