Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Embracing the Challenge

As an extraordinary academic year comes to an end, we look forward to the exciting opportunities ahead.

As we approach graduation I am inspired by the MBAs, Sloans, and PhDs who will walk across the stage into the next chapters of their careers. I'm in awe of their achievements and capabilities, and I eagerly anticipate the changes they will bring to the world.

These soon-to-be graduates will take their place among our alumni and will come to appreciate what an extraordinary community they are joining, one whose members are tremendously supportive of one another and of the GSB. Nowhere is this more palpably demonstrated than in the successful completion last December of The Stanford Challenge, a five-year fundraising effort by Stanford University aimed at securing the resources to enable the university to tackle the world's greatest problems.

The GSB portion of the campaign began in 2006 under the leadership of Dean Bob Joss, who set an ambitious goal of raising $500 mil- lion. Among Bob's numerous achievements were his vision for and commitment to building the new Knight Management Center, and his ability to generate widespread support for The Stanford Challenge, which set the GSB on course to finance the "3Cs": a new campus, a new curriculum, and greater collaboration with the university.

Thanks to your incredible support, the GSB far exceeded its goal, raising a record-setting $884 million from more than 15,000 generous donors. The broad participation of more than 50% of current GSB alumni reflects the exceptional strength of our global community and affirms our collective belief in the transformational power of the GSB education. I am deeply grateful for, and humbled by, the depth and breadth of this support. Thank you!

More than $300 million was used to build the Knight Management Center, nearly $200 million was given to establish the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED) and to support the school's four centers, and over $150 million was contributed to support faculty and students. Please accept my sincere appreciation and know that we will steward the resources carefully toward our overarching goal of changing lives, changing organizations, and changing the world.

Consistent with the GSB culture, we will not rest on our laurels. More than 18 months ago, we initiated a planning process dedicated to uncovering the strategic imperatives that would keep the GSB at the forefront of management education. Some of the biggest initiatives we are examining include leveraging technology to improve the learning experience of our students on campus and to drive distance learning and knowledge dissemination, increasing our global engagement strategy, and deepening our ability to collaborate with students and faculty across Stanford University. We plan to finalize our core initiatives in the next few months and look forward to sharing our strategy with you this fall.

The inauguration of the Stanford Center at Peking University last March is an important new development that will support all of these imperatives. The Beijing campus provides a base of operations in China that enables us to facilitate faculty research on a range of subjects, develop cases studies for teaching purposes, and scale our programs on entrepreneurship and innovation through the Stanford Program on Regions of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SPRIE), the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED), and others. As I look at Executive Education, the MBA program, and everything in between, I see tremendous opportunities for advancing our programs and for bringing what we learn in China back to our Stanford classes.

Over the past few years we have been steadily increasing our connections to China through faculty research, conferences on innovation, and study trips. Our presence in China is significantly strengthened by a growing number of alumni who are leading high-profile technology companies there. That some of the most entrepreneurial business leaders in China are GSB graduates is an affirmation that our management education programs are making an impact on Chinese business and society.

As I reflect on the tremendous and gracious support of alumni, the dedication of our faculty and staff, and the energy of our students, I am excited at the prospect of what we will accomplish together in the months and years ahead.