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The Faculty Senate Turning Fifty

The Stanford Faculty Senate will celebrate its fiftieth birthday in 2018.  Its creation was a response to the turmoil at Stanford and other universities engendered by the political unrest of the 1960s.  Before the founding of the Faculty Senate, Stanford's Academic Council (the body consisting of all tenured and tenure-line faculty) met once a quarter, and a nine-member Executive Committee handled faculty governance in between.  But the full Academic Council was too large a body to serve as a forum for debate, and the Executive Committee was too small to represent the range of opinions on the controversial issues of the day. 

 

 

 

Central to the issues that divided the campus in the latter half of the 1960s was the Vietnam war.  Opposition to the war by students and faculty focused on several aspects of University life.  These included Stanford's ROTC programs, classified research conducted on campus, and interviews on campus by the CIA.  As the war escalated, opposition to all of these practices grew.  With the military draft looming over male students in poor academic standing, the question of providing the Selective Service System with student academic information also became a hot topic.

 

 

 

 

 

The person most responsible for the founding of the Faculty Senate was the late Professor of Law Herbert Packer, a member of the Executive Committee.  He introduced the idea of a faculty senate and drafted the Senate's Charter.  From the beginning, the Faculty Senate was envisioned as serving two functions.  First, it has authority over major curricular issues, such as the creation of new degree programs and any university-wide educational requirements.  Second, it is a forum in which the University's top administrators can exchange information with representatives of the faculty.  This allows the faculty to question the administration about policies, while giving the administration the opportunity to solicit faculty input on policy questions.

 

The fiftieth anniversary of the Faculty Senate will be celebrated in several ways, including the following: 

  • On April 19, 2018, the Stanford Historical Society will hold a symposium reflecting on the first fifty years of the Senate, featuring former Stanford President Gerhard Casper, former Academic Secretary Susan W. Schofield, and Professor of History, emeritus, Peter Stansky. 
  • At this event, a book entitled The Stanford Senate of the Academic Council:  Reflections on Fifty Years of Faculty Governance, 1968 - 2018 will be available.  This volume, written, compiled, and edited by Peter Stansky, Ethan W. Ris, Susan W. Schofield, and Hans N. Weiler, will also contain photographs and brief pieces by most of the past Faculty Senate Chairs, reflecting on their year as Senate Chair.

A second symposium will be held on May 17, as part of the annual meeting of the Academic Council.  The focus of this symposium will be will be the future of faculty governance in higher education and the challenges it faces in a time of shifting demographic, economic, and political environments.  The speakers will be Jonathan Jansen, Distinguished Professor in the Faculty of Education at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State; Nannerl Keohane, Professor in Social Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and former President of Wellesley College and Duke University.  She also served as Chair of the Stanford Faculty Senate; and Hans N. Weiler, Professor emeritus of Education and Political Science and former Academic Secretary at Stanford, and former Rektor of Viadrina European University in Germany.


Welcoming a new Academic Secretary 

52 years after joining the Stanford faculty as an Assistant Professor in 1965, Hans Weiler is retiring from the position of Academic Secretary to the University, which he has held for the last three years, and will return to the ranks of Stanford’s emeriti. On September 1, he will be succeeded by Thomas (“Tom”) Wasow. Thomas Wasow is a Professor emeritus of Linguistics and Philosophy.  He received his B.A. in mathematics from Reed College and his Ph.D. in Linguistics from MIT.  He joined the Stanford faculty in 1973, and has served as Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Associate Dean of Humanities and Sciences, Associate Dean for Graduate Policy, and Chair of the Faculty Senate.  He was a founder of the Symbolic Systems Program, and served as its Director for 13 years.  He is a Bass Fellow in Undergraduate Education and recipient of the Dinkelspiel Award for service to undergraduate education and the Rhodes Prize for undergraduate teaching.  He is a Fellow of the Linguistic Society of America.


50th Senate elects Chair and Vice Chair

The members of Stanford’s 50th Senate have elected Elizabeth (“Liz”) Hadly, the Paul S. and Billie Achilles Professor in Environmental Biology, as its Chair for the Senate’s 2017-18 anniversary year, and Michele Elam, Professor of English and Director of the interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Modern Thought and Literature, as the Senate’s Vice Chair.  Their one-year term of office will begin with the Fall Quarter of 2017.

