Dear members of our Stanford community,

Welcome to fall quarter! I hope you all took time to rest, relax, and explore your interests during the summer, and that you’ve returned reinvigorated for a new academic year.

As we gather to begin a new year, one thing is clear: we are in a much better place with COVID than we were at this time last year. We’re mindful that COVID is still present, and we will continue to monitor the health situation and county guidelines. But as we plan for the year ahead, I’m so pleased that our “new normal” now feels much more normal.

This year, we’re ramping up our efforts to advance priorities across campus and to execute on our Long-Range Vision. I’m grateful to all of our faculty, staff, and students for your contributions in research, in education, and student life, and in our efforts to foster a supportive campus community.

I’d like to highlight a few developments that I’m especially excited about:

First is the launch of the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, which opened its doors on Sept. 1 under the leadership of Dean Arun Majumdar. Classes and research at the new school are underway, and the sustainability accelerator has funded its first cohort of 30 teams, which are leading exciting projects with potential for broad impact. I’m especially grateful to the faculty and staff members who worked countless hours to open the school’s doors this month.

Second, we are ramping up programming for our undergraduate residential neighborhoods in a big way. The neighborhoods have enormous potential to support our students’ well-being, social lives, and academic enrichment. But we know we have much more to do to get there, especially given the challenges to programming posed by pandemic restrictions last year.

We are committed to realizing the promise of the neighborhoods. Residential staff have been hard at work developing inspiring plans for the year ahead and are excited to partner with students in further developing and implementing them. All students have received a welcome newsletter from your neighborhood, outlining ways you can get involved with the community councils as they work to develop neighborhood identities and traditions. I hope you will join in these efforts. You have the unique opportunity not only to make the neighborhoods your own – but also to shape their future for the students who will follow you.

Third, as we work to build a supportive and inclusive community, we continue to push forward our efforts under the IDEAL initiative. This fall, we welcomed our second cohort of new IDEAL Provostial Fellows to campus, bringing the total number of fellows to 10. In October, the fellows will bring scholars from around the country and across disciplines to Stanford for a national conference on racial justice. We have also made some progress in faculty recruitment, with nine distinguished scholars joining our faculty under the Race in America cluster hire. But we know that we have more work to do. As we look to the year ahead, I hope you will commit to exploring the many resources our IDEAL team has to offer, including the IDEAL Learning Journey for staff.

There is so much more underway – from our new undergraduate curriculum focused on citizenship, COLLEGE, which is moving to two quarters in its second year, to exciting new initiatives in the Stanford Arts. Perhaps most important of all, we will be working together to build a strong and supportive community on campus – one in which we can all learn from one another and lean on one another through the ups and downs of the academic year.

I couldn’t be more excited about the year ahead. Thank you, as always, for everything that each of you does to advance the mission of our university, and best wishes to each and every one of you for a fulfilling year ahead.


Marc Tessier-Lavigne