During its final meeting of the academic year, the Faculty Senate extended the work of an ad hoc committee helping to address issues related to speech on campus and was apprised of another committee’s work on undergraduate admissions.

The senate’s Steering Committee also shared a report on faculty composition and demographic changes and two joint resolutions from the Associated Students of Stanford University: one on the future of affirmative action and another urging Stanford to eliminate legacy and philanthropy preferences in its admissions.

President Richard Saller updated the senate on the protesters who broke into and occupied Building 10 last week. Nine students, three alumni, and one person unaffiliated with the university were arrested, Saller said. Students who were arrested will go through the Office of Community Standards disciplinary process.

University speech

The Faculty Senate voted to extend the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on University Speech for two more years and for the committee to work in conjunction with a faculty leader appointed by the provost. The faculty leader will lead policy implementation, provide recommendations to various units, and liaise with the Office of the General Counsel.

The motion was initially discussed at the senate’s previous meeting along with the two related motions establishing the new Statement on Freedom of Expression at Stanford and the Institutional Statements Policy. Senators amended the original motion to clarify both the charge of the committee and the faculty leader’s role, and to include students and postdoctoral scholars in the process.

According to the motion, the faculty leader should help think through the implications of new policies in different university venues such as in dorms and classrooms, and on websites. They should also provide resources and guidelines on academic freedom and freedom of expression, create orientation materials, and organize efforts to promote awareness of these topics across the university.

Jeffrey Zwiebel, the James C. Van Horne Professor of Finance at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, expressed concern about whether the committee’s ongoing work would preclude Faculty Senate discussion of speech issues.

Debra Satz, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, noted that there are opportunities to raise issues in senate meetings even if they are not on the agenda – for example, senators can pose questions directly to the president and provost.

Satz also reminded senators that “the reason we remand things to committee is because we want evidence-based expertise to inform us, and I think it’s a good practice to do that when we have discussions about really important issues that are complex.”

The ad hoc committee will deliver an interim report to the Faculty Senate during the 2024-25 academic year and a final report during the 2025-26 academic year.


The Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid (C-UAFA) continues its thorough review and assessment of the undergraduate admissions process, including criteria, practices, guiding ethical principles, and related legislation, said C-UAFA member and Senior Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Elaine Treharne. The committee’s work addressing these issues will continue this summer.

Beginning next year, C-UAFA faculty members will observe key admissions meetings as part of this effort. “It's part of this real kind of drive – with the data and policy – to do what we think is best for the institution and incoming classes,” Treharne said.

Following long-standing discussions of how best to facilitate access for international students, C-UAFA is also investigating need-blind undergraduate admissions regardless of nationality.

Additionally, the committee is working to clarify the importance of extracurricular activities in the application process, Treharne said. In doing so, the committee hopes to increase equity and allow students to have a more enriching experience in their high school extracurricular activities rather than simply adding as many as they can.

Lastly, Treharne highlighted the recent announcement that Stanford, like many of its peer institutions, is resuming the standardized test requirement for undergraduate admissions, beginning with students applying in fall 2025. The one-year delay gives applicants more time to prepare and arrange for testing, and test scores will be reviewed in the overall context of the student’s application.

“Qualitatively, it’s possible that further and more careful emphasis on test scores might result in a still stronger and diverse class,” Treharne said.

In response to a query about the kinds of questions included in the application, Treharne said that is also under review and will be part of the committee’s final report.

Thank you

The final meeting of a challenging academic year was marked with a sense of gratitude from leaders. Faculty Senate Chair Mary Beth Mudgett thanked senators for their engagement this year, stating that “while we may not always agree on issues, it is clear that we’re committed to raising awareness, debating the issues, and finding common ground.”

Mudgett also noted that it was Tom Wasow’s last meeting as academic secretary to the university, and the senate joined her in thanking him for his dedication and service to the senate over the years.

Senate Vice Chair Grant Parker thanked Mudgett for her work as chair and – in line with Faculty Senate tradition – delivered creative prose that praised her “conscientious and unruffled leadership in challenging times.”

Parker also thanked Saller for his leadership as president, and the Faculty Senate gave Saller a standing ovation. “We recognize that the challenges our university and community have faced over the past year have been intense,” Parker said. “We profoundly appreciate your equanimity in steering the ship through rough waters.”

Additionally, Mudgett announced and welcomed next year’s senate chair, Marcia Stefanick, and vice chair, Ross Shachter. Stefanick is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and, by courtesy, of epidemiology and population health, and Shachter is an associate professor of management science and engineering.

In memory

Senators also heard a memorial resolution for Joseph Berger, professor emeritus of sociology and senior fellow emeritus at the Hoover Institution, who died Dec. 24, 2023, at age 99. Berger’s theoretical and experimental research explored how biases can shape social inequalities.

For more information

Mudgett is the Susan B. Ford Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences and professor of biology. 

Parker is an associate professor of classics, of African and African American studies, and, by courtesy, of comparative literature.

Treharne is the Roberta Bowman Denning Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, professor of English and, by courtesy, of German studies and of comparative literature.

Wasow is the Clarence Irving Lewis Professor in Philosophy and professor of linguistics, emeritus.