October 4, 2017

Restarting the conversation

On Wednesday, Persis and I held our first “Conversation with the President and Provost” of the new academic year. We started holding these sessions last year, and we have found them to be great opportunities to hear from a broad mix of students, faculty and staff about issues on their minds.

Credit: Aaron Kehoe

In my opening remarks, I touched on a subject particularly on our minds right now – our care and concern for the safety of everyone on our campus. The shocking and truly horrible events in Las Vegas earlier this week have been a source of collective grief and anguish. I know that they may make many people feel unsettled and vulnerable, as well.

Our Department of Public Safety and its highly trained sheriff’s deputies are sensitive to these issues, and they provide important resources for our campus. They work continually on threat assessment, they offer trainings for campus departments on personal safety, and they recently launched a new website – safety.stanford.edu – that provides information on threat and violence prevention for everyone in our community. I encourage you to consult these resources, and to always report any safety concern you may have.

The questions we heard from audience members on Wednesday covered a wide swath of issues and reflected – as always – this community’s care for the university and desire to work continually to make it better, and its concern to benefit the world through our missions of education and research.

Credit: Aaron Kehoe

Just a few of the issues that were raised: Promoting freedom of expression and respectful dialogue in our campus community. Ensuring that we provide effective ways of keeping people at Stanford and Stanford Redwood City connected once the new campus opens in 2019. Providing education to help students develop healthy sexual relationships. Advocating for strong federal funding of university research (a focus of my four recent trips to Washington, meeting with members of Congress and the Administration).

We also addressed questions on strengthening faculty diversity, long-range planning, communications channels within the campus community, the trajectory of the biosciences at Stanford, finding new ways for alumni to be involved with the university, and others.

It’s critical for us to hear directly from members of the campus community, and your perspectives are enormously helpful in informing how we think about the issues.

Persis and I will be holding more of these conversations later in the academic year. In the meantime, we’ll continue to be in touch through this blog, at our office hours for students (more information is available here and here), and in person as our paths continue to cross.

As always, we welcome hearing your ideas and feedback.