Elizabeth Hadly is a global change scientist who studies the impact of environmental change on vertebrates of the past, present, and future. Liz is committed to the communication of science and outreach beyond the ivory tower. She was the Senior Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education from 2013-2016. She is the Paul S. and Billie Achilles Professor in Environmental Biology, and Professor, by courtesy, of Geological Sciences; the Mr. and Mrs. Frank W. Yeung Bass University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, and a Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute and at the Center for Innovation in Global Health. She is the Faculty Director of Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve and on the Executive Committee of the Program for conservation Genomics. She has taught in Chile through BOSP and been a faculty leader on numerous Stanford travel-study trips. Prior to coming to Stanford Liz worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US National Park Service. Liz has served on the Senate, Steering Committee and Committee on Committees, and was a member of the most recent Planning and Policy Board.

Michele Elam, the Olivier Nomellini Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, is Professor of English and Director of the interdisciplinary graduate Program in Modern Thought and Literature. Affiliated with the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research and the Center for Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity, Elam has served as Director of the Program in African & African American Studies, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Director of Curriculum in the Department of English in addition to her leadership on national committees and boards. Among her publications are Race, Work, and Desire in American Literature, 1860-1930 (2003), The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millennium (2011), and The Cambridge Companion to James Baldwin (2015). Most broadly, her research and teaching examine the relations between art, race and social justice. Elam is thrice the recipient of the St Clair Drake Outstanding Teaching Award and of the Faculty Award for “Outstanding Service to Undergraduate Students as a Teacher, Advisor and Mentor” from the Program in Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity, and the recipient of large grant awards for broad-impact curricular innovation from both the President’s Fund and the Hoagland Fund for Teaching Innovation. She has served on the Faculty Senate, the Senate Steering Committee, the Committee on Committees, the Committee for the Review of Undergraduate Majors (C-RUM) and chaired the SUES subcommittee on the Helix. She currently serves on the Board on Judicial Affairs, the Steering Committee of the Faculty Women’s Forum, and the Title IX Hearing Panels.


The Faculty Senate in 2016-17: Senate Chair Satz reports to the Academic Council

At the Annual Meeting of the Academic Council (the body that comprises all of Stanford’s regular faculty) on May 11, 2017, Senate Chair Debra Satz delivered the annual report on the activities and deliberations of the Faculty Senate during the last twelve months. In her report, she underlined the importance of faculty governance in helping to shape the university’s course of action and singled out three areas that had been of special concern to the Senate: diversity and inclusion; student well-being; and teaching and curriculum.


The Steering Committee of the 50th Senate

The members of the 50th Senate have elected their Steering Committee for the academic year 2017-18; it is composed of the following faculty:
  • Elizabeth Hadly (Biology)Chair
  • Michele Elam (English), Vice Chair
  • Patricia Burchat (Physics)
  • Jeff Koseff (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
  • Joseph Lipsick (Pathology/Genetics)
  • Kate Maher (Geological Sciences)
  • Susan McConnell (Biology)
  • Rob Reich (Political Science)
Provost Drell and the Academic Secretary serve as ex-officio members of the Steering Committee.
 
The Steering Committee is responsible for preparing the agenda and setting the priorities for the Senate’s deliberations and for following up on the Senate’s actions. During the academic year, it meets every other week.

 


50th Senate appoints its Committee on Committees

The Steering Committee of the 50th Senate, in one of its first official actions, has appointed the Senate’s Committee on Committees (CoC) for 2017-18. The CoC plays an important role in faculty governance in appointing the chairs and members of the Standing Committees of the Academic Council and in nominating faculty members for a wide variety of committees of the Board of Trustees, the President and the Provost as well as ad hoc committees for special purposes. Over the past several months, the 49th CoC has nominated faculty for the four Panels of the university’s Long-Range Planning exercise, for two Dean’s search committees and for the new Residential Programs Faculty Board. The 50th Committee on Committees will be chaired by Professor Ralph Cohen (Mathematics); its members are Professors Sarah Billington (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Thomas Kenny (Mechanical Engineering), Paula Moya (English), David Spiegel (Medicine), Steve Stedman (Freeman Spogli Institute), and Guadalupe Valdes (Education).


