Stanford considers expanding undergraduate enrollment by 25%

Nov. 4, 2021, 8:44 p.m.

Stanford has raised $1.67 billion from donors to fund priorities in the Long-Range Vision, including the potential creation of a ninth neighborhood and a 25% increase in undergraduate enrollment, announced Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Vice President for Development Jon Denney at Thursday’s Faculty Senate meeting.

Increasing undergraduate enrollment has been a priority for the University, but the lack of housing on campus and county restrictions have prevented Stanford from expanding. At the same meeting, senators learned about the new date for the University’s employee vaccination requirement and scrutinized Stanford’s policies for foreign research funding.

When the University submitted its General Use Permit application to Santa Clara County in 2016, it included plans that would allow it to increase undergraduate enrollment by 100 students every year through 2035. After three years of deliberation, Stanford withdrew its application, releasing a statement that said it acknowledged “obstacles on the path to a successful permit.”

However, with the launch of ResX neighborhoods, the University is once again exploring the option of expansion. Tessier-Lavigne said Stanford has identified the site of a ninth residential neighborhood, and administrators are looking into the resources needed to accompany an increase in student enrollment. 

“I would like nothing more than to say that in the next five to eight years, we grow by one neighborhood and then by a second one — that would be a 25% growth of the undergraduate population,” Tessier-Lavigne said, cautioning that county restrictions remain an obstacle.

The $1.67 billion funding figure includes $1.1 billion for schools and units, $428 million for special initiatives and $133 million for undergraduate financial aid. 

Stanford launched the Long-Range Vision in May 2019 with a focus on the core themes of preparing citizens and leaders, catalyzing discovery in every field, accelerating solutions for humanity and sustaining life on Earth. 

The Long-Range Vision led to the development of the School of Sustainability, ResX neighborhoods, enhanced undergraduate financial aid, accelerators such as the Stanford Impact Labs and the Innovative Medicines Accelerator, as well as planning for a new Town Center at White Plaza. 

“I’m so heartened by the way our community is rallying around these priorities — not only our campus community — but also our community of supporters and donors,” Tessier-Lavigne said. “I’m just so energized by the work that we have ahead of us.”

The University’s current fundraising campaign is unique because Stanford has not set a public dollar goal as it has in past campaigns. By not announcing a goal, the University hopes that its donors will be able to “focus on what those dollars that we raise actually do at Stanford and what they are going to do to make an impact on the broader world,” Denny said. The $1.67 billion figure, he added, does not include all donations to date — only those gifts earmarked to support Long-Range Vision priorities.

Though previous fundraising campaigns have focused on land and facilities, Tessier-Lavigne said the current campaign is focused on providing the “resources needed to sustain and expand the excellence of our schools and units.” 

Approximately 68% of donations have been allocated to fund school and department priorities, including 17% for the School of Sustainability and 6% for Undergraduate Financial Aid, while only 31% is set aside for initiative priorities. 

“We believe that it’s important for us to continue investing in our established schools and units but for the new initiatives, most of them are focused on programs and people and much less so on facilities,” Tessier-Lavigne said.

Vaccine mandate delayed

In her report to the Senate, Provost Persis Drell said that the date of compliance for Stanford employees to be vaccinated has been moved from Dec. 8 to Jan. 4. The date to request a medical or religious exemption remains Nov. 12.

Since Stanford is a federal contractor, employees and students are required to be vaccinated in compliance with an executive order issued by President Joe Biden in September. 

“Previously we had a pathway for faculty, staff and postdocs to say that they did not want to disclose or do not want to get vaccinated,” Drell said. “That alternate path is no longer available.” 

Now, Stanford employees must have an approved medical or religious exemption; otherwise, they are subject to the vaccine requirement. 

Drell added that the University’s Human Resources division is in the process of contacting employees who have not submitted vaccine documentation.

“We’ll be reaching out to individually speak to them about the need to comply with the mandate,” she said.

Drell said that she could not provide the number of Stanford employees who have not been vaccinated, but said that some peer institutions have faced some resistance with regard to staff vaccination mandates. 

Foreign research funding scrutinized

A presentation on the Global Engagement Review Program, or GERP, reignited discussions in the Faculty Senate over foreign-sponsored research funding. The program was established by the Senate in 2019 and charged with reviewing Stanford’s moratorium on research funding from Chinese telecom conglomerate Huawei. 

Huawei has faced intense U.S. government scrutiny over the company’s alleged ties to the Chinese government and fears that its equipment could be used to spy on other entities. The University halted funding in 2018 — though its decision generated faculty criticism

After more than a year of review, the University in April opted to keep its moratorium on Huawei funding in place, with plans for the GERP to revisit it annually, in addition to other research proposals and referrals that present potentially high-risk international security issues.  

Within the last year, the committee received 94 referrals of suspicious engagements, the majority of which were approved at the director-level. Only eight of the cases were elevated to a staff committee for review, and four were referred to a faculty committee responsible for evaluating complex and high risk cases. 

The committee decided against the recommendation of only one engagement — the Huawei funding.

“There was one matter where we made the recommendation that engagement should not proceed,” said GERP Director Jessa Albertson. “And that matter was an extraordinary matter involving a company that is subject to longstanding and widely shared concerns, leading us to believe that the risk associated with that engagement was not manageable for the University.”

The program’s next steps aim to expand awareness of the GERP as a resource to support foreign engagements while simultaneously mitigating risks that protect Stanford faculty and students. They also hope to provide further self assessment tools for identifying risks, and encourage a more open dialogue regarding how to best weigh the benefits of conducting research and the risks associated with it.

“We’ve fortunately acquired some expert experience over the last year or so with different matters that come up,” said law professor George Triantis. “But we need further conversation and it would be great to stimulate more of a conversation internally at the University from different perspectives as well as engaging externally in this discussion.”

Cameron Ehsan is a junior at Stanford studying neurobiology. He served as a news editor and newsroom development director for Vol. 261 and was the Vol. 260 winter managing editor.Contact Rachel at news 'at'

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