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Key recommendations on research and education from the SoE-Future process

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September 2015


The start of a new academic year is the time to roll out new plans and priorities. This year, the SoE-Future process provided a wealth of input that has informed a powerful strategic roadmap for the coming year and beyond. 

As I wrote in the spring, the SoE-Future committee did a phenomenal job distilling input from hundreds of people into a thoughtful series of recommendations. I spent the summer working with SoE senior leaders, faculty members, committee members, and others to triage these recommendations, which we realized early on could be grouped into three broad categories: research, education, and culture. We then determined which recommendations could be tackled in the short term with existing resources, and which would take more time and new resources.

I will present the key ideas from this process to the Stanford Board of Trustees in early October to get their thoughts. With this input, I will then share the school's strategic roadmap at a Dean's Circle event shortly thereafter. From early feedback, it's clear that the SoE-Future process yielded exactly what we hoped for: ideas that will shape the engineering school of the future and keep Stanford Engineering a leader in education and research for years to come. 

In the area of research, one idea, in particular, has generated a great deal of enthusiasm - the creation of the Accelerator for Collaborative Engineering. The Accelerator represents a new way to support interdisciplinary research and to have an impact on societal grand challenges in a dynamic and flexible way. Arun Majumdar, one of the SoE-Future committee co-chairs, has agreed to chair a group to further develop the Accelerator concept. 

In the area of education, Tom Kenny, our new Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs, will be engaging with faculty and students from inside the school and in other schools to rethink our core curriculum, including what we teach and how we teach. Tom is also engaging faculty, students, and staff to consider ways to enhance our diversity programs and make them more effective. Another key recommendation focused on the demand for more spaces designed for collaboration. To make sure we do this effectively, a space audit is being planned to show how space is currently used and to develop guiding principles for the shared and flexible spaces of the future. 

These are just a few illustrations of where the SoE-Future recommendations are already having an impact. I look forward to sharing more details with you in October. In the coming months, we plan to make significant progress on both our short- and long-term goals, and I want to ensure that you remain as engaged and involved moving forward as you were during the idea-generation phase of this process. I will use this letter to regularly update you on what we're doing to make these recommendations a reality and how you can help. This will be a very exciting year for us, and I look forward to sharing our progress with you!


Persis Drell

Frederick Emmons Terman Dean, Stanford School of Engineering 
James and Anna Marie Spilker Professor in the School of Engineering
​Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Physics, Stanford University