COVID-19 Update

Dean Jon Levin writes to the Stanford GSB community about the pivot to virtual learning and remote work.

March 15, 2020

I would like to express my gratitude for everyone’s adaptability and resilience during this new and uncertain time. The goodwill and innovation in recent days at the GSB makes me confident in our ability to meet the current challenge.

As I did last week, I write to communicate common information for students, faculty and staff to complement the specific information you are receiving from other members of the GSB leadership.

Completing Winter Quarter

We shifted the GSB to virtual instruction in the span of sixty hours last weekend. Kudos to faculty and students, and to our staff involved with teaching and technology, for pulling off something remarkable. It wasn’t perfect. On Tuesday, I learned that it’s important to face the camera when talking to a virtual class; other faculty went immediately to more advanced lessons. However, I think we all learned a new level of appreciation for current technology, and the foundation we set this week will serve us well as we look to Spring Quarter.

Campus Facilities

Stanford is moving rapidly to create a less-populated campus, and on Friday, Santa Clara County restricted events greater than 35 people, and cancelled those greater than 100. With these changes, the current state of GSB facilities is as follows.

With fewer people on campus, we are securing classrooms, breakout rooms, student lounges, staff and faculty areas, and the Bass Center. Please make sure to carry your Stanford ID with you so you are able to access the buildings. If you need help accessing a building, the number for on-site security is
(408) 731-0282.

Arbuckle and Coupa Cafe remain open at this time. Arbuckle will be open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. with limited capacity in the food service area. Please respect the Bon Appétit staff if they ask you to wait outside to keep numbers below 35. Coupa Cafe will be open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Graduate housing remains open. Stanford has recognized that this is home for many students. The GSB facilities team is making extra efforts to clean and sanitize common areas in Schwab and McDonald Hall.

Work Arrangements

We are strongly encouraging remote work. This promotes social distancing, and will minimize the exposure of colleagues and workspaces when one or more of us become infected. For staff members, you should be working from home unless your manager has told you that your presence at the school is essential for continuity of operations. We will all be getting comfortable with, and improving our productivity in, distributed work arrangements.

That said, my new mantra is: social distancing – not social isolation. Please take time to connect with your friends and colleagues virtually or in other ways that promote public safety and good physical and emotional health. We will be looking actively for ways to build community in this new environment, and welcome suggestions.

Spring Quarter Academics

We are in active planning for Spring Quarter.

Faculty have been hearing from Paul Oyer regarding teaching planning. Thanks to everyone who has stepped up with their online course planning, and especially to those who have volunteered to offer new classes or expand section sizes. Thanks also to faculty with extensive remote teaching experience who have been willing to mentor those of us on the learning curve.

Students can expect to receive course offerings and registration details for Spring Quarter on Monday, March 23. We are planning a virtual Student Town Hall that week to discuss how to make the quarter exceptional, if very different, relative to any prior Spring Quarter at the GSB. In the meantime, we will continue to update student FAQs and MyGSB as the situation evolves.

In Closing

We are embarking on a new phase. Over the past week, people around the world have recognized the seriousness of the public health situation, and the need to take decisive action, as we have done, and will continue to do. Let’s keep in mind, as events unfold, that we are in a relatively privileged position to weather the storm.

The next weeks will be a period of necessary innovation. In a way, it is extraordinary for an entire faculty to rethink their teaching simultaneously, and so rapidly. Let’s try to celebrate the successes, be patient with the failures, and learn together. If anyone is in a position to be innovative in this way, it’s us.

Let’s be especially mindful of our graduating students, who have been looking forward to Spring Quarter most of all, and now must try to make the most of a difficult situation.

One of our lecturers, David Dodson, beautifully captured their call to action: “I’m hoping within this disappointment, your class might create something special, which becomes a bond that far exceeds what normally happens to all the other classes each spring. That the class of 2020 becomes the class with the strongest bonds of any class, because of your shared and unique experience.” There is a broader lesson here: we all have the opportunity to come together and create something special.

Lastly, let’s continue the spirit of empathy and compassion that characterized this last week. Please stay safe and healthy.


Jon Levin
Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean

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