Three Stanford faculty members take on new VPUE leadership roles

Nov. 7, 2022, 10:00 p.m.

Three Stanford faculty members were appointed to leadership positions at the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (VPUE) earlier this fall. 

Education senior associate dean and civil and environmental engineering professor Lynn Hildemann and English professor Elaine Treharne joined the VPUE as senior associate vice provosts for three-year terms. 

Psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor Shashank Joshi has taken on the newly created role as Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Well-being, where he will closely advise Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Sarah Church. 

According to Church, these positions were established to ensure student well-being and foster an accessible and productive educational scene at Stanford, particularly in response to the challenges brought about “by the pandemic and by ongoing social issues.”    

Lynn Hildemann

After finishing her Ph.D. at Caltech, Hildemann first came to Stanford as an assistant professor. During her time at Stanford, she has served on various Stanford committees involved in undergraduate education, including the Committee on Review of Undergraduate Majors and the Breadth Governance Board. She has also served as the chair of the department of Civil & Environmental Engineering for the past five years. 

As a part of the VPUE, she is co-chairing a committee that assesses possible new resources and enhancements for undergraduate academic advising. In particular, the committee is gathering perspectives on developments in the past few years, such as the pandemic and the launch of ResX, that may have greatly altered undergraduate life. 

On taking her new position in the VPUE, Hildemann said, “Working with and on behalf of students has always been one of my favorite things to do.” As an advisor for undergraduates with majors in the department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, she typically works with 15 to 20 undergraduate advisees, whose experiences further inspired her to become involved with the VPUE. 

“Post-pandemic, students are arriving at Stanford with higher levels of stress, as well as more weaknesses in their educational background due to two years of Zoom education,” she said. “It is critical for Stanford to figure out where and how our educational support structure needs to be strengthened or adjusted, so that every student receives the support they need to thrive and be successful.” 

Her own experiences as a student guides her role in the VPUE. Throughout her education, she said she has “noticed a huge difference” in having teachers and mentors who are truly invested in her learning and personal growth. Additionally, as an undergraduate at a school that only had three female professors and where 5% of students were women, she said she “know[s] how it feels to be someone who looks out of place.” 

These experiences “contribute to why I feel so strongly about wanting to make sure that Stanford is experienced as a welcoming and supportive place by every single student,” Hildemann said.

Her advisees said they appreciate her sense of support and genuine interest as an advisor. Maria Ridgeway-Elsner ’21 recounted one particularly memorable meeting with Hildemann. “After I met with her and talked about my plans for the future, she created three different potential schedules just for me,” she said. “She goes above and beyond for her students.” 

Greyson Assa ’21 M.S. ’22 shared similar thoughts. Assa said Hildemann “is invested in my journey and is curious about what I have to say, rather than just checking the boxes.” Hildemann was a substantial source of guidance for Assa when he was struggling to choose the direction of his academic journey. 

“Her advice was that things in the short term don’t matter as much as the big picture of what you want to do after college,” he said. “Knowing that there isn’t a set way to do something was very valuable for me. That conversation allowed me to choose earth systems [on the] land system [track], which continued to push me in the direction of figuring out what I really want to do.” 

Elaine Treharne

After receiving her B.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Manchester, Treharne completed her doctoral training as an early medievalist at Princeton University and the University of Manchester. She served as a faculty member at two public universities before arriving at Stanford in 2012. At Stanford, she received the Roberta Bowman Denning Professorship of Humanities in 2013, served as a co-director of the Center for Medieval and Modern Studies from 2013 to 2016 and the director of the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA) from 2016 to 2019. 

Even before taking the position of a senior associate vice provost, Treharne has been involved in several VPUE initiatives, including running two seminars in the United Kingdom for Bing Overseas Studies Programs (BOSP). “I am deeply impressed by the work of VPUE,” Treharne said. “[Their work] is truly valuable, bringing students together to provide a coherent experience for study abroad, personal and professional development, writing skills, and the first-year experience, among others.” 

Treharne is considering ways she can “advocate for ResX, facilitate student engagement in building community in the neighborhoods and [have] faculty be encouraged to contribute to the vibrancy of the neighborhoods” as the ResX lead for VPUE. Her priority is the upperclassmen; she said she seeks to help maintain “the energy and optimism” of freshman year through the later years of a student’s undergraduate career. 

Ultimately, her vision for Stanford is for it to be a place where students from diverse backgrounds can truly flourish. “I’d love to see more cross-campus collaboration, more students involved in research, and a far more explicit valuing of humanistic enquiry,” Treharne said. “Ideally, being an undergraduate here would be the best days of all our students’ lives. If I could play even the tiniest role in facilitating this, I’d feel that my time was well spent.” 

Beyond the VPUE, Treharne said she is committed to elevating the study of the humanities at Stanford. With German professor Kathryn Starkey, she is teaching two courses, a first-year seminar called ENGLISH 21N: “Ecologies of Communication” and a graduate seminar called ENGLISH 370: “The Sustainability of the Human Record.” 

Additionally, Treharne is working with rare books curator and classics bibliographer Benjamin Albritton on Stanford’s Manuscript Sciences Initiative, which provides opportunities for hands-on engagement with medieval manuscripts at Stanford. 

Treharne’s colleagues commended her academic contributions and dedication to students. Starkey said, “Among undergraduates at Stanford, she is perhaps best known as an enthusiastic and popular teacher and student mentor.” 

Albritton added, “One of the hallmarks of an outstanding scholar is the ability to encourage new scholarship and support students and early career colleagues as they develop, and to partner with more senior scholars in productive collaborations. Dr. Treharne has devoted a significant portion of her career to doing just that.”

Shashank V. Joshi 

Shashank V. Joshi is a professor of psychiatry, pediatrics and education at the School of Medicine and, by courtesy, the Graduate School of Education. He is also the director of School Mental Health at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. 

Additionally, Joshi serves on the HumBio Curriculum Committee and Advisory Board for Stanford Introductory Studies. This fall, he joined the VPUE in a three-year term as Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Well-being. He did not respond to The Daily’s request for comment. 

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