Fall Quarter Update: October 30, 2020

October 30, 2020

Dear All,

I write with a midterm update from Stanford Graduate School of Business and to express my gratitude for the support alumni have been providing the school during this challenging time. In case you are wondering what the GSB looks like during the time of COVID-19, please view our slideshow documenting the past several weeks on campus.

Last month, we welcomed our new MBA and PhD students; our new MSx students will arrive in January. Our admissions team did a remarkable job assembling a talented and diverse class in the face of novel challenges. The MBA Class of 2022 includes students from 70 countries, has our largest proportion of U.S. students of color, and is again close to gender parity. The students have impressive backgrounds in business and inspiring achievements as Navy Seals, Olympians, and Emmy Award winners. The richness in their backgrounds is matched by their aspirations to contribute in business and society.

More than 600 of our new and returning students are living on the Stanford campus, with most of the others nearby. We have set up tents and outdoor furniture at the Knight Management Center to facilitate socially distanced interaction. Classes are primarily virtual, with a small amount of outdoor in-person instruction. A highlight of the early fall was a new First Lecture series dreamed up by our Autumn Quarter Task Force, which involved 32 faculty giving talks for returning MBA students.

Campus health is a central priority. We have in place comprehensive testing: weekly for students, with an additional program for faculty and staff. Although we entered the quarter with some trepidation, the infection rate has so far been very low. Stanford has conducted more than 45,000 tests this fall, with around 20 positive cases. We feel very fortunate thus far, but remain vigilant and are taking nothing for granted.

The pandemic has inspired a wave of new programs, courses, and events across the GSB. Over the summer, the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies introduced Stanford Rebuild, which made our online entrepreneurship curriculum and mentoring available to more than 5,000 teams around the world. Twenty-five MBA students participated in a new Botha-Chan Innovation Internship program. Students continue to get involved in service efforts, including through a new Civic Workshop offered last spring, and a “local” version of Design for Extreme Affordability introduced this fall.

As part of our Action Plan for Racial Equity, we are offering a new class, Leadership for Society: Race and Power, led by Professor Brian Lowery. We invite you to join the more than 4,000 people who have registered to attend the webinar, or listen to edited podcast episodes. This week, we ran the first Stanford GSB Rising Scholars Conference for diverse PhD students from across the country. I look forward to providing a more detailed update on the Action Plan in December when we release our Annual Report on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

A major highlight of the year occurred earlier this month when Professors Bob Wilson and Paul Milgrom were awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. They were recognized for the development of auction theory and its application to markets around the world, including their design of the Federal Communications Commission auctions of radio spectrum licenses in the 1990s that helped to launch the mobile telephone industry. Remarkably, Bob has had three students at the GSB go on to win the Nobel, including Paul. Stanford’s video of them talking about their work is a wonderful affirmation of the school’s commitment to research and teaching. And the security video footage of Bob ringing Paul’s doorbell at 2 a.m. to tell him about the prize went viral on social media — it has received more than six million views — and provided a welcome piece of happiness in the midst of a difficult year.

This extraordinary year has brought new challenges and disrupted all of our lives. At the same time, having to work harder to deliver on the school’s mission has brought a sense of renewed purpose to our efforts to educate leaders for society, bring ideas to action, and catalyze change. I am especially grateful to the many GSB alumni who have supported the school, and are helping us to create a memorable year.

Wishing you health and optimism,

Jonathan Levin