2008: The Year in Review




The Zohar—a compendium of enigmas that forms the basis of the Kabbalah—gets a renewal thanks to Stanford University Press’ new translation, which earns a Koret Jewish Book Award.


Graduate student Jennifer Martinez is named the 2008 Daniel Pearl Memorial Journalism Intern and will work in the London bureau of the Wall Street Journal.

The Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, headed by Claude Steele, the Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences, becomes part of Stanford.


The Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory, home to the world’s first full-scale linear accelerator, is torn down to make way for new buildings in the Science and Engineering Quadrangle.




Ron Fedkiw, associate professor of computer science, wins an Academy Award with two collaborators at
Industrial Light and Magic for computer-generated action used in such films as “Pirates of the Caribbean.”


The bicycle race Tour of California brings thousands of spectators to campus to watch the end of the time trials on the Oval.

Bill Gates, chairman and co-founder of Microsoft Corp., launches his college tour before a Memorial Auditorium crowd and discusses the role software-driven technology plays in the developing world.

Provost John Etchemendy announces that parents with incomes less than $100,000 will no longer pay tuition as a result of trustee approval of the largest financial aid increase in Stanford’s history.

U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley discusses the challenges of the United States and its allies with faculty and students affiliated with the Freeman Spogli Institute’s Center for International Security and Cooperation.




Stanford archeologist Laura Jones and her students  excavate the site of the men’s gymnasium, which was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, in preparation for construction of a new concert hall near Frost Amphitheater.

Stanford joins a team of universities collaborating with the new King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, which will be a major international and graduate-level research university in Saudi Arabia.


U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson delivers the keynote address at the 2008 Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research Economic Summit.


David Luenberger, professor of management science and engineering, and J. Michael Harrison, the Adams Distinguished Professor of Management, are elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

Yahoo! cofounder Jerry Yang and his wife, Akiko Yamazaki, both alumni, and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom are on hand for the dedication of the new environment and energy building.




Stanford announces a one-year pilot program to offer gender-neutral housing to students who request it.

Alumna Sandra Day O’Connor, former U.S. Supreme Court associate justice, returns to the Farm as the first lecturer for “Harry’s Last Lecture,” given in honor of her late professor, Harry Rathbun.


The Cardinal, led by Candice Wiggins, competes in the NCAA women’s basketball finals, only to fall to Tennessee.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences chooses seven faculty for membership: Mark Granovetter (Sociology), Philip Hanawalt (Biology), Mark Horowitz (Engineering), Mark Gregory Kelman (Law), Herbert Lindenberger (English), Jim Plummer (Engineering) and Scott Sagan (Political Science).

The National Academy of Sciences elects five faculty to membership: Steven Boxer (Chemistry), Margaret Fuller (Human Biology), Ronald Levy (Medicine), Andrei Linde (Physics) and David Miller (Electrical Engineering).

The School of Medicine breaks ground on the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge during centennial celebrations marking the school’s founding in San Francisco.


The Federal Communications Commission holds a public hearing at Stanford to discuss net neutrality—the notion that everyone has a right to equal access to the Internet.


Alumna and Stanford parent Leslie Hume is elected president of the Board of Trustees, the first woman to hold the post since Jane Stanford.


Beth Levin, the William H. Bonsall Professor in the Humanities, is named a 2008 fellow by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.




The Howard Hughes Medical Institute names four new investigators: Mark Schnitzer (Biology, Applied Physics), Kang Shen (Biology), Seung Kim (Developmental Biology) and Julie Theriot (Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology).

The Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics celebrates its 50th anniversary with a reunion for about 500 alumni, students, faculty and staff.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright discusses international affairs before a packed Kresge Auditorium with Scott Sagan, professor of political science.


The artifacts and archives of the late Harvard paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould are acquired by the Stanford Libraries.

Some 350 students, staff, faculty and alumni volunteer off-campus at local nonprofit organizations as part of the University’s biennial Community Partnership Program.


The American Philosophical Society selects six for membership: Gretchen Daily (Biology), John Hennessy (Electrical Engineering, Computer Science), Roger Kornberg (Biology), James McClelland (Psychology), Claude Steele (Social Sciences) and Irving Weissman (Developmental Biology).

Lars Osterberg, clinical assistant professor of medicine, wins the Haas Center’s Roland Prize for integrating academic scholarship with volunteer service.

The Law School faculty votes to adopt a new grading system that replaces letter grades with a system of honors, pass, restricted credit and no credit.


Oprah Winfrey gives the address at Commencement, where 4,666 degrees are granted, telling students that she regrets not being able to give them new cars, but offers—instead—free books.

The papers of Saddam Hussein find a temporary home at the Hoover Institution, which will hold them for five years and then arrange for their return to Iraq.

School of Education faculty members unanimously decide to make their scholarly articles available for free to the public, becoming the first education school in the nation to do so.