Welcoming the 50th Senate for 2017-18

28 newly elected (or re-elected) Senators will join the 28 veteran members of the 49th Senate this fall to form the 50th Senate of the Academic Council for the academic year 2017-18; the Roster of the 50th Senate (requires SUNet login to access) is now available. The Senate, whose members are elected by their peers in the Academic Council in 13 electoral units, represents the faculty’s responsibility for, and oversight of, the university’s academic life in teaching and research. It is presided over by an elected Chair of the Senate who, together with an elected Steering Committee, sets the Senate’s priorities, prepares its agenda and follows up on its decisions and recommendations. The Senate’s work is supported by the Office of the Academic Secretary to the University. The members of the Senate are joined by 15 ex officio members who include the university’s President and Provost, several Vice Provosts and the Deans of the Schools. The Senate’s decisions on academic policy are prepared by the seven Standing Committees of the Academic Council and by occasional in-depth analyses of the Senate’s Planning and Policy Board (PPB). All faculty appointments to the Senate’s and the Academic Council’s committees, as well as recommendations of faculty for university and Trustees’ committees, are in the hands of the Senate’s Committee on Committees (CoC). The members of the 50th Senate are about to be invited to vote for their Chair and Steering Committee.

 

Faculty Senate Joins Opposition to Travel Restrictions

At its meeting on February 9, 2017, the 49th Senate of the Academic Council unanimously adopted a Resolution joining the university-wide and nation-wide opposition to President Trump’s Executive Order restricting entry to the United States for citizens from several predominantly Muslim countries as well as refugees.  The Senate commends the strong position taken on this issue by the University leadership, and  “will do everything in its power to protect all members of our community who are vulnerable to these measures and will remain vigilant about future actions that threaten our educational mission and core values.” The full text of the Resolution can be read here.

PPB reported to Senate on students’ choice of curricula and major

At the January 26 Senate meeting, the Senate’s Planning and Policy Board submitted the findings of its year-long study of students’ curricular choices and their selection of majors. Chaired by Professor Russell Berman (Comparative Literature), the Board gathered and analyzed a rich body of data on how students’ choices emerge and what factors play a role in the process. The Board concluded its report with an emphatic endorsement of a liberal arts education for all students, regardless of major, and recommended a number of steps to advance this goal. The full text of the report, with its data attachments, can be found here.

Chair of the 49th Faculty Senate


Debra Satz, the Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society, is the senior associate dean for the humanities and arts. A philosophy professor with a courtesy appointment in political science, she earned her bachelor’s degree from City College of New York and her doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on the ethical limits of markets, the nature of equality, theories of rational choice, and ethics and education. In 2004, Satz received the Walter J. Gores Award, Stanford’s highest teaching honor. Among her publications are Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets (Oxford University Press, 2010); (co-ed.) Occupy the Future (MIT Press, 2012); and Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy and Public Policy(forthcoming, Cambridge, 2016) (with Dan Hausman and Michael McPherson.) 

The 49th Senate’s Vice Chair is Julie Parsonnet, the George DeForest Barnett Professor of Medicine, who holds a joint appointment in the Departments of Medicine (Infectious Diseases) and Health Research and Policy (Epidemiology).  She has served as the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education, and is a Resident Fellow in Robinson House. 

Steering Committee of the 49th Senate 

The members of the 49th Senate have elected the following Steering Committee for 2016-17:

Debra Satz, Chair (Philosophy); Julie Parsonnet, Vice Chair (Medicine/Infectious Diseases); Stacey Bent (Chemical Engineering); Patricia Burchat (Physics); Margot Gerritsen (Energy Resources Engineering); Bernadette Meyler (Law); Ross Shachter (Management Science and Engineering); Stephen Stedman (Freeman Spogli Institute); John Etchemendy (Provost, ex-officio); Hans Weiler (Academic Secretary, ex-officio); Adrienne Emory (Assistant Academic Secretary, Staff). 

