Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
The VPUE Faculty QuarterlyVPUE Logo

Spring Quarter 2011 - 2012


Dear Colleagues:  

I hope that you had a restful break. As the spring quarter begins, I write with updates on a variety of issues relating to undergraduate education at Stanford.  First, this quarter the Faculty Senate will discuss the SUES proposed breadth requirements that would change the current disciplined based system to one that is based on skills and capacities that might be attained in multiple disciplines. In February, the Senate voted to change the current freshman year requirements from three quarters of IHUM plus one quarter of PWR to one quarter of the new Thinking Matters and one quarter of PWR. While the IHUM program drew principally from the humanities, Thinking Matters courses will come from across the campus, including courses from the law school and medical school. Thinking Matters courses confront significant questions or problems of human experience past and present and propose intellectual methodologies for "thinking" about these matters. Next year, we will have over thirty new Thinking Matters courses. Our thanks go out to all of the faculty teaching in the new program and to Russell Berman, the Director of Thinking Matters, for his work in recruiting these courses. If you are not teaching a Thinking Matters course next year, we hope that you might consider it in the future.

I also hope that, if you are not currently engaged in teaching an introductory seminar, you will consider doing so. The Faculty Senate determined not to follow the original SUES recommendation to require freshman seminars. Instead, over the next four years, we will strongly encourage and try to increase the percentage of freshman enrolled in introductory seminars. In order to do so, we need your help. We must offer some seminars at alternative times-early morning and evenings-to enable student athletes and others to fit these courses into their schedules. We will also need to offer more courses in areas of high demand, most principally in engineering and the social sciences.

Another area of need is for faculty pre-major advisors. Last year, we had an unprecedented number of faculty volunteer for this service and hope to match or exceed this record next year. Those who served experienced the pleasure of helping students new to the university define their academic futures. With the academic hold in place, advisees must see their PMA prior to registering-guaranteeing that your advisees will seek you out each quarter. We have heard from many advisors, and students too, that this additional incentive for conversation made their advising relationships stronger and more meaningful. Please consider joining me in signing up to be a pre-major advisor.

In coordination with the provost's office and the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, we held a meeting of department chairs and directors of undergraduate studies to discuss their responses to the SUES report and the new possibilities open for them and their faculty members. The chairs raised an important concern: what happens to the freshman year now that freshmen have more choice and freedom? One important answer is that we need departments to develop introductory courses designed specifically for freshmen. This does not mean moving required courses into the freshman year. Rather, departments should create courses that acquaint students with the discipline, even if they are not going to major in it. At this gathering, the provost urged departments not only to consider mounting such courses but to hold departmental meetings in which they would consider how they might look beyond their majors to provide service to all students with their undergraduate course offerings. In the fall, we will hold another meeting with department chairs to review these questions and to discuss further possibilities that SUES opens up to them for curricular and pedagogical innovation.

Faculty College is one place that the VPUE has created to enable faculty to incubate curricular ideas and "study' new developments in pedagogy. The first year's Faculty College comes to conclusion this month, and two of the projects from this year will become Thinking Matters courses next year. In addition, we are pleased to announce that we have "accepted" our second class for Faculty College. Included in this newsletter is a complete list of the faculty and their team projects.    

In closing, I am sad to report that Julie Lythcott-Haims, the Dean of Freshmen and Undergraduate Advising and Research, will be leaving Stanford at the end of this year to study for an MFA in poetry at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Julie has played a significant role in transforming advising at Stanford. She has established a faculty advisory board and has worked with faculty on a variety of fronts to improve the undergraduate experience at Stanford. In addition, she has inspired and supported countless Stanford students with energy and compassion. She will be greatly missed. We will hold an event to celebrate and say good bye to Julie formally later this spring.

I hope that you all have a very productive spring quarter.




Harry J. Elam, Jr.

