President Hennessy writes to parents of new and continuing students

President John Hennessy
President John Hennessy

September 2015

Dear Stanford Parent:

Welcome to a new year at Stanford! Each fall I look forward to sharing news from the university and welcoming your sons and daughters back to the Farm.

In September we begin a celebration of Stanford’s 125th year—a celebration that will extend throughout the year and conclude with finale events during the fall of 2016. I invite you to learn more about anniversary events and features.

The coming year also brings a personal transition. Next year, after more than 15 years as president, I will return to what brought me to Stanford—teaching and research. Similarly, advancements that support teaching, learning and research are at the heart of the university news this year.

The new McMurtry Building

Students returning to campus will arrive to newly completed buildings and significant progress on others under construction. For a third consecutive year we are opening a facility in the Arts District. The McMurtry Building is the 100,000-square-foot new home for the Department of Art and Art History and will welcome students for the first time in September. It offers extensive space, cutting-edge technology, and unparalleled opportunity for making and studying art. The McMurtry Building joins the Bing Concert Hall, the Anderson Collection at Stanford, and the Cantor Arts Center to complete the Arts District on campus.

Renovations to Stanford’s historic Old Chemistry Building are under way to transform it into a new Science Teaching and Learning Center to open in the academic year 2016-17. The center will feature state-of-the-art chemistry and biology laboratories, a library and spaces that support student collaboration and will anchor a biology/chemistry district we plan to develop over time. The Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building, now in design phase, will be the next addition to the district.

Humanities House
Humanities House opens this fall.

For the first time in 20 years, a new undergraduate residence hall—Humanities House—will open in September. The academic theme dorm will welcome upperclass students interested in deepening their engagement in the humanities through their residence community. In fall quarter, for example, students will discuss the 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Orphan Master’s Son with its author, Stanford associate professor of English Adam Johnson—just one of many humanities-related learning opportunities afforded by the new dorm.

We continue to develop programs that broaden the undergraduate experience for our students. This year marks the opening of Stanford in New York, a program for students to live, study and work in the dynamic setting of New York City. In autumn quarter, classes and internships are focused on the arts, architecture, design and urban studies. These areas reflect the unique characteristics—and the unique opportunities—of this global city.

This fall, we launch Cardinal Service, a new initiative led by Stanford’s Haas Center for Public Service. Students may take courses designed to apply classroom knowledge to real-world societal challenges. They also may participate in more than 300 full-time, quarter-long service projects, many offered over the summer. Cardinal Service builds on the tradition of service established by Stanford’s founders. It taps into our students’ strong sense of social purpose, prepares them for socially responsible leadership and encourages them to consider careers in the public interest.

Stanford maintains a long-standing commitment to sustainability. In March the campus converted to a comprehensive new energy system—Stanford Energy System Innovations (SESI)—that achieves unprecedented reductions in our carbon emissions and water usage. Foundational to SESI is the new Central Energy Facility, which uses a heat recovery process that is 70 percent more efficient than the previous cogeneration method. SESI will make Stanford one of the world’s most energy-efficient universities—an accomplishment that highlights our commitment to develop and implement new technology and lead efforts in sustainable practice.

Golf team
The Cardinal won the 2015 NCAA women’s golf title.

Excellence and accomplishment on the playing field are a hallmark for the Stanford Cardinal. In June the Cardinal won the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup for the 21st year in a row. Stanford scholar-athletes led their teams to three national championships and extended our NCAA championship win streak to 39 years, capping an outstanding season for our student athletes and their coaches.

Stanford supports its students in myriad ways, nowhere more in evidence than in our commitment to financial aid. In 2015 we expanded our financial aid program to further ensure accessibility to outstanding students regardless of their financial circumstances. Families with annual incomes below $125,000 and typical assets will not pay tuition. For families with annual incomes below $65,000 and typical assets, the expected parent contribution is zero.

For more detailed information about the year ahead for your son or daughter, please click on the relevant links at the end of this letter.

You are an important partner in your child’s education. We share campus news each quarter through the Stanford Parents’ Newsletter, an online publication automatically sent by email to parents. Information is also available on the Stanford Parents’ website.

Additionally, you may subscribe to daily news reports through the Stanford News Service. Faculty lectures and events are featured on Stanford on iTunes U and the Stanford YouTube channel and provide another way to become involved in the life of the university.

If you have questions, please contact the Parents’ Help Line at (650) 725-0649, or send an email to

I also invite you to join us for Parents’ Weekend on February 26-27, 2016. I look forward to welcoming you to campus and answering your questions.

I wish your son or daughter great success in the year ahead.


John L. Hennessy