Sunday Message: May 24, 2020

Dear All,

Memorial Day marks a transition from spring into summer. We are entering the final weeks of the quarter, and are looking ahead to our virtual graduation weekend on June 13 and 14, and then the summer. I hope everyone is enjoying the weekend sunshine, and staying off video calls.

In recent months, we have had to rethink many of the things we do at Stanford GSB. The change has required enormous flexibility on the part of students, faculty, and staff, and has left us dearly missing aspects of normal life. At the same, it has inspired a great deal of innovation. This week I wanted to share a few summer program examples.

Stanford Rebuild

Many successful companies started in economic downturns by identifying new needs of consumers or businesses. With that motivation, faculty member Stefanos Zenios has led an effort to develop Stanford Rebuild. Stanford Rebuild will enable teams from across Stanford and around the world to participate in a summer innovation sprint to develop businesses to rebuild the economy or seek solutions to Covid-related challenges. Participants will have free access to the Stanford Embark online entrepreneurship curriculum. The Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and Executive Education have played a key role in developing this program, along with partners from across Stanford.

In this same spirit, we also have launched the Botha-Chan Summer 2020 Innovation Internship Program specifically for Stanford GSB students. It is open to students who will be returning to school next fall to work on entrepreneurial projects during the unique summer of 2020. With this new program, Stanford GSB alumni will have created more than 200 job and summer internship opportunities for our students.

Stanford Business Leadership Series

In a typical Stanford GSB summer, we welcome around two thousand business leaders to the Knight Management Center to participate in a wide range of executive programs. With the campus closed, GSB faculty and staff have been hard at work creating a new set of virtual programs. These programs are a response to our altered circumstances, and an opportunity to explore innovative and potentially lasting ways for our faculty to reach business leaders around the world and disseminate ideas.

An early example is the Stanford Business Leadership Series, directed by faculty member Bill Barnett. The SBL Series will offer live sessions all summer on topics ranging from strategic leadership to human-centered innovation to neuroscience and decision-making. It is a very different model from our previous executive offerings, and I look forward to what we will learn from this initial experience.

Other Updates

  • Gift Card Bank: I have written several times about inspiring non-profits set up by students in response to Covid. I was delighted to learn this week that Gift Card Bank, established by a team of MBA and MSx students, has raised more than $75,000 to feed families and has formed a partnership with Kroger, the largest grocer in the US.
  • Seed Internship Program: Over the last few years, Stanford Seed has enabled students from across Stanford to work with entrepreneurial companies in Africa and India, through the Seed Internship Program. Faced with a global shut-down, I am pleased to share that Seed already has placed 40 students in virtual internships, including 24 Stanford GSB students from the MBA, MSx, and PhD programs.
  • As we look ahead to the re-opening of campus, I enjoyed reading Stanford alumnus Atul Gawande’s article on the experience at the Massachusetts General Hospital. It gives a sense of how social distancing, masks, health checks, and a culture of safety can enable large numbers of people to interact while preserving public health.

Closing

When I was growing up, I attended a wonderful summer camp on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, where I learned to climb mountains, kayak, and sail. The camp is multi-generational — these days my sons attend. It was a sad day in the Levin family when they canceled this year. This morning we gathered virtually with the families of the other campers to look at pictures and share reflections. It was an intense reminder of everything we will be missing this summer — which is a feeling that I know everyone shares — as well as a reminder of the relationships and friends we have not lost.

Enjoy tomorrow’s holiday,

Jon Levin
Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean