By Kylie Jue
At last Thursday’s Faculty Senate meeting, Provost John Etchemendy announced the formation of a new Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning. Director of athletics, physical education and recreation Bernard Muir also gave a presentation on issues currently facing college athletics.
The Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning
In the coming months, Stanford will work on creating the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, which will serve as a central place for resources for learning, teaching, innovating in the classroom and interacting with students online.
A task force of four senior leaders prompted the creation of the office after surveying currently available resources for teaching, learning and using instructional technologies on campus. The group included the vice provost of undergraduate education Harry Elam Jr., vice provost for graduate education Patricia Gumport, University Librarian Michael Keller, and vice provost for faculty development and diversity Karen Cook.
John Mitchell, vice provost for online learning and a professor of computer science, will lead the new office and spoke about its three main goals: encouraging innovation in teaching and learning, using technology to increase the accessibility of Stanford research and scholarship, and supporting extended educational programs such as the Stanford University Online High School and the Stanford Center for Professional Development.
The new office will combine four already existing organizations on campus: the Center for Teaching and Learning, parts of Academic Computing Services, the CourseWork engineering team and the Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning.
“We’re already working together in many, many ways, so this organizational change simplifies things we’re already doing,” Mitchell said.
The rising costs and competition in college athletics
Muir addressed the senate about concerns facing college athletics, in particular the growing competition and costs of collegiate football.
Muir, who sits on an intercollegiate subcommittee that studies football recruiting, explained that some members of the committee believe that high school student athletes should commit to colleges before their senior year.
In addition, student athletes have filed more than 10 lawsuits nationally over the last year with the goals of increasing the compensation and benefits they receive from colleges. According to Muir, these changes would put athletes on the same level as University employees and would undermine the amateur aspect of college athletics, particularly if athletic scholarships were considered as compensation.
Muir also spoke about the situation in which athletes were able to negotiate for compensation packages and perks like professional athletes. He explained that if this became the case, Stanford would likely withdraw from competition, and many other institutions would not even be able to afford to compete.
According to Muir, the Pac-12 Conference has already adopted several measures to support student-athletes, including providing lifetime scholarships to those who leave school before graduating and later want to return and allowing schools to spend unlimited funds on their athletes’ meals.
However, the reforms have also reflected the increasing competition and costs within athletic programs. Muir learned that some universities spend as much as $1.5 million on student-athlete meals alone. Stanford has invested $250,000 in the area.
“Now I’m not sure what they’re feeding them,” Muir said. “It could be steak and lobster. But now there’s an arms race in meals.”
Muir also spoke about the increasing issue of concussions and explained that Stanford Athletics is working with Stanford Medicine to study concussions and preventative measures among different athletes.
His presentation included a showing of “It’s on Us,” a video of Stanford student-athletes discussing sexual assault on campus, and senators were provided with copies of “Game Changer,” an Stanford magazine article on the future of the University’s athletic program.