Digging for answers

If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, does it make a sound? Perhaps it depends on whether the philosophers examining that question are on Facebook. Philosophy Professor KENNETH TAYLOR and Professor Emeritus JOHN PERRY, co-hosts of Philosophy Talk, a popular radio program that brings philosophy down to earth, are now hosting “Open Office Hours” on Stanford’s Facebook page.

But they’re not the only ones digging for answers with the help of Facebook. Students, staff and community members continue their work this summer on the excavation of the old men’s gymnasium, which was about to open when it bit the dust in the 1906 earthquake. The project, led by LAURA JONES, university archaeologist and director of heritage services, has uncovered historical artifacts. This summer’s dig, which started at the end of June and continues for a few more weeks, is chronicled on its Facebook fan page. Once competed, the dig will pave the way for the new campus concert hall named after longtime Stanford benefactors HELEN AND PETER BING, ’55, who have donated $50 million toward its construction on that site. You can schedule a tour of the site with DAVE DALY, the project’s public affairs director, at dbdaly@gmail.com.

And speaking of trees: Stanford is among the top 10 greenest colleges in the United States, according to treehugger, a Discovery Communications company. Stanford was recognized for updating all showerheads and faucets, which, according to the treehugger website, saves more than 120 million gallons of water annually. Treehugger also noted that the university is working to divert 75 percent of waste from landfills through reuse, recycling and composting and that Stanford also boasts one of the largest Zipcar membership programs, with more than 1,200 students participating. In cafeterias, which produce more than 10,000 gallons of biodiesel fuel each year, the website says, 100 percent of seafood served is listed as sustainable. Others in treehugger’s top 10 include Yale, Tufts and the University of Washington.

(Photograph by Rachel Skokowski)

When the university does use paper, it apparently does so with class. SHAWN ABBOTT, director of undergraduate admission, reports that Stanford’s printed viewbook, which introduces the university to prospective students, has won awards from the University and College Designers Association for overall excellence, photography and cover design, as well as a Gold Medal from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). The admission office joins the Medical School Office of Communication and Public Affairs, which won six CASE awards for its news releases and a special issue of Stanford Medicine magazine, and Stanford Report, which also won a CASE award before it ended its print run earlier his year.