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Vice Provost Greg Boardman

Greg Boardman

October 13, 2014

Windhover delivers the message that the quality of all intellectual endeavor is directly linked to fulfilling one's emotional and spiritual needs.

Reflect. Renew.

Retreat. Replenish.

Unplug. Breathe.

Welcome to Windhover. Thank you for joining us this afternoon to celebrate the dedication of this contemplative space that was originally envisioned some 20 years ago. I welcome those who dreamed of this day for a long time—especially our lead donor, Suzanne Sumerlin Duca; Joe Oliveira, Nathan’s son; and his family. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to this project.

I also wish to welcome and thank all of you who contributed to this inspirational project including members of the building planning committee; the program and operations team and especially our project manager, Maggie Burgett.

Thank you to the architects at Aidlin Darling Design; Andrea Cochran Landscape; and the construction management team from SC Builders. Thank you President Hennessy, Provost Etchemendy, and former Dean for Religious Life Scotty McLennan, for your leadership. In addition, thank you to the Office for Religious Life, the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, the Office of Land, Buildings & Real Estate; and the dozens of individuals who supported, planned and consulted along this path.

During our program this afternoon you will hear from our student body President, Elizabeth Woodson; our new Dean for Religious Life, Jane Shaw; Provost Etchemendy; Suzanne Duca; and we’ll conclude with Jerry Yang who will formally accept Windhover on behalf of the Board of Trustees.

We understand the unique pressures and stressors today’s students experience. Windhover delivers the message that the quality of all intellectual endeavor is directly linked to fulfilling one's emotional and spiritual needs. Inspired by Nathan Oliveira’s Windhover series, this space is a refuge from the daily stressors. Windhover will be appreciated not just for what one sees, but also how one feels—how this experience contributes to one's overall well-being.

Today we gather here at Windhover in this oak grove, located in the heart of campus, yet seemingly removed from the fast-paced activities surrounding us. The path to the building’s entrance—a progression through a long, private garden sheltered from its surroundings by a line of bamboo—allows one to shed the outside world before entering. Personally, I like to think of it as a path of discovery; a place that I’ve somehow accidently stumbled upon—a secret retreat that nobody else knows about.

Once inside, the space opens fully to the oaks, where louvered skylights wash the paintings with natural light, which is constantly changing as the day progresses, unifying art, architecture and landscape.

Thick rammed earth walls (which provide a sense of grounding) complemented by the wood surfaces further heighten the visitor’s sensory experience.

And, of course, there is the centerpiece of Windhover—Oliveira’s paintings of wings that serve as a metaphor for flight and for the freedom of the mind.

Water, too, plays an important role, providing ambient sounds, while a reflecting pool and garden live in harmony with the surrounding trees.

And one can experience the serenity of walking the labyrinth, which may be just the path one needs to follow after a long day of work or classes.

To learn more about Windhover’s journey, its mission and purpose, as well as the art and the artist, I encourage you to visit

A couple items of note while visiting:

The building is open every day from 11 am–11 pm for contemplation via access with your Stanford ID card, with some mornings (prior to 11 am) set aside for programming opportunities, such as yoga and weekly tours led by Cantor docents.

Also, the space will fulfill its vision as a place to truly unplug—figuratively and literally—as we have designated this space to be tech free; so please unplug all of your gadgets when you visit. I hope you visit often.

During an interview with Oliveira 20 years ago, he expressed his wish that the Windhover paintings be installed together in one special space, where they can harmonize with the environment outside. Today, no doubt, Oliveira is smiling upon us as we celebrate and honor his vision; and, more importantly, that we’ve created an inspirational, contemplative space for generations of Stanford students, faculty and staff.