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Faculty Senate discusses football, grad education

The Faculty Senate heard a report on graduate studies at its Thursday meeting, in a session notable primarily — at little more than 15 minutes in duration — for its unusual brevity.

Senate Chair Raymond Levitt, professor of civil and environmental engineering, opened the meeting by congratulating Margaret Hayden ’13 and Rachel Kolb ’12 M.A. ’13 on their recent selection as Rhodes Scholars. Levitt also applauded Stanford football head coach David Shaw on his selection as 2012 Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the second year running and praised the Stanford football team’s selection for the 2012 Rose Bowl as Pac-12 champions.

University President John Hennessy echoed Levitt’s praise and drew attention to the football program’s academic accomplishments, noting that Stanford was one of only two collegiate teams with a perfect graduation rate for the 2005-06 incoming freshman class.

While the overall trend of academic accomplishment remains strong, however, Hennessy acknowledged the presence of a disparity in graduation rates between African-American student-athletes and their student-athlete peers at Stanford. According to a University of Pennsylvania study, such disparities affect 96.1 percent of schools in the NCAA’s six major conferences.

“We are aware of it,” Hennessy said. “We’ve been working on exploring what the issues are and trying to address them.”

The Senate then heard the annual report of the Committee on Graduate Studies (C-GS), which was delivered by C-GS chair Eamonn Callan.

Callan cited C-GS’s work during what he called an “exceptionally busy year,” primarily spent conducting standard reviews of certain graduate interdisciplinary programs and revising doctoral reading committee membership qualifications to include emeritus faculty.

“[That was] maybe the least controversial report this year,” Levitt noted.

Limited faculty discussion focused on the University’s current policy regarding the potential inclusion of outside experts — including those possibly lacking advanced degrees — on reading committees. According to Vice Provost of Graduate Education Patricia Gumport M.A. ’82 M.A. ’86 Ph.D. ’87, such exceptions are currently considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Senate will hear reports on faculty gains and losses and on classroom scheduling when it reconvenes on Jan. 24.

About Marshall Watkins

Marshall Watkins is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily, having previously worked as the paper's executive editor and as the managing editor of news. Marshall is a junior from London majoring in Economics, and can be reached at mtwatkins "at" stanford "dot" edu.