Stanford’s progress toward the ambitious goal of transforming learning at the university and beyond will gain momentum this winter as construction begins on the new home for Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE) and the Stanford Accelerator for Learning, a central initiative of the Stanford Vision. Located near Stanford’s Main Quad, the renovated GSE will bring the school’s faculty, students, and staff together in one location for the first time.

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The new home for the Stanford Graduate School of Education will gather faculty, students, and staff into a central location. The interdisciplinary hub will serve as a prototype for learning spaces for the university and across the globe.

Philanthropic support for the new GSE facilities includes lead gifts from longtime donors Angela Nomellini, ’75, and husband Ken Olivier, ’74, and Tricia and Jeff Raikes, ’80, as well as other generous donors.

“The science of learning is an area of rapid discovery, with promising opportunities to achieve equitable, accessible, and effective learning for all,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. “Contemporary, centralized facilities will be vital to enabling the GSE to accelerate the creation and dissemination of solutions for urgent challenges facing learners in every community. I am deeply grateful for the extraordinary generosity of all the donors who have stepped forward to help realize this vision.”

The GSE will emerge from the complete renovation of the historic Education Building at 485 Lasuen Mall and the construction of a new building at 505 Lasuen Mall that will complement the current Education Building. Completing the school is a third, historic building: the Barnum Center for Family and Community Partnerships, which over time has housed the university’s candy store, career center, and bookstore. This building will remain and retain the Barnum family name.

A courtyard connecting the new Stanford Graduate School of Education will include an outdoor classroom and the Mary Bell Floyd Memorial Garden, designed to be in bloom all year. (Image credit: Courtesy William Rawn Associates + CAW Architects)

Together, the buildings will feature more than 150,000 square feet of universally designed teaching, convening, conference, and community spaces, providing ample opportunities to experiment and leverage the latest technologies and approaches to advance learning. The three buildings will be connected by a 13,500-square-foot courtyard that is expected to become a signature space on campus with unique features, including the Mary Bell Floyd Memorial Garden, an outdoor classroom and garden designed to be in bloom all year long. Construction is expected to take about two and a half years to complete.

“This is an exciting milestone in our journey to create a space worthy of the work we do preparing teachers and education leaders, conducting research, and partnering with schools and other education-focused organizations,” said Dan Schwartz, dean of Stanford Graduate School of Education and the Nomellini & Olivier Professor in Educational Technology. “This unprecedented goal could not have been reached without these early and generous commitments. Together, we are creating something very special for our community and learners everywhere.”

“A well-educated citizenry is vital for a successful democracy; therefore, everyone must have access to a high-quality education,” said Angela Nomellini, who is a member and former chair of the GSE Advisory Council. “We believe that the Graduate School of Education is well positioned, as part of a purposeful university, to make great strides in ensuring that everyone, regardless of background and challenges, can receive a quality education. Our investment in the new GSE buildings reflects our faith in Stanford’s ability to transform learning and our belief in the importance of its mission.”

Tricia Raikes, a member of the GSE Advisory Council and the Undergraduate Cabinet, said the complexity of our times requires fresh, interdisciplinary approaches to learning.

“It will be critical for us to use an inclusive and equity-centered lens as we prepare leaders to solve our biggest challenges. Stanford has hubs for technology, medicine, business, and the environment, but the power of learning transcends all these fields,” Raikes said. “This new learning hub will house and cultivate expertise crucial to all disciplines. Because education and learning have never been more important, establishing this new home makes a bold statement that transforming learning is key to Stanford achieving its core priorities. We are thrilled to be a part of the university’s vision for the future of learning.”

Accelerating the future of learning

The GSE is the base for the Stanford Accelerator for Learning, which supports cross-disciplinary research and design aimed at creating equitable learning solutions that help all learners thrive. Led by Schwartz, who also serves as the Halper Family Stanford Accelerator for Learning Faculty Director, the accelerator plays an important role in expanding Stanford’s impact by connecting communities, organizations, and institutions across the globe to knowledge and solutions around education and learning generated through the university and its partners.

The university’s investments in the Stanford Accelerator for Learning and the GSE are driven by the understanding that high-quality educational experiences are transformational and the need for new ideas is urgent.

“Why are education and learning so important?” said Schwartz. “They are correlated with every single positive outcome – lifespan, health, income, civic engagement, democracy, and happiness.”

While situated in the GSE, the accelerator harnesses the strengths of each Stanford school to improve outcomes for every kind of learner at any stage of learning, including early childhood, neurodiverse, historically marginalized, workforce, and online learners.

Fueled by new advances and discoveries in brain and learning sciences, data, and technology, the Stanford Accelerator for Learning distinguishes itself in three ways: It focuses on the real challenges that learners face; it merges the science of learning with the design of learning experiences to create solutions that effectively address those challenges; and it includes dissemination and partnerships in the research strategy to ensure solutions get into the hands of practitioners and learners outside of Stanford.

For example, the new Stanford Center on Early Childhood – an integral component of the accelerator – will bring together researchers, pediatricians, students, educators, and others working on issues facing our youngest learners.

A hub for collaboration

The renovated facilities will usher in a new era for the school, finally co-locating its faculty, students, and staff. In addition to building community, the space will provide a hub for interdisciplinary collaboration, facilitate contemporary teaching and research, and offer a model for learning spaces at the university and across the globe.

To maximize its impact, the GSE’s work must reflect the challenges and systems that learners and their families navigate. For instance, when it comes to learning differences and the future of special education or early childhood learning and development, partnerships between the GSE and other Stanford schools – like the School of Medicine – are critical in meeting learners where they are.

“A common thread in medicine and education is that we work to improve the human condition,” said Lloyd Minor, the Carl and Elizabeth Naumann Professor and Dean of the School of Medicine. “We are natural collaborators. The accelerator and the new GSE will facilitate meaningful partnerships and really enhance our ability to co-create solutions.”

A milestone fueled by philanthropy

Angela Nomellini and Ken Olivier have a long history of supporting the GSE as well as many other Stanford students, faculty, and programs across campus. In addition to her service on the GSE Advisory Council, Nomellini previously served on the Stanford Athletic Board, the GSE New Building Task Force, the Stanford Challenge Leadership Council, and the advisory board of the Stanford Initiative on Improving K–12 Education. She was awarded the Stanford Medal in 2016 for her decades of distinguished volunteer service to the university. Olivier, who is past chair and CEO of San Francisco asset management firm Dodge & Cox, currently serves on the Stanford Board of Trustees and the advisory boards of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR); previously, he served as a member of the Stanford Management Company’s board of directors. Their philanthropy has established professorships in international studies and educational technology, and an athletics scholarship, and provided support for FSI, SIEPR, Stanford Athletics, the School of Medicine, the Hoover Institution, and the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program.

Tricia and Jeff Raikes are also longtime Stanford supporters and active university citizens. In addition to serving on the GSE Advisory Council, Tricia Raikes is a member of the Undergraduate Cabinet and previously served as a member of the Stanford Challenge Leadership Council. Outside of Stanford, she is a member of the Seattle Advisors Group and previously led Creative Services at Microsoft. Jeff Raikes, former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has served as a member and chair of the Stanford Board of Trustees. He is also a former member of the Hoover Institution Board of Overseers, the Stanford Challenge Leadership Council, and the Presidential Search Committee. The couple co-founded the Raikes Foundation, which focuses on empowering youth and creating a just and inclusive society. Together with their foundation, the Raikeses’ philanthropy has supported the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program, established an undergraduate scholarship, invested in Stanford Athletics, and supported research into successful college transitions and equitable learning environments.