Stanford Family Weekend opens

Family Weekend
Mom Brenda Feis meets up with her son, Andy, at last year’s celebration. (Photo by Linda Cicero)

Stanford plans to welcome nearly 4,000 people to campus Friday for two days of festivities during Family Weekend 2017.

Activities include tours, “Back to School Classes,” receptions in community centers and residence halls and an “Entertainment Extravaganza” featuring performances by student ensembles.

It will be the first Family Weekend for Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, who took office on Sept. 1, 2016, as the university’s 11th president. Tessier-Lavigne, who is also a Stanford parent, will welcome visitors on Friday morning in Memorial Auditorium.


Stanford changed the name of the event to “Family Weekend” from “Parents’ Weekend” last year, saying the new name better reflects the university’s strong commitment to inclusivity and its desire to welcome all the people who support students – be they guardians, grandparents, aunts or uncles, siblings or others.

There are tours galore, of the Anderson Collection at Stanford, the David Rumsey Map Center, the Science & Engineering Quad, Bing Concert Hall, Stanford Stadium and more. The program includes a behind-the-scenes tour of Arrillaga Family Dining Commons.

There are outdoor activities as well, ranging from architectural and landscape tours to a tour of the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve.

During “Conversations for Families,” senior administrators will moderate panel discussions specific to each class year – first-year, sophomores, juniors and seniors. The panelists include staff members with responsibility for alcohol policy and education, religious life, psychological services, public service and career education.

Community Centers will open their doors, as well. The Markaz: Resource Center is presenting a student discussion panel. Hillel, which is part of the Ziff Center for Jewish Life, is inviting visitors to mix, braid and bake challah. The LGBT Community Resources Center is inviting visitors to hear panelists talk about their personal experiences at Stanford.

The Haas Center for Public Service is holding a panel discussion on Friday about Cardinal Service, the university-wide initiative to expand and elevate service as a distinctive feature of a Stanford education.

Families are invited to join their students for Friday lunches and Saturday brunches in residence halls in several campus neighborhoods.

On Friday evening, students, along with family members – including brothers and sisters – are invited to participate in a celebration of writing and performances by reading their own work during the Hume Center for Writing and Speaking Open House. Dessert will be served during the program of lively, thoughtful poetry and prose.

Among the most popular offerings during the weekend are “Back to School Classes,” which will be held on Saturday. Among the 14 classes:

  • Constitutional Rights of Immigrants: A Look at Immigration Detention, taught by Jayashri Srikantiah, professor of law and director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic
  • A New Cold War? Explaining Russia’s New Confrontation with the West, taught by Michael McFaul, director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
  • The Frontiers of Earth Science: Passion with Purpose, moderated by Margot Gerritson, associate professor of energy resources engineering
  • Beyond Blame and Shame: Helping Students Engage Difference with Empathy, taught by Dereca Blackmon, associate dean and director of the Diversity and First Gen Office
  • Decoding Cyber Threats, taught by Amy Zegart, co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation

Saturday opens with a resource fair designed to help connect families more fully to the services and programs available to students. Nearly three dozen campus programs are participating in the resource fair, including BEAM, Stanford Career Education, the Office for Military-Affiliated Communities and Stanford in New York.

The two-day event ends late Saturday afternoon when the Parents’ Club of Stanford University presents the “Entertainment Extravaganza!” The event will showcase six student ensembles: Akasma Belly Dance, Dv8, Fleet Street, The Harmonics and Noopur with Spicmacay.

Family Weekend is organized by the Office of Special Events & Protocol, a division of the Office of Development.