Olive H. Palmer Professor in the Humanities
Freeman-Thornton Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

New Programs

With the arrival of new Associate Director for Technology and Teaching, Amy Collier, VPUE and CTL launched the Technology in Pedagogy Initiative during the Winter Quarter. This initiative promotes the use of innovative and evidence-based teaching and learning with technology strategies to foster student engagement in Stanford classes. If you are interested in experimenting with technology in your classes, including teaching a flipped model or open online course, please ipadscontact Amy Collier at or Marcelo Clerici-Arias at

If you are already using technology for teaching and learning, consider scheduling a Small Group Evaluation (SGE) for your Spring course to identify ways in which the technology supports or hinders learning. To set up an evaluation, fill out a request form approximately one week prior to the date on which you would like to have the evaluation done. For more information, please contact

Leland Scholars Program

The VPUE is delighted to announce the creation of the Leland Scholars Program (LSP) - a new, three-year pilot to support incoming freshmen from under-resourced high schools who have indicated an interest in STEM fields. Programs such as this have been shown to have a positive and measurable academic, social, and personal impact on students.


Starting with its inaugural class in August 2012, 35 students will be invited to attend a 3-week summer residential program focused on scientific inquiry, study and problem-solving skills, and making the transition to college. By participating in the summer program, and taking advantage of the on-going support structures throughout the freshman and sophomore years, students should experience outcomes such as stronger grades, a supportive peer community, increased interaction with faculty, and a greater familiarity with university resources.


LSP is a collaborative effort between Stanford Introductory Studies and various partners across the campus including the Department of Chemistry, the Center for Teaching and Learning, Undergraduate Advising and Research, the Office of Undergraduate Admission, and Student Affairs. If you would like to be involved in the Leland Scholars Program or would like to learn more, please contact Warren Chiang at
Grants and Prizes

New Humanities-X Curriculum Development Grants
The Humanities-X project supports the development of new cross-disciplinary courses or the modification of existing courses for undergraduates that link humanities fields with the social sciences, sciences, engineering, or other disciplines. These courses should demonstrate the ways in which humanistic study can enrich and be enriched by other fields; they should be genuine bridges between disciplines rather than superficial glosses. Such courses could bring humanistic thinking to bear on social problems or scientific issues. Examples might include a partnership between an area studies program and a literature and language program, an exploration of medical humanities, or many other artpossible combinations. The deadline for the 2011-12 academic year is April 15, 2012. The request for proposals may be found on our faculty and staff website. For questions, please contact Shari Palmer at

Hoagland Award

The Hoagland Award Fund addresses an urgent need of the faculty for a source of funds specifically earmarked for pedagogical innovation. Innovative teaching approaches may be embodied in an entirely new course or set of courses, the major redesign of an existing course or courses, or a project to reexamine or rethink aspects of a curriculum with an emphasis on reconsidered pedagogy and new learning materials. The proposed project may involve one faculty member or a team, though preference will be given to projects likely to have greater impact either because of the number of faculty/departments/programs involved, the depth or breadth of student engagement, or the likelihood that the project will be a model for other Stanford courses. The request for proposals is now available and proposals are due no later than April 30, 2012.

Announcing the 2012-13 Class of Faculty College
Faculty College brings small faculty teams together over the course of the academic year to plan, study, and develop innovative curricular and pedagogical ideas. This year's Faculty College class includes faculty from six of the seven schools:
  • Ancient History and Political Science: Stephen Haber, Ian Morris, Josiah Ober, and Walter Scheidel
  • At the Intersection of Science, Technology, and Society: Reinventing STS One at Stanford: Paula Findlen, Jeffrey Heer, John Willinsky
  • Cultures of Knowledge: Paula Findlen, Thomas Mullaney, Reviel Netz, Robert Proctor, Jessica Riskin
  • Department of English: Blalir Hoxby, Gavin Jones, Paula Moya, Chris Rovee, Blakey Vermeule
  • Food Systems: Christopher Gardner, Debra Dunn, Jay Mitchell, Patrick Archie, Matthew Rothe, Julie Reed
  • Human Trafficking and Human Rights: Historical, Legal, and Medical Issues: Katherine Jolluck, Helen Stacy, Rebecca Walker, Suzanne Lippert
  • I-Earth: Rosemary Knight plus team to be finalized
  • Paradigm Shift: Mark Applebaum, Rob Reich 
Honoring the Best Undergraduate Theses
VPUE annually celebrates the top ten percent of undergraduate honors theses at the Medals Ceremony, held the Saturday before Commencement. The Robert M. Golden Medal for Excellence in the Humanities and the Creative Arts is awarded to the strongest honors theses in the humanities, senior projects, or performances in the arts. The Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research recognizes the best honors theses in social science, science, and engineering. The single best thesis in each field of humanities, social sciences, natural sciences or engineering is honored with the David M. Kennedy Honors Thesis Prize.

