Sunday Message: Responding to the Crisis

Dean Jon Levin writes to the Stanford GSB community to share his appreciation for the staff and student efforts navigating a difficult time.

April 05, 2020

Our neighbors had hung homemade cloth masks on a tree outside their home. They had posted a sign encouraging people to take one, and to contribute cloth so they could make more. (The picture below shows Evie’s admiration of the masks — and my limitations as a photographer.)

The “mask tree” served as a reminder of what we have lost, but also of the myriad acts of human affirmation and resilience taking place. This week we launched a spring quarter that none of us will forget. I want to thank our students for showing up ready to learn and engage, our faculty for their innovation and creativity in making the shift to virtual teaching, and staff across the school who have worked tirelessly to start the quarter.

Spring Quarter

With the start of the quarter, we have more than 100 MBA, MSx, and PhD sections being taught virtually. Students and faculty are running dozens of virtual activities and events. I have appreciated hearing stories of “what has worked” — the use of breakout groups in Strategy Beyond Markets, individual meetings with students to prepare for Winning Writing, economic policy BBLs with hundreds of attendees — as we adapt and figure out how to learn and create community in the new environment.

Responding to the Crisis

We continue to develop new initiatives and efforts that extend far beyond our (virtual) campus. A group of students has started a non-profit, Essential Supply, to deliver groceries and supplies safely to at-risk populations. Another group has started Gift Card Bank as a way to enable (virtual) donations to families who have been impacted by the virus. We have created a web page with op-eds and articles written by Stanford GSB faculty about the pandemic and the public policy response.

Appreciation for Stanford GSB Staff

For staff across the GSB, the last few weeks have brought new routines, new work and family demands, and new challenges. At every turn, individuals and teams have kept the school running smoothly and effectively, showing empathy and goodwill, and solving problems creatively. Many groups have played a crucial role in launching the quarter: our Digital Solutions, Teaching and Learning, and Faculty Assistant teams, who have been instrumental in shifting to virtual classes; our MBA, MSx, PhD, and CMC teams who have provided steadfast support for students; and our Facilities group which is focused resolutely on safety in our residences. Thank you to these groups, and to the entire Stanford GSB staff, as we continue to navigate a difficult time.

Summer Quarter

As Provost Drell communicated last week, we continue to face hard programmatic decisions in planning for summer quarter.

Earlier this week, we announced that we would postpone the start of the 2021 MSx program, scheduled to begin this summer. Limits on travel and visa processing played a key role in this decision, as well as the possibility of continuing restrictions on gathering. We are in communication with admitted students as we look to potential start dates later in the year.

We have canceled all in-person Executive Education through June 15, and continue to evaluate our options for summer quarter.


I started this message reflecting on the power of human affirmation. At a moment of doubt and uncertainty, acts that seem small — faculty members offering to meet with students, applause at the end of a class, appreciation for a staff member who has solved a problem — take on special meaning and power. They reaffirm our shared purpose in the face of challenge.

Earlier today, Queen Elizabeth addressed the British people. It was only the fifth time in seven decades she has done so. Her speech reminds us of the power of humanity to persevere and overcome adversity: “While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. We will succeed — and that success will belong to every one of us. We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”

I look forward to when we will be able to meet again. Thank you and stay safe.


Jon Levin
Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean

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