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Students: Opportunities and initiatives

Stanford has undertaken a range of efforts at both the undergraduate and graduate levels to diversify the academic pipeline.

Sep 14 2016

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Recognizing that a diverse professoriate is dependent upon diversity in the ranks of graduate students entering academic professions, Stanford has undertaken a range of efforts at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Prominent among these is the DARE (Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence) Doctoral Fellowship Program, which awards two-year fellowships to advanced Stanford doctoral students from diverse backgrounds who want to investigate and prepare for academic careers. DARE, begun in 2008, so far has supported 144 fellows.

Another program, EDGE (Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education) Fellowships, aims to support the recruitment and retention of doctoral students in their first two years who have the potential to contribute to diversity in their academic fields and departments. EDGE currently supports 135 first- and second-year doctoral students and involves more than 70 advanced PhD student mentors.

For more than 20 years, Stanford has been part of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program, for sophomores interested in pursuing academic careers that address the educational consequences of racial and ethnic disparities in higher education. The program at Stanford has produced 28 PhDs. As that program focuses on the humanities and social sciences, Stanford has created a parallel program, the Stanford Undergraduate STEM Fellows Program, that provides similar support each year for undergraduates interested in academic careers in the natural sciences, math and engineering who will promote diversity, broadly defined, of the future professoriate.

Stanford's schools offer a range of other institutes and summer programs for current students, as well as for pre-college students. Examples include SURGEPre-College Math Institute/Valdes MathSummer Research Early Identification ProgramStanford Summer Health Careers Opportunity Program and many others. Fee waivers for applications to graduate school remove barriers for low-income students to apply to a Stanford graduate program. Also, the Stanford Diversity Outreach for Doctoral Education—Centers of Influence Retreat hosts program directors, faculty and administrators who work with diverse undergraduates on campuses across the country to prepare for doctoral study.

The Diversity and First-Gen Office (DGen) provides diversity training and education programs on topics ranging from engaging difference to identifying and addressing inequity. In partnership with other campus programs, the office has provided activities and training for more than 500 students and 300 faculty and staff over the past year. Its director also partners with Psychology Prof. Hazel Markus on an Intergroup Communication course that invites students to engage across different identity groups. In addition, DGen pursues initiatives and campus partnerships to promote a supportive academic environment for first-generation and low-income students. Currently, about 15 percent of Stanford undergraduates are the first in their families to attend a four-year college. The office was established in 2011 and has recently added staff to advance its mission.

An "Engaging Diversitycourse requirement is part of the "Ways of Thinking/Ways of Doing" graduation requirements for all Stanford undergraduates. This new requirement was a product of the 2012 Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford (SUES) report. The requirement asserts, "In a globally interconnected world, it is ethically and practically crucial to develop an awareness and understanding of differences. By gaining knowledge about diversity and public scholarship, your understanding of the social contexts that frame our communication and collaboration with one another will be extended, and your ability to respond to cultural challenges enhanced."

Undergraduate majors in race and ethnic studies are offered through the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. The center was the first interdisciplinary and comparative studies center of its type to be established at a private university in the United States. Since its founding in 1996, it has emerged as the premier center in higher education promoting comparative studies of the complex nature of ethnic and race relations. One program that is part of the CCSRE, the Program in African and African American Studies, established in 1969, was the first African and African American Studies program at a private university in the United States.

The Program in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies also offers an undergraduate major among its educational offerings.

Stanford's community centers provide support for student leadership and development, student mental health and well-being, and academic support and intellectual scholarship development. The centers also support a broad array of student organizations on campus. The centers, several of which have existed since the 1970s, offer an extensive range of programs discussed more fully on their respective websites – but below are just a few examples of activities each center has underway:

  • Leading through Education, Activism and Diversity (LEAD) is a collaborative initiative of multiple community centers. LEAD is a two-quarter program and class that develops cross-cultural, collaborative leadership skills of emerging student leaders.
  • The Asian American Activities Center (A3C) offers programs focusing on the mental health and well-being of students through a cultural lens, a mentoring program pairing sophomores with faculty, staff and alumni who understand the cultural factors that may impact the student experience at Stanford and a Graduate Student In Residence to support and facilitate undergraduate research.
  • The Black Community Services Center hosts an Intellectual Roundtable discussion series on contemporary and historical issues relevant to the Black community and offers a two-quarter program for freshmen focused on building a community of scholars, including close interaction with faculty, alumni and sponsors of fellowship/internship opportunities.
  • El Centro Chicano y Latino offers a two-quarter college transition program for freshmen, an honors thesis mentoring program, and a graduate scholars-in-residence program that promotes intellectual community among doctoral students from various disciplines and encourages mentorship between graduate and undergraduate students.
  • The LGBT Community Resources Center runs programs including Flourish, which helps LGBT and questioning students thrive at Stanford; Sharing Our Stories at Stanford, harnessing the power of story to help students narrate and reflect on their life experiences; and QuEST, providing support to student projects addressing sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • The Markaz: Resource Center for Engagement with the Cultures and Peoples of the Muslim World focuses on serving students interested in Africa, the Middle East, and central, south and southeast Asia, as well as the American Muslim experience. Its Chai Chats and Freshman Dinners facilitate critical conversations on issues relevant to the Muslim world.
  • The Native American Cultural Center offers programs including a 5-day immersion program for incoming students, a two-quarter program pairing freshmen with graduate students as research mentors, and a program offered in partnership with the that offers interactive workshops and training sessions on leadership and community building.
  • The Women's Community Center convenes a Women in STEM Series; an annual Stanford Women's Leadership Conference; the Graduate Resilience, Advancement and Diversity (GRAD) Programs aimed at advancing intellectual pursuits and combatting isolation at the graduate level; and an internship program for students developing leadership skills.

The Weiland Health Initiative, a partnership between Vaden Health Center and the LGBT Community Resources Center, offers mental health, medical services and educational programming that are affirming across the spectrum of all gender and sexual identities at Stanford.

Residential Education hosts training and development for residential staff and in-house educational and discussion experiences. Four ethnic theme houses also are among Stanford's housing options.

Stanford has continued to expand need-based financial aid to provide accessibility for families of all financial backgrounds. In 2015, Stanford increased from $100,000 to $125,000 the threshold for annual family income below which parents with typical assets are not expected to make any financial contribution toward undergraduate tuition.

Stanford also has launched new programs to assist students with the transition to Stanford. In 2012 the university began the Leland Scholars Program, which facilitates the transition to college for incoming freshmen intending to study in STEM or pre-health fields. The three-week residential program in the summer before Stanford entrance is particularly aimed at students coming from schools with limited science curricula and Advanced Placement offerings, or who are among the first in their families to attend college. A partner program in the School of Engineering, the Stanford Summer Engineering Academy, established in 1998, seeks to attract students of diverse backgrounds to engineering and helps inspire and define academic choices for incoming students.

Many others parts of the university offers programs that promote diversity and inclusion at Stanford – among them the Office for Religious Life, the Bechtel International Center, the Office of Accessible Education, the Haas Center for Public ServiceStudent Activities and Leadership, and many others both university-wide and within Stanford's seven schools.