President Tessier-Lavigne’s message to the Stanford family

On his first day in office, Sept. 1, President Marc Tessier-Lavigne sent the following message to members of the Stanford family.



Dear Stanford family,

I am thrilled to be rejoining the Stanford community today! After following from afar all that you have been accomplishing at this remarkable institution, I am humbled and honored to take over from President Hennessy. In the coming weeks and months, I plan to meet as many of you as possible to learn your concerns and needs, as well as your dreams and aspirations for our university, and how best to support our core mission of fostering education, research and creativity for the benefit of humanity.

During these transitional months, I have taken the opportunity to immerse myself in all-things-Stanford. I am impressed and awed by the scope of your activities, from the talent on display at our Summer Humanities Institute and Summer Arts Institute to the many Stanford people engaged in summer volunteerism around the world, to countless new discoveries, such as a device that uses solar energy to disinfect water, analysis revealing deep inequities in public education, insights into critical political issues in this election year, and mapping of brain cells that signal either positive or negative experiences. President Obama paid us a second visit, choosing Stanford to host the White House’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which drew delegates from around the world who share a common spirit of innovation. And I trust I can speak for all of us in saying how extraordinarily uplifted we have been by the 39 Stanford-affiliated athletes who competed and excelled in the Summer Olympics, winning a school-record 27 medals and exemplifying the dedication and spirit of all of our student-athletes.

Stanford’s impact is truly inspiring, and I can’t wait to support you in all that you will do next.

Sadly, within the United States and abroad, this summer has also presented us with tremendous challenges and heartbreak, reflecting deep divisiveness and horrific violence that has shattered many lives. We must continue to ask ourselves how we can each make a difference in advancing justice, peace and understanding around the world and on our campus. Stanford continues to make significant progress toward inclusion and we can take comfort in being members of a community that will not tolerate discrimination or violence in any form, including sexual violence. But there is still more to be done. I am confident we will dedicate ourselves to this mission with the same strength and determination we bring to all our endeavors. In this, as in all we undertake, Stanford must be a leader.

While we face challenges, there is also much to celebrate. Within a few weeks, we will welcome over 1,700 new undergraduate and transfer students, more than 2,600 new graduate students, hundreds of postdoctoral fellows and dozens of new faculty and staff members, who all bring fresh energy and perspectives to the campus. I look forward to joining them in their initial Stanford exploration. We will mark the 125th anniversary of this great university in Autumn Quarter during Reunion Homecoming. That same weekend, on Friday, October 21, I look forward to addressing you at my inauguration.

My first order of business is to engage broadly within our community to hear your ideas about the future of our university. I also will be working to appoint a new provost. Provost John Etchemendy has graciously agreed to stay on to assist in the transition and will be here with me through the fall and into the next calendar year, when a new provost will join me. Provost Etchemendy and President John Hennessy have both been a tremendous help to me these past months and I am grateful to them for their ongoing time commitment and wise counsel.

As I plan to learn from all of you, I hope you will also take time to continue to learn from each other. As we all know, education within a university isn’t just about what happens in the classroom. Our entire community benefits from our diverse life experiences, which enrich both our life on campus and our ability to contribute to the world beyond Stanford. This is the ideal place to share and discuss ideas and perspectives that may be different from our own, in mutual understanding and respect.

I am filled with optimism about the strength of our community, the trajectory of our university and the opportunity we have to magnify our impact on the world. You will hear more from me before long, and I hope to see you around campus—in your residences, offices and laboratories, at performances, presentations and other gatherings … and while cheering on our student-athletes!

Marc Tessier-Lavigne