student_facultyFaculty considering nominating a thesis should speak to their department chair. Departments will receive information about the nomination process by the end of March, and the major deadline for departments to submit complete nominations will be Tuesday, May 29, 2012. For more information, please contact

There are over 200 Introductory Seminars taught annually, by faculty drawn from Humanities and Sciences, GES, the Medical School, the Law School, and Engineering. The Excellence Awards were inaugurated to recognize the high level of scholarly achievement produced by first and second year students in these seminars with the active mentorship and engagement of their teachers. All nominations are judged by faculty members who serve on Introductory Seminar Advisory Board; students receive cash awards. You are invited to nominate an individual student (or students, if they produce a group project) for outstanding work in your seminar at any point in the academic year.  Nominations may be submitted online.
Teaching Opportunities

Pre-Major Advising
Please consider being a Pre-Major Advisor. The recently released SUES report is very supportive of the work that is being done by Undergraduate Advising and Research, but calls on a larger number of faculty contributing to pre-major advising. If you have never considered it before, have this year be the year that you do so. Contact Kirsti Copeland, Director of Residentially-Based Advising, for more information.

Undergraduate Advising and Research (UAR) is seeking abstracts for "Engaging with Faculty" sessions during New Student Orientation (NSO). With the dual goals of encouraging new students to connect with faculty early in their Stanford career and of introducing them to the richness of mentoring opportunities at Stanford, "Engaging with Faculty" will feature a number of concurrent faculty talks in two forty-five minute sessions. Talks should be highly engaging and accessible (like a TED Talk) and may describe how the faculty member pursued a path from undergraduate to graduate studies; sought out and formed relationships with mentors; or involves undergraduates in research. Abstract of roughly 150 words should be submitted for consideration to Cari Costanzo Kapur, Academic Director in UAR at by Monday, May 21, 2012
Teaching Resources


Led by Stanford faculty colleagues and Center for Teaching and Learning staff, this 20-hour seminar provides assistant professors (preference to those in their first three years at Stanford) with a collaborative and immersive environment in which to design or modify a course while simultaneously helping to optimize student engagement and learning. Over a four-day period in early September (September 6 & 7, 10 & 11) participating faculty will apply research on teaching and learning to the development of a syllabus and/or selected class materials for one of their Stanford courses and will explore teaching strategies best suited to their course goals. Past participants have given the experience rave reviews, noting both that stress around teaching was reduced and that they were now focusing "teaching energy" in much more productive and efficient ways. This event has the strong endorsement of the Deans of H&S, Engineering, and Earth Sciences as well as the Vice Provosts for Undergraduate Education and Faculty Development and Diversity. Please see the seminar flyer for details. Applications are open now with notification of acceptance in early May.
Upcoming Events


doumontCommunicating Science to Lay Audiences
Thursday, April 12, 2012, from noon-1 pm, Clark Center, S360. Lecture by Jean-luc Doumont, Stanford Ph.D. alum in Applied Physics, sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). Lecture is free and open to the public. Audience members are encouraged to bring a brown-bag lunch. Drinks and desserts are served.

