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Meet the Vice Provost

Vice Provost for Graduate Education Patricia J. Gumport

Patricia J. Gumport is Stanford's first Vice Provost for Graduate Education.

VPGE 2006

A message from Patricia J. Gumport, Vice Provost for Graduate Education

Excellent graduate programs are the hallmark of a world-class university, and Stanford has a long legacy as one of the world’s greatest research universities. More than half of Stanford’s students today are graduate students. Each of Stanford’s seven schools prepares graduate students—in master’s, professional, doctoral, and postdoctoral programs. These students figure prominently in Stanford’s long-standing reputation for academic excellence, intellectual innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit.

At the heart of Stanford’s mission is a deep commitment to advance knowledge and understanding within and across disciplines. We do this exceptionally well—in the humanities, sciences, engineering, social sciences, arts, and professions—in no small part by helping graduate students develop as colleagues who become highly effective leaders in all sectors: educational institutions, business, government, and nonprofit organizations.

Indeed, working with the finest young minds in the country and the world—the graduate students and postdocs who come to Stanford—is a rare privilege accorded our faculty and staff. Stanford students break intellectual ground with new understandings and important discoveries. They bring vital curiosity and enthusiasm to their exchanges with colleagues. They often push faculty to try new things, or to apply well-understood ideas in novel ways. By asking “Why is it done this way?” students can launch fundamentally new conceptions and innovative practices.

Stanford is distinctive in that our schools, departments, and faculty have considerable autonomy in shaping their graduate program requirements and allocating resources. As a result, programs within the university vary greatly. But even though graduate education is highly decentralized, we embrace university-wide standards and values, and we move freely across disciplines with a spirit of exploration and experimentation. In fact, fostering cross-disciplinary collaboration is one of Stanford’s most prominent legacies, one that continues to yield much benefit to our students and alumni, as well as to our faculty and staff.

For Stanford’s faculty and staff, the benefits of working with students come with commensurate responsibilities. We have a sacred trust to do well by our students. All members of the university community have a collective charge to ensure that every student has access to the best Stanford has to offer. The stakes are high, and our ideals even higher. Today’s students will be tomorrow’s leaders in the United States and around the world.

It is a genuine honor and a privilege to serve as Stanford’s first Vice Provost for Graduate Education. I am extremely fortunate to work in a university that upholds the highest academic standards and encourages intellectual risk-taking. My intention—and the mission of our office—is to strengthen our most cherished academic practices while bringing new ideas, expertise, and resources to enrich the educational experiences of our students.