On Thursday, April 13, the Faculty Senate convened for the first time this quarter to discuss Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne’s response to President Trump’s Presidential Budget Request (PBR), which may reduce University research funding. The Senate also heard a report from Bridging Education, Ambition and Meaningful Work (BEAM) on recent initiatives to redefine the ways that undergraduates consider their career paths.
President Trump’s proposed PBR would cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Trump is the first president to cut government funding for arts, humanities and public media agencies to this severity.
According to Tessier-Lavigne, even if the PBR does not manifest itself within the final budget passed by Congress, federal agencies are nonetheless forced to plan for cuts suggested in the PBR.
The president noted that he will be convening with the Association of American Universities (AAU) presidents this month and that protecting university research is “at the top of our agenda.”
The conversation then moved to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) temporary suspension of the accelerated H-1B visa program and how it may affect the Stanford community. H-1B visas provide temporary employee status for faculty and students working in specialty occupations with prevailing or actual wages. “Prevailing” refers to wages determined by factors such as position title and geographic location.
Currently, only Bechtel International Center can submit H-1Bs for faculty and students looking for work at Stanford.
Vice President of Public Affairs David Demarest, the in-house expert on the topic, said that the expedited process has been suspended. According to the USCIS website, the suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed on and after April 3, 2017.
“We are looking at what exposure we have with H-1B visas,” Demarest said.
Faculty senators also heard from BEAM’s Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Career Education Farouk Dey about BEAM’s recent achievements and future direction. As Stanford’s career center, BEAM’s career education model revolves around helping students discover meaningful work. It also provides students with in-person career guidance and professional advice.
Dey argued that BEAM has “reimagined the conversation” regarding careers for students. Instead of making five-year or 10-year plans, students are encouraged to take advantage of all the happenstance within their lives. Dey emphasized that, for students, “uncertainty is okay” and added that he himself has no idea what he may do in the next year, let alone five.
On top of this shift in attitude, Dey said that BEAM has specifically reached out to freshmen and sophomores so that they will be better prepared academically as they become upperclassmen. He pointed to specific initiatives, including the ME104B: “Designing Your Life” and ME104S: “Designing Your Stanford” classes as examples of this new direction. Dey added that BEAM also emphasizes support for underrepresented minorities through programs like the Stanford Alumni Mentoring (SAM) program.
Finally, Dey highlighted BEAM’s success in diversifying career and employment options represented on campus beyond engineering and consulting. Only 10 percent of the class of 2016 graduates went into engineering-specific careers and 22 percent went into business, he said. Certain positions, however, may fall in multiple categories when accounted for as career paths.
Post-graduation, Dey said that these educational resources from BEAM are available to alumni “for life for free.”