Faculty Senate hears reports from Hoover Institution and Graduate School of Business

Presentations spark discussion of Hoover’s alignment with Stanford and the evolution of the Graduate School of Business.

Thomas Gilligan, director of the Hoover Institution, addressing the Faculty Senate on Thursday. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

At the Faculty Senate meeting on Thursday, two university leaders gave status reports and reflected on the relationship of their programs with the broader campus community, sparking lively discussion among senate members.

In his presentation, Thomas Gilligan, director of the Hoover Institution , highlighted the institution’s strengths as a policy research center and archive, its engagement with the university and its aspirations for the future.

Also at the meeting, Jonathan Levin, dean of Stanford Graduate School of Business , presented a current snapshot of the school, focusing on research, education, global impact and efforts to increase diversity and inclusion.

Hoover Institution

Providing the senate with an overview of activities at the Hoover Institution, Gilligan introduced his report by remarking on Hoover’s 100-year history and its current charter and guiding principles. The institution is dedicated to maintaining and making available its extensive archives on political, social and economic change and generating policy ideas to promote economic prosperity, national security and democratic governance, he said.

The Hoover Fellows program currently consists of 66 senior fellows, 45 research fellows and 80 visiting fellows, who represent a wide range of disciplinary expertise from national security, health care and education policy to economic development and democracy. Noting the low number of women (8 percent) and underrepresented minorities (19 percent) among the fellows, Gilligan spoke about a new effort to increase diversity that includes a broad outreach strategy for recruitment to expand the pipeline of potential fellows.

The Hoover Institution is part of the university with its own governance structure, consisting of a board of trustees and a board of overseers, and it engages with the university in a number of ways, said Gilligan. All joint senior fellows teach classes, and many research fellows lecture regularly to Stanford students. Nearly 20 percent of the registered users of the library and archives are Stanford affiliates, and leadership forums and dozens of other events hosted by Hoover each year are broadly attended by the Stanford community, he said.

Gilligan laid out Hoover’s goals for the future, which include strengthening its fellowship program, making investments in digitizing its archives, expanding its public programming by hosting more conferences and other events, building partnerships to reach new audiences and deepening the relationship with the university by offering more opportunities for student and faculty involvement.

Hoover also plans to expand its facilities with the construction of the George P. Shultz Building, which is making its way through Stanford’s building approval process. Part of a long-range master plan to reinvigorate Hoover’s existing facilities, the project is envisioned as a four-story, 58,000-square-foot structure to replace the existing Lou Henry Hoover Building.

Some of the discussion that followed the presentation centered around whether Hoover’s charter aligns with the university’s mission. David Palumbo-Liu, professor of comparative literature, read a statement that had been signed by a dozen senior members of the faculty, asserting the belief that Hoover’s mission to produce knowledge with a "pre-determined point-of-view" was "antithetical to the spirit of open inquiry that is fundamental to liberal education." Palumbo-Liu hoped that the Faculty Senate discussion would bring more clarity to the role of the Hoover Institution at Stanford.

In response, Gilligan said the senior fellows exercise their duties of discovery with a great deal of freedom and play an indispensable role in the intellectual life of the university by providing a broad range of opinions. Provost Persis Drell said she viewed Hoover as an asset, citing its many contributions to the university and to the country, including policy contributions in areas ranging from arms control to climate change, as well as contributing to the intellectual breadth and diversity of the Stanford community overall.

Other faculty members suggested that Hoover review the language in its charter to better reflect its mission and values.

Graduate School of Business

In his presentation, Levin said that one of the key issues for the Graduate School of Business (GSB) is the change that has been taking place in social science and management research. Calling them "twin revolutions," Levin explained that increased availability of data on organizations, markets and people is opening up new research areas and faculty are increasingly eager to translate their research into practice in order to have immediate impact.

"Those changes are causing a set of organizational changes in the way research is structured at the school - larger teams, bigger datasets and more desire and need to partner with outside organizations," he said. The school is making strategic investments to accommodate these changes. "We will really need to get this right over the next five to 10 years. To attract the next generation of faculty, we have to be the best business school in the world in this area," he said.

In fulfilling its educational mission for its flagship MBA and MSx programs, the school is putting a particular focus on data literacy and use of technology, innovative teaching methods and social responsibility.

Enhancing diversity and inclusion has been, and will continue to be, a key priority for the school, said Levin.  He noted the increasing diversity of its current MBA class of 420 students, of which 40 percent are international, 25 percent are domestic minority and 40 percent are female. He outlined several GSB initiatives to foster diversity and inclusion, including programs to provide support for diverse GSB alumni, who he said tend to run into more hurdles in their careers.

"Look at any set of pictures of corporate executives, leading investors, corporate boards. That set of pictures will look nothing like the set of students that walk in the business school the first day of the MBA program," Levin said. The GSB’s "distinctive opportunity" is to start to change those pictures.

Levin said that the GSB has increased its global reach and impact in recent years. The MBA program requires every student to have a global experience such as a study trip, seminar or internship. The school also has greatly expanded its professional education offerings, allowing faculty to reach global audiences. Levin then described the Stanford Seed program , which is an institute housed at the GSB that aims to educate entrepreneurial business leaders in the developing world so they can help create economic growth and prosperity in their own communities.

Levin concluded his remarks by noting the increased collaboration with the university, including involvement in some of the long-range vision initiatives such as Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, Data Science and the Social Problem-Solving Accelerator. He said he would like to see more integration and collaboration across the university, for example, in the areas of teaching, research, course development, student interactions and internships at Seed.

In response to a question about an earlier perception that GSB students were primarily interested in financial success, Levin described how the school had evolved in the last two decades to offer a transformative educational experience that focuses on both academic knowledge and personal development. "Students don’t come to the business school to become masters of the universe, they come to be leaders who can effect change in the world," he said.

Report from the provost

In her report to the Faculty Senate, Provost Persis Drell drew attention to the recent announcement of the appointment of Jenny Martinez as the new dean of Stanford Law School. Martinez, a scholar of international law and constitutional law who has been a member of the Stanford faculty for more than 15 years, will assume the position April 1. Drell also acknowledged the outstanding work of outgoing Dean M. Elizabeth Magill.

The full minutes of the Feb. 7 meeting, including the discussion that followed the presentations, will be posted on the  Faculty Senate website.  The next senate meeting is scheduled for Feb. 21.