The Center for Buddhist Studies receives a $5 million gift from the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation to fund graduate fellowships and create an endowment.

Aron Rodrigue, the Eva Chernov Lokey Professor in Jewish Studies, is named director of the Stanford Humanities Center.




The Stanford Symphony Orchestra, Stanford Taiko and choral ensembles from the Department of Music perform in China under the auspices of the Arts Initiative to promote cultural exchange and increase understanding between Chinese and American youth.

The National War Powers Commission, co-chaired by law alumnus Warren Christopher and for which the Law School and Freeman Spogli Institute were partner institutions, releases recommendations regarding the war powers of the president and Congress.


Forty-eight current and former Stanford athletes—the most of any university—compete in the Beijing Olympic Games, winning 25 medals, including eight gold, 13 silver and four bronze.




The Biochemistry Department celebrates its 50th anniversary with an event honoring the original founding faculty, including Nobel Prize winner Paul Berg, the Robert W. and Vivian K. Cahill Professor of Cancer Research, Emeritus.


Alumnus Jen-Hsun Huang, founder and chief executive officer of NVIDIA, pledges $30 million to help build the new 130,000-square-foot Jen-Hsun Huang School of Engineering Center.

The School of Medicine announces it will no longer accept support from pharmaceutical or device companies for continuing medical education out of concern that doing so might compromise the integrity of physician programs.




The National Academy of Sciences selects Roger Blandford, the Pehong and Adele Chen Director of the
Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, to chair the next “decadal survey” in astronomy, which will produce a list of projects astronomers want to pursue.

Stanley Falkow, the Robert W. and Vivian K. Cahill Professor of Cancer Research, wins the 2008 Lasker-Koshland Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science for research into how bacteria cause human disease.


Hoover House, the home of the Stanford president, goes solar with the addition of panels that send photovoltaic energy to the house and the Pacific Gas and Electric grid.

Stanford welcomes 1,704 new freshmen and 22 transfer students, selected from among about 25,000


The Registrar’s Office begins to make some core web-based systems and services available to students as applications on Apple’s iPhone.

Stanford ranks among the top 15 colleges or universities in sustainable practices, according to the Sustainable Endowments Institute, which conducts an annual national survey.

The Center for Ethics in Society is renamed the Bowen H. McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society to honor a $5 million gift from alumnus Buzz McCoy and his wife, Barbara.


The National Institutes of Health announces that James Chen (Chemical and Systems Biology) and Ricardo Dolmetsch (Neurobiology) have won Director’s Pioneer Awards, and Zev Bryant (Bioengineering), Shelli Kesler (Psychiatry) and Joseph Wu (Medicine) New Innovator Awards.


Alumnus Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, returns to the Farm to speak as part of the Haas Center’s Voices for Public Service Leadership series.

Christopher Field, professor of biology, senior fellow at the Woods Institute and director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology, is elected co-chair of Working Group 2 of the Nobel Prize-winning U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


An economic impact study shows that Stanford, the largest employer in Silicon Valley in 2006, made $3.8 billion in direct expenditures that year and spent more than half that sum in neighboring Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

Reunion Homecoming draws 8,729 people for activities including a roundtable on leadership, hosted by journalist and Stanford parent Tom Brokaw, and a panel on the economic crisis, organized by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.



The name of alumnus and U. S. Marine Donald Ryan McGlothlin, who died in the war in Iraq, is added to Memorial Hall.

The official name of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is changed to the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.


Stanford Hospital and Clinics and the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital unveil architectural plans for new construction and renovation.


William Moerner, the Harry S. Mosher Professor of Chemistry, is awarded the 2009 Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics by the American Physical Society, after having earlier shared the 2008 Wolf Prize in

The papers of alumnus William Rehnquist, the late U.S. Supreme Court chief justice, are donated to the Hoover Institution Archives.




Kwabena Boahen, assistant professor of bioengineering, is among the researchers receiving a $4.9 million federal grant to create an artificial brain so small and independently functional it could fit in a backpack.


Alumna Sarah Kleinman is awarded a 2009 Rhodes Scholarship, and seniors Max Kleiman-Weiner and Douglas Stanford are awarded Marshall Scholarships.

Stanford and SRI International celebrate the 40th anniversary of Douglas Engelbart’s revolutionary 1968 introduction of the computer mouse and hypertext linking.



Stanford faculty involved in President-Elect Barack Obama’s transition are Linda Darling-Hammond (Education), Mariano-Florentino Cuellar (Law), Greg Rosston (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research), Peter Henry (Economics), Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall (Freeman Spogli Institute) and Michael McFaul (Freeman Spogli Institute).

Nobel Prize winner Steven Chu, professor of physics and applied physics and head of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is nominated to head the Department of Energy by President-Elect Barack Obama.