Sunday Message — Welcoming the MBA Class of 2022: September 6, 2020

September 6, 2020

Dear GSB Community,

On Friday we welcomed the MBA Class of 2022. The class includes students with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and aspirations; we’ll publish a class profile within the next few weeks. The GSB Admissions team has done a truly remarkable job of admitting and recruiting a diverse and talented class in the face of novel challenges. We also are welcoming 20 outstanding PhD students — their orientation will kick off on Tuesday. Our new MSx cohort will be arriving in January. A special part of every academic institution is the spirit of renewal that comes every September — you can feel some of that energy and enthusiasm in this video.

As all of us are keenly aware, our new students are arriving at an important time. Our lives, and those of everyone on the planet, are disrupted by the pandemic. We are confronting inequities in health, education, and work, and the country’s legacy of racism against Black Americans. More than ever, the world needs leaders who will bring analytic and strategic thinking, innovation, empathy, and courage to the collective challenges we face. That makes it especially exciting to welcome a new cohort of these future leaders to the GSB.

With the start of the academic year, I expect to write most Sunday nights. This week, I have a number of updates about our campus operations, testing, and GSB programs.

School Updates

  • Botha-Chan Innovation Program. This week, I had the pleasure of attending some impressive and inspiring final presentations by MBA students who participated this summer in the Botha-Chan Innovation Internship Program. The program came out of our effort last spring to encourage alumni to support jobs and internships, or in this case, develop entrepreneurial ideas, in the face of an especially challenging job market. Congratulations to the twenty-six Botha-Chan entrepreneurs, Professor Stefanos Zenios, and Center for Entrepreneurial Studies team for a tremendous program!
  • Rising Scholars Conference. Two important components of the Action Plan for Racial Equity that we announced this summer are to develop a stronger pipeline of faculty from under-represented groups, and to improve our culture of inclusion. To these ends, our faculty and PhD students have organized a new Rising Scholars Conference, planned for October 27-28, to promote the work of diverse PhD and Postdoctoral students across all management disciplines. The conference has met with significant interest, with more than 100 submissions and 300 registered participants from around the country.
  • Policies for Reopening. As I’ve written about before, a number of GSB faculty have adapted their research to study the business and societal implications of COVID-19. GSB professors Mohammad Akbarpour and Shoshana Vasserman, and PhD student Cody Cook have used cell phone data to map interactions and model the effects of reopening policies. You can experiment yourself and see the variation across cities using their interactive model. Mohammad also won a prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship last month, so it was a productive summer!
  • COVID-19 Testing. With the fall quarter upon us, Stanford’s COVID-19 testing program is in full swing. This week the university announced that of the 2,000 tests conducted in August, there has been one positive case. Stanford also announced details of the surveillance testing program for faculty, staff, and postdocs. A COVID-19 testing dashboard is in the works to publicly report testing results.

Closing

Labor Day marks the end of summer, and in a normal year, we would be planning barbecues and inviting friends over. This year continues to bring surprises and to challenge us to adapt. We have been working all summer to prepare for the fall, with the excellent work of our Autumn Quarter Task Force, and the combined efforts of faculty, staff, and students. For me, that preparation started to pay off last week when I walked through a campus filled with tents and outdoor furniture, and met some of our newly arrived students. Their excitement and optimism was infectious (don’t worry, we were wearing masks and standing six feet apart), and left me energized for the coming months. I hope everyone has a chance to feel some of that spirit of renewal this week.

Jon Levin