Opinion | On the Hoover Presentation in the Faculty Senate

Feb. 10, 2021, 8:45 p.m.

Today, my colleagues Joshua Landy, Stephen Monismith, David Palumbo-Liu and David Spiegel will address the Faculty Senate with a presentation focusing on Stanford’s relationship with the Hoover Institution. Two weeks ago, Prof. Condoleeza Rice, its new Director, gave to the Faculty Senate a useful overview of this institute — its mission, its structure, the range of fellowships it offers as well as her vision of its role at Stanford University. 

Although our presentation follows Prof. Rice’s, it is not our aim to offer a direct response to the claims she made two weeks ago. We began our work on the Hoover Institution in the fall of 2020 out of a genuine concern for the wellbeing of our community and for the reputation of the institution in which we work, to which we contribute every day, and about which we deeply care. We find it necessary to call the attention of the academic community at Stanford to a series of widely publicized statements that senior Hoover fellows made over the past three years, which made us wonder to what degree this institute is aligned with the core mission of Stanford University. We believe that the Hoover Institution’s tolerance of inflammatory and unscientific public statements made by its senior fellows merits setting up an independent Senate committee tasked to re-examine the relationship between Stanford University and the Hoover Institution.  

As Prof. Rice pointed out two weeks ago, this relationship has been a topic of debates and discussions for decades. If established, the Senate committee we are calling for will not be the first of its kind. However, the situation in which we find ourselves is unprecedented. It has never been the case that our society has been at such a confluence of crises — health, economic, social and political — than what we face today. Our society is at a crossroads, and so is our University. This demands us to renew our commitment to our community and to revisit our obligations to the institution in which we participate. Our starting premise is that, as Stanford faculty, we have the responsibility to understand our home institution: its place in our society and its internal organization, its relationship with the institute responsible for its visual identity and the strikingly controversial statements that its members have been recently making, implicating all of us. We believe that the only way to build trust is through transparency and mutual respect, regardless of our differences.

The Faculty Senate is the highest and most inclusive body of faculty governance at Stanford. As such, it is the engine of democracy at our institution. It is representative of all Stanford faculty and open to all members of the Stanford community. We invite you to join us, via live streaming, on February 11 at 3:15pm at: https://facultysenate.stanford.edu/senate-livestream

Contact Branislav Jakovljević at bjakov ‘at’ stanford.edu. 

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