The Steering Committee is responsible for preparing the meetings and the agenda of the Senate and for following up on the Senate’s decisions. It meets every other week during the academic year at 11:45 am on Tuesdays.

Faculty Senate passes resolution reaffirming inclusiveness

At its meeting on November 11, the Senate of the Academic Council passed the following resolution: “Be it resolved that, in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 Presidential election, the Senate of the Academic Council of Stanford University reaffirms its commitment to an open and inclusive community that embraces all members, irrespective of race, ethnicity, age, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, citizenship, abilities and political views, and that celebrates and learns from diversity. Our nation and the world face extraordinary challenges; we should all be engaged in understanding and addressing these challenges and making a difference in meeting them. As faculty, our most important responsibility is to provide a broad and purposeful education that serves this end.”

Senate passes resolution on coping with Stanford’s housing crisis

At its last meeting of the academic year, the 48th Senate of the Academic Council heard a report from the Senate’s Planning and Policy Board (PPB) and its Chair, Professor Russell Berman, on the challenges Stanford faces in securing housing for its faculty, graduate students, postdocs, and staff, and unanimously passed a Resolution thanking the university for its achievements in dealing with the challenge and encouraging continued further efforts in order to sustain Stanford’s ability to recruit outstanding professional talent.

Senate Chair presents annual report to the Academic Council

At the May 12, 2016, meeting of the Academic Council, Professor Kathryn Ann Moler, Chair of the 48th Faculty Senate, presented her report on the Senate’s activities dring the past year and on the importance of academic governance in the life of the university. 

Senate unanimously approves Resolution on the assessment and prevention of sexual violence on campus

At its meeting on April 28, the 48th Senate, after an extensive debate, unanimously approved a resolution confirming the value of the data collected in Stanford’s Campus Climate Survey of 2015 and supporting a range of measures for the prevention of sexual violence on campus and the further development of educational programs on sexual and relationship violence. The text of the Resolution, which was submitted by the Senate’s Steering Committee, can be found here .

The 49th Senate elects Chair and Vice Chair for 2016-17

The members of the 49th Senate have elected Debra Satz (Philosophy) as Senate Chair, and Julie Parsonnet (Medicine) as Vice Chair for the academic year 2016-17.

Debra Satz, the Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society, is the senior associate dean for the humanities and arts. A philosophy professor with a courtesy appointment in political science, she earned her bachelor’s degree from City College of New York and her doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 2008-2014 she served as faculty director of the Bowen McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society. Her research focuses on the ethical limits of markets, the nature of equality, theories of rational choice, and ethics and education. In 2004, Satz received the Walter J. Gores Award, Stanford’s highest teaching honor. She co-founded the Hope House Scholars Program through which Stanford faculty teach liberal arts courses to residents of a drug and alcohol treatment facility. She received the Roland Prize in 2010 for faculty service for this program. Among her publications are Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets (Oxford University Press, 2010); (co-ed.) Occupy the Future (MIT Press, 2012); and Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy and Public Policy (forthcoming, Cambridge, 2016) (with Dan Hausman and Michael McPherson.) She has served as a Senate member for several terms and has been a member of the Steering Committee and the Committee on Committees.

Julie Parsonnet is the George DeForest Barnett Professor of Medicine, and holds a joint appointment in the Departments of Medicine (Infectious Diseases) and Health Research and Policy (Epidemiology).  She has served as the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education, and is a Resident Fellow in Robinson House. 

A present for John Hennessy from the Faculty Senate

Concluding her annual report to the Academic Council on May 12, the Chair of the 48th Faculty Senate, Professor Kathryn Ann Moler (Applied Physics) surprised President Hennessy with a special present from the Senate: A souvenir book with personal recollections of the seventeen Senate Chairs and three Academic Secretaries who served during Hennessy’s tenure as president between 2000 and 2016, recounting their favorite memories of working and debating with the President in the Senate. A .pdf copy of the book, which provides a unique perspective on Stanford’s recent academic history, is available here.