Welcome to parents from President Marc Tessier-Lavigne

September 2016

Dear Stanford Parent:

Welcome to a new year at Stanford!

Marc Tessier-Lavigne
Marc Tessier-Lavigne

As many of you know, this is my first year as president of Stanford, and I am thrilled to be joining the Stanford community! I am humbled and honored to take over from President John Hennessy. You may be interested to know that I am also a new Stanford parent. My daughter is an incoming first-year student, so I look forward to sharing the Stanford parent experience with you.

As is a tradition at the start of a new academic year, as Stanford’s new president I am writing to inform you of a few new additions here on campus for our students.

Students coming to campus this fall will arrive to several newly completed buildings, including two residence halls—Meier and Norcliffe halls—ready for occupancy in the Lagunita Court complex on the west side of campus. Both are four-class residences, housing a total of 218 students.

This fall, we also will be dedicating the new Science Teaching and Learning Center, which has been created through a renovation of the historic Old Chemistry Building off the Oval. It will house teaching laboratories, a science library and classrooms with collaborative study spaces. The first classes will be held there in winter quarter. This new facility will help create a sense of community among our undergraduate students in the Biology and Chemistry departments.

This year, we will also reopen the historic Roble Gym on Santa Teresa Street to provide new program spaces for theater and dance productions of the Department of Theater and Performance Studies. A new black box theater and renovated dance studio will allow for such autumn quarter presentations as State of Darkness, with renowned choreographer Molissa Fenley, and the musical Spring Awakening.

Also, this October, Stanford’s celebration of its 125th year will culminate during Reunion Homecoming on October 21 and 22. I hope you have had the opportunity to visit the 125th anniversary webpages or attend one of the many events we continue to hold to celebrate the university’s people, history and accomplishments. My inauguration will be Friday of Reunion Homecoming—October 21—and you will be able to follow my remarks through a live webcast.

At our October 8 Cardinal Football game, we will have the opportunity to recognize the many Cardinal athletes who competed in the Rio Summer Olympics. Perhaps many of you were watching—as my family was—the 39 current, former and future Stanford athletes who won a school-record 27 medals during the competitions, including 14 gold. These performances, the result of years of dedication and hard work, were truly awe-inspiring and underscore our commitment to the scholar-athlete.

You may also be aware that Stanford has introduced an updated student alcohol policy that prohibits high-volume distilled liquor containers for all undergraduate and coterminal students living in undergraduate housing. Our intent is to increase safety on campus, particularly to curb high-risk drinking, by reducing the availability of hard alcohol. As Greg Boardman, vice provost for student affairs, said in a letter to your children this summer, “We must create a campus community that allows for alcohol to be a part of the social lives of some of our students, but not to define the social and communal lives of all of our students.” Parents can be important allies in our efforts to educate students about the dangers of excessive consumption of alcohol, and we hope we can count on your support. Stanford does not tolerate reckless drinking—lawful or unlawful—and its consequential harmful behaviors. We provide educational resources to assure that students understand the effects of alcohol misuse and how to respond when they see others engaged in dangerous behavior.

Continuing parents will remember that the university has focused considerable resources during the past several years on the prevention of sexual violence, including an additional $2.7 million beginning this year for more counseling and support resources. This summer, we created a new senior position to coordinate all of the university’s programs promoting equity and access. We are committed to promoting a culture of genuine respect in which sexual harassment, misconduct and assault have no place. We also look to foster an inclusive environment where everyone can share and discuss ideas, in mutual understanding and respect. You will continue to hear of our progress through the year.

Stanford supports its students in myriad ways. Perhaps nowhere is that more evident than in our commitment to financial aid. In 2016 we expanded our financial aid program to further ensure accessibility to outstanding students regardless of their financial circumstances. The availability of financial aid is an issue of personal importance to me. So please rest assured that Stanford remains unwavering in its commitment to ensuring that a Stanford education is within reach of any student talented enough to earn admission.

You are an essential partner in your child’s education. To assist you, 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. You will receive Stanford magazine throughout your child’s years at Stanford. And we invite you to follow university news on Twitter and Facebook.

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

I wish your son or daughter great success in the year ahead, and I hope to see you during Parents’ Weekend on February 24 and 25, 2017.


Marc Tessier-Lavigne