By Sean Chen
On Thursday, in its last meeting of the academic year, the Faculty Senate heard from the Chair of the Stanford University Board of Trustees Jeff Raikes ’80. Raikes said that international need-blind admission need an endowment of approximately $350 million implement, and that Stanford should place increased emphasis on aid for middle income families as well as address student-Board relations and investment policies.
Members of the Emeriti Council reported on the need for further engagement and support of the emeriti faculty body. The Senate also voted to approve the list of candidates for baccalaureate and advanced degrees.
In his presentation to the Senate, Raikes, who began his tenure as Chair of the Board last year, addressed current priorities for the Board of Trustees and clarified its role within the University.
For Raikes, challenges facing the Board range from shifting student demographics to University investment policies.
Regarding student demographics, Raikes spoke about financial aid policies as they apply to families of middle and lower-middle income and internationals.
“I think we’re doing a pretty good job for the lower income brackets but not as good for the middle or lower-middle income brackets,” Raikes said.
In terms of need-blind admissions for international students, Raikes stated that the implementation of such policies would take time and a tentative $350 million. Currently, Stanford is need-blind to U.S. applicants only, in contrast to some peer schools.
Raikes also noted that alumni of the past five to 10 years have rated their Stanford experience lower than those of earlier years and suggested that the Board needs to improve its relationship with the student body.
“I think we [University leadership] have to build trust with the students,” Raikes said. “For whatever set of reasons [Stanford leaders] kind of got away from that.”
He cited the punishing of the Stanford Band and handling of sexual violence cases as possible sources of distrust.
In addition, Raikes spoke of an altered approach toward young alumni.
“Maybe we should put less emphasis on asking [young alumni] for a contribution to Stanford their first year out of college,” he said. “Maybe we should really emphasize their connection with Stanford.”
Raikes also mentioned that the Board is reviewing its investment processes, which have drawn scrutiny from student activists pushing for divestment from, for example, the fossil fuel industry.
“A lot of [the University’s investment policy] was invented in the 20th century,” he said. “I think we have to really up our game in how we think about investment responsibility.”
The role of the Board, according to Raikes, is oversight of the management, resources and reputation of the University in order to facilitate Stanford’s mission.
“The fundamental responsibility of the trustees is the fiduciary responsibility for the University and its academic mission in perpetuity,” Raikes said.
Raikes said that the Board does not pursue its own vision, but rather works to support the existing University leadership.
“There is no agenda of the Board, and certainly no agenda of the Board Chair other than the agenda of the leadership of this institution,” he said.
In addition, Raikes touched on his work during his first year as Chair. He mentioned his ongoing “listening tour,” in which he meets with previous University presidents, Board chairs, student leaders and other individuals with relevant experience or insight for the trustees.
He discussed initiatives to further acquaint the trustees with faculty research and life on campus.
The Emeriti Council also presented to the Faculty Senate.
Pediatrics professor emerita Iris Litt expressed the importance of establishing stronger support networks for emeriti faculty members.
Litt said that, while Stanford is a world leader in research related to the quantitative and qualitative aspects of aging, it has not utilized such progress to improve the lives of the emeriti faculty. She said a survey of the emeriti faculty would be conducted in the coming year in order to learn more about these community members’ situations and desires.
Political Science Professor Emeritus David Abernethy presented on initiatives for further engagement of emeritus faculty in the University community.
According to Abernethy, the Emeriti Council exists to foster a sense of community within emeriti professors, communicate the needs of emeriti and assist the University in carrying out its mission. It currently serves around 1,000 Stanford emeriti.
Abernethy highlighted programs such as the Council’s ongoing Autobiographical Reflections lectures series and a recent collaboration with Residential Education to invite emeritus faculty to visit and speak at undergraduate dorms.
In addition, Abernethy stressed the value of emeriti insights in preparing students for their post-graduation lives. He suggested that emeriti may serve as mentors and advisors for undergraduate students.
“Young people looking forward can learn from elders looking back,” Abernethy said.
President Marc Tessier-Lavigne thanked the Faculty Senate for its work over the past year.
“I’ve been impressed by the quality and the depth of discussion in the Senate and also by the very important perspectives that have been provided,” Tessier-Lavigne said.
Contact Sean Chen at kxsean ‘at’ stanford.edu.