The Board of Trustees met this week to approve the University’s budget, move forward with four building projects and celebrate outgoing President John Hennessy and his wife Andrea Hennessy’s joint contributions to Stanford over the past 15 years.
The Board reviewed and approved the University’s 2016-2017 operating budget, as well as its $4.1 billion capital plan — which projects three years ahead in capital expenses — and its roughly $1 billion capital budget, which represents the first year of spending under the capital plan.
Provost John Etchemendy Ph.D. ’82 had already discussed details of the budget at a Faculty Senate meeting last month, where he called the 2016-2017 summary “the most sobering budget report since ’09.” Although the budget has a surplus of $121 million, the Provost was concerned about diminishing government support for research that the University has had to cover with subsidies, as well as a 6.9 percent growth in Stanford’s expenses that trumped its 2.6 percent growth in revenue.
Steven Denning MBA ’78, chair of the Board of Trustees, echoed a cautious approach to Stanford’s finances.
“We’re being very conservative… just given the performance of the endowment and the importance of that payout to the overall budget,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’re being overly cautious, but appropriately prudent and cautious with regard to what we ultimately approved.”
The budget increased modestly by about 2.5 percent overall, Denning said. He highlighted almost $3 million in new funding for sexual assault support, education and adjudication resources as particularly important. The funding, which Denning noted was one of the largest single allocations in the budget, will support new confidential counselors and new staff in the Office of Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse (SARA) and the Title IX Office.
Denning also highlighted the University’s commitment to student financial aid. The budget includes about $286 million in direct financial aid, which represents a roughly 4 percent increase from last academic year.
Large items in the capital plan included graduate housing. Spurred by a critical housing shortage for graduate students, the University is planning a major construction project in Escondido Village that will add a net of 2,000 new beds.
The Board gave concept approval to the Denning House, the future home of the Knight-Hennessy scholarship program announced this February, which will bring graduate students from around the world to Stanford for three years of study. While the Knight-Hennessy scholarship resembles the Rhodes Scholarship in many respects, Denning noted that Stanford’s program will be three times the size of the Rhodes and will be open to students from all countries.
The planned Denning House is relatively small, at 20,000 square feet, and will be located near Lake Lagunita. Site approval is expected this October. Rather than provide housing (Knight-Hennessy scholars will live all throughout campus), the Denning House will serve as an “interaction hub” for the 300 total students that program will host once it is fully established. The building will be completed by September 2018, when the Knight-Hennessy scholars program is set to launch with an initial cohort of 50 students.
The Board also gave construction approval to three projects. It green-lighted construction for the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building, which will host about half of the biology department’s personnel when completed in late 2018. It also approved the replacement of apartments in Kingscote Gardens near Lake Lagunita, with a central hub for students to seek counseling from a number of offices related to sexual assault, mental health and diversity. Finally, the Board approved renovations of the Schwab Residential Center that Denning said will put its facilities on par with the GSB’s newer Highland Hall.
The Board also heard short presentations from Stanford faculty on intellectual property law, poverty and educational inequality and Stanford’s interdisciplinary centers such as Bio-X and the Woods Institute for the Environment.
Finally, last night, the Board honored John and Andrea Hennessy with a dinner at Bing Concert Hall. Denning said the event emphasized, among other accomplishments, both John and Andrea Hennessy’s work to make the arts “core to a Stanford education” with construction of the arts district and the new programming that followed. The Board presented a Diebenkorn painting as its parting gift to the Hennessy couple.
Contact Hannah Knowles at hknowles ‘at’ stanford.edu.