Dear Stanford students,
I hope you are enjoying summer with a good balance of rest and inspiration.
Since Commencement, I have enjoyed spending some precious time with my family and loved ones. I’ve also been intensively studying Stanford’s undergraduate residential experience and exploring ways to develop the best vision for the future.
To fill you in, during spring quarter, Provost Persis Drell convened a task force called ResX to develop a comprehensive vision for the undergraduate residential experience. Your experience in the dorms is an integral part of your Stanford education, and we want your residences to be thriving learning communities that foster a firm and abiding sense of belonging.
The ResX Task Force, one of the first initiatives to evolve out of the university’s Long-Range Planning (LRP) process, is made up of faculty, alumni and students. Harry J. Elam Jr., vice provost for undergraduate education, and I are its co-chairs.
You will find the goals of the task force and a full list of its members here.
Through the LRP process, students submitted proposals asking us to rethink the way our undergraduate housing system works. Many of you described significant challenges you faced with the draw, the scattering of friendships, the disparity in types of rooms and houses available and challenges in our current student staffing models. These are critical issues for us, as a university, to address. Developing the skills and capacities to live in and contribute as citizens of a complex world is at the core of an undergraduate residential experience at Stanford.
There have been and will be multiple opportunities for more student input into the ResX process. When the task force launched at the end of spring quarter, we put a call out to all current and incoming student residential staff members and asked them to share their thoughts and ideas with us. We then held discussion groups to begin to gather those thoughts.
Later this summer, we will hold a series of town hall meetings — some virtual, others on campus — that are designed to provide you with more opportunities to share your thoughts and ideas. Please save the dates and times below for the virtual sessions, and we will update you on the logistics:
You also can share your feedback by sending your thoughts directly to Jennifer Calvert, assistant vice provost for strategy and assessment, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, when you return to campus, we will continue to reach out to you and student staff members to hear your thoughts and share our thinking.
In addition to gathering information from Stanford constituents, the task force has also researched the residential models of our peer institutions. In June, we visited Harvard, Dartmouth and Yale. It was exciting to learn about their approaches to residential life.
Dartmouth has just gone through a substantial re-envisioning of its undergraduate residential system. It was incredibly helpful to learn about how they managed that process and the lessons they learned. Harvard and Yale have undertaken, in different ways, large-scale renovation and building projects to update their undergraduate residences. They offered us much to think about in terms of how buildings can be designed to advance our students’ sense of belonging; how students are assigned and the kind of staffing structures that support student well-being. While we do not look to replicate the residential systems of other institutions, we found their insights highly valuable.
The information we gathered on these site visits will complement the feedback we continue to seek from you. Your thoughts and ideas are very important to us, and we hope to “see” you during our town hall meetings this summer. Please take every opportunity to participate in and communicate through this process.
I wish you a safe and happy summer and look forward to our continued work together.
Susie Brubaker-Cole, PhD
Vice Provost for Student Affairs
459 Lagunita Drive, Suite 6
Stanford, CA 94305-3072