Dear GSB Alumni,
I hope you are staying healthy and safe in these trying times. Today is the start of the GSB’s spring quarter. The sun is shining and the sky is clear, but our campus is nearly empty and the classrooms are closed. Rather than sitting in Town Square and watching the return to campus, I am holding student, faculty, and staff town halls on my laptop. It is hard to capture how strange and unusual it is, only I know you are experiencing the same feeling of dislocation in your own lives.
We have spent the last several weeks working closely with the university, focused on protecting the health of the Stanford community and maintaining academic continuity. We moved quickly and decisively to institute social distancing, and to shift instruction online. Some of our students have returned home. Others remain in Palo Alto, or in GSB or Stanford graduate residences, which remain open, with extensive safety precautions. Students, faculty, and staff have responded to these changes in exemplary fashion, showing flexibility and resilience at every turn.
We have had to make many difficult decisions, including canceling student trips and events, postponing spring reunions, and announcing that we would be designing an alternative to traditional June commencement. We are already making contingency plans for summer, and as we look ahead, grappling with when and how in-person academic life can resume, and how it may change.
You will not be surprised that in the midst of this uncertainty and challenge, there have been many bright spots of adaptation and innovation at the GSB.
To prepare for spring quarter, more than a hundred GSB faculty have shifted their classes online, learning new tools, and sharing ideas — an inspiring level of collaboration and forced innovation. Students, including one group named “Team Positivity Contagion,” have organized dozens of virtual events, gatherings, and social activities. We are offering new classes on the pandemic and the business and policy response. In another new class, students will be prompted to chronicle their own experience, creating a historical record for themselves and also for the school.
We also are thinking beyond our (virtual) campus. Students have organized to procure healthcare equipment from manufacturers in China. Two of our physician-students are on the front lines of patient care in Canada and Nigeria. Faculty have been developing ideas for research and intellectual leadership, including surveys of business decision-making, analyses of financial market interventions, and modeling strategies to protect healthcare workers. Two of our faculty members created a virtual seminar series for hundreds of economists and statisticians, and this idea of “national” seminars is catching on in other fields.
It has been deeply inspiring to see GSBers in the news leading healthcare, manufacturing, and technology companies, and spearheading public policy. What is even more inspiring is to know how many organizations and communities around the world are benefitting from the actions and leadership of GSB alumni. At a time of crisis, the world looks to institutions such as the GSB to rise to the occasion, and our greatest impact continues to be through the efforts of our alumni.
We have heard from many of you in recent weeks, sharing your stories and looking for ways to be involved with the school. I encourage you to visit our alumni resources page. You can also find my weekly messages to the school on our COVID-19 response page. This will be the first of many communications we expect to send in coming months to keep alumni informed and engaged during what will be an extraordinarily challenging and also transformative time.
Thank you for staying connected, and for being part of the GSB. I wish you health and optimism.
Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean