Board of Trustees holds first meeting with new chair at head

Oct. 10, 2012, 1:27 a.m.

At the first meeting held by new chair Steven Denning, M.B.A. ’78, the Stanford Board of Trustees discussed several ongoing University construction projects, including an initiative to add 326 beds to graduate school housing. The renovations would allow 60 percent of graduate students to live on campus, up from roughly 55 percent currently.

The Board also heard presentations from University President John Hennessy, Provost John Etchemendy, Ph.D. ’82, and John Mitchell, the University’s first vice provost of online learning.

Denning, who assumed his new post on July 1, previously served as a co-chair for The Stanford Challenge, a fundraising initiative that raised $6.2 billion between the fiscal years 2007 and 2011.

“We recently completed The Stanford Challenge in December,” Denning said. “It’s fair to say that the enthusiasm around Hennessy and Etchemendy’s vision continues.”

One way in which the University is attempting to seek solutions to global problems is through its initiative in online education, especially with the creation of the Office of the Vice Provost of Online Learning in August.

“We are in a period of very intense experimentation and there’s a lot going on. ” Denning said. “We’ve designated John Mitchell as the new vice provost.  He’s got a small staff … really focusing on the three P’s, as he indicated: platform, pedagogy and production.”

Stanford is offering 16 online courses to the public this year. Of these courses, nine are being run through Coursera, an outside mediator. The rest are run by Stanford-born platforms, including five through Class2Go and two through Venture Lab.

In addition to reviewing an expansion of graduate student housing, the Board also approved the design of the new facility at the Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC), which is being sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The $65 million building will serve as a front entrance to SLAC, housing a cafe, auditorium and conference center. An expansion to the SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source, the strongest imaging source in the world, is expected for completion by 2016.

“You can see proteins folding. You can see atomic reactions. You can see molecules combining,” Denning said.

The Board also discussed the construction of a new space for the Stanford Asian Liver Center within the Freidenrich Center for Translational Research in the School of Medicine. The Asian Liver Center focuses on outreach, education, advocacy and research of Hepatitis B.

Denning noted that while he did was not aware of specifics, he was certain that there was collaboration between the Stanford Asian Liver Center on campus and the satellite center in the Stanford Center at Peking University (SCPKU).

“That’s an excellent example of how that global center is providing the connectivity back to campus and then campus to Beijing,” Denning said. “It’s exactly what was envisioned when you put SCPKU in place: really being a focal point for Stanford programs and activities across the seven schools, SLAC, etc.”

The Board of Trustees also bid farewell to Robert M. Bass, MBA ’72 , whose term expired after serving 23 years on the Board. The Oct. meeting was his last.

Bass, president of Keystone Group LP, and his wife Anne Bass M.A. ’07 have made multiple donations to the University over the years. Most recent is $50 million donation made to the Stanford Hospital in 2012.

On Monday evening, the Hennesseys hosted a dinner at the Hoover House in Bass’ honor.

“It was in deep admiration and appreciation that we acknowledged and celebrated his contribution to the University,” Denning said. “This is someone who’s shown extreme devotion and dedication. He’s an individual that’s really made the commitment, gotten involved and provided an enduring and indelible mark on this university in a very positive way.”

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