"Analyzing the Teaching Process: Enabling the Cognitive Teacher," led by Professor Kelley Skeff
Friday, April 13, 2012 from noon-1:15 pm, Y2E2, Room 101
The process of teaching is complex and challenging. Faculty need to make organized and systematic decisions regarding the instructional work that they do with students. Thus, they can be benefited by an organizational scheme to enable them to analyze and make decisions about their own teaching. Since 1985, the Stanford Faculty Development Center for Medical Teachers  has been using an educational framework for assisting teachers to analyze and improve their teaching effectiveness. In this session, Dr. Kelley Skeff, co-director of the Stanford Faculty Development Center for Medical Teachers, will share prior work on this framework as well as describe the
skeffdissemination program being used for faculty around the world. This session will provide the opportunity both to be briefly exposed to the framework and provide your own insight into its potential utility for faculty outside the field of medicine. Register online

Upcoming Lunches
"Teaching Large Classes"

Thursday, April 26, 2012
Register online

"Topic still open... please suggest!"
Monday, May 21, 2012


For more information on any Science and Engineering Teaching Lunch, contact Robyn Dunbar at Humanities and Social Sciences faculty are welcome at any of the above or can contact Marcelo Clerici-Arias at to start a Social Science series, or contact Mariatte Denman at to start a Humanities series.

The Stanford Storytelling Project brings the power of performed stories to Stanford. Through live events, courses and grants, the project gives students the opportunity to experience the transformative energy of great stories and better understand how they change us. Through its weekly workshops, monthly storytelling performances, and podcasted radio show, the project also gives students the opportunity to craft and tell their own great stories.

guberSpring 2012 Series "Telling the Truth"
Each year, we invite storytellers of every kind-poets, journalists, filmmakers, dramatists, comedians, novelists-to come to campus to tell stories on a particular theme. This year, our theme is "Telling the Truth" and our storytellers will address the question, "What does it take to tell the truth?" 

An Evening with Peter Guber
Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 7:30 pm
CEMEX Auditorium, Knight Management Center
"Making up the Tuth" with Jack Hitt
Friday, May 4, 2012, 7:30 pm
Cubberley Auditorium, Stanford University

An Evening with David Whyte
Thursday, May 10, 2012, 7:30 pm
CEMEX Auditorium, Knight Management Center

Award-Winning Teachers on Teaching

The Center for Teaching and Learning's lecture series, Award-Winning Teachers on Teaching, invites faculty winners of Stanford's major teaching awards to deliver a lecture on a teaching topic of their choice. The Spring Quarter series will feature two speakers:    


Professor Robert Siegel, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, will speak Thursday, May 10, siegel2012, from noon-1:05 pm, Hartley Conference Center, Mitchell Earth Sciences Building on "Adventures in the Edusphere: Reflections on a Career in Academia": Teaching is a great adventure. Through a series of personal anecdotes, this talk will emphasize the extraordinary rewards, opportunities, experimentation, coincidences, and good fortune of teaching at Stanford.   

Professor Daphne Koller, Rajeev Motwani Professor in the School of Engineering, Department of Computer Science, will speak Thursday, May 17, 2012, from noon-1:05 pm, Hartley Conference Center, Mitchell Earth Sciences Building on "The Online Revolution: High-Quality Education for the 100%": Whereas technology and automation have made almost all segments of our economy vastly more efficient, education today isn't much different than it was 300 years ago. Now we have a tremendous opportunity to use modern internet and AI technology to offer a high-quality education inexpensively online. I'll describe our recent experiments in online education and discuss why this model can provide an improved classroom experience for on-campus students as well as giving millions of people around the world a premier education previously available only to a tiny few.

All talks are free and open to the public; no reservation required. Audience members are encouraged to bring a brown-bag lunch. Drinks and desserts are served.


The Hume Writing Center (HWC) will commemorate its 10th Anniversary with a two-day Celebration of Writing at Stanford.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012
12:30-2:00 pm: Boothe Prize Award Ceremony for excellence in first-year writing
4:00-5:30 pm: Hoefer Prize Award Ceremony for excellence in Writing in the Major
Both ceremonies will be held at the Faculty Club

7:00-9:00 pm: Celebration of Writing featuring various arts and spoken word performances

Thursday, May 17, 2012
12:30-2:00 pm: The Lunsford Oral Presentation of Research Awards (LOPRA)
3:00-5:00 pm: The Hume Writing Center's 10th Anniversary Celebration

Please visit the HWC website to review the range of services the HWC offers students and faculty.

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