Stanford’s Family Weekend theme: Wherever you are, you are family

Claire family
In between classes and work, Sahej Claire, ’22, (left-center) and her family take quick hikes to get some fresh air in beautiful South Lake Tahoe. (Image credit: Courtesy of the Claire family)

Like many gatherings during the pandemic, the annual Stanford Family Weekend in late February will be a virtual experience – a livestream town hall, webinar meetings, a photo montage of families with their students and Zoom visits to community centers.

Since families are unable to visit the campus in person this year, Stanford is inviting them to participate in three afternoons of online activities – Feb. 24-26 – that will culminate in a two-hour program on Feb. 27 featuring a conversation with President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell, followed by Conversations for Families by Class Year.

The conversation with the president and provost – a town hall style meeting that will include time for questions and answers – will take place from 10 to 11 a.m. The conversations with families by class year – webinar panel discussions moderated by senior university administrators – will be held from 11 a.m. to noon.

In a letter inviting Stanford families and friends of undergraduate students to attend the virtual Family Weekend, Tessier-Lavigne wrote: “While we can’t be together in person this year, we hope that you find it meaningful to gather virtually to reconnect and learn more about your student’s Stanford experience during this unusual year.”

In keeping with this year’s theme, wherever you are, you are family, Stanford is inviting families and friends to share photos of life with their students, a montage of which will be shared during the Saturday morning livestreamed event. Guidelines for submitting photos are provided here.

During the three afternoons preceding the Feb. 27 event, the university is hosting a variety of programs, including panel discussions focused on topics of special interest to Stanford families: academic advising; student pathways to meaningful work; and the university’s new approach to supporting the well-being and mental health of students.

On Friday morning, Debra Satz, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, will moderate a panel, “Careers for Humanities and Arts Majors.”

The panelists include two alumni – Alexander Berger, ’11, a philosophy major who is now the managing director at the Open Philanthropy Project, and Rachel Hamburg, ’10, an English major who is now a senior producer at Audible, Inc. Margo Gilliland, assistant dean of career education and associate director of communities at BEAM, Stanford Career Education, will also serve as a panelist.

The university is also inviting families and friends to “go back to class” by attending lectures – followed by Q&As – presented by members of Stanford’s award-winning faculty during Family Weekend.

Among the lectures scheduled this year:

  • Recognizing and Responding to Racism: Examples from Criminal Justice, by Matthew Clair, assistant professor of sociology.
  • Finding Hope Amid Difficulty: Spiritual Resources for Resilience, by Tiffany Steinwert, dean for Religious and Spiritual Life.
  • Climate Change Solutions: Shifting to High Gear, by Chris Field, the Perry L. McCarty Director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, and the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies.

To introduce families and friends to the university’s eight community and cultural centers, Stanford has posted detailed information on the centers on the Family Weekend website here. Some of the centers are developing live programs for visiting family and friends, and more information will be available in the coming weeks.

On the website created for this year’s event, Stanford is encouraging families and friends to explore the campus from home – or wherever they may be – through Virtual Tours and Experiences, including a student narrated 360-degree tour of the Farm, a slide show of the Science and Engineering Quad and interactive art exhibitions at the Anderson Collection.

Additional exploration pages and information, including student performances and projects, will be added to the Family Weekend website as details are confirmed.