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Faculty Senate

Through interviews with former Stanford Faculty Senate chairs, academic secretaries, and others, this project captures first-hand accounts of the senate’s origins and operational character, its evolution and impact, and the events it has grappled with over the years.

Launched to recognize the 50th anniversary of the establishement of the body, the Stanford Faculty Senate Oral History Projectis sponsored by the Stanford Historical Society, the Office of the Academic Secretary, and the Stanford University Archives.

Oral Histories

2018 | Project: Faculty Senate
Political Science
Interviewer: Gamlen, Tod
In this oral history, David Abernethy, a professor emeritus of political science who served seventeen terms in the Faculty Senate and chaired the body during the 1981-82 academic year, discusses the role and processes of the Faculty Senate and some of the controversial issues it has grappled with,...
2018 | Project: Faculty Senate
Economics
Interviewer: Weiler, Hans
Kenneth J. Arrow served on the Executive Committee of the Academic Council around the time that the Faculty Senate was proposed and on a sub-committee appointed by the Executive Committee to consider Herbert Packer's proposal regarding the creation of an academic senate. Arrow later chaired the...
2018 | Project: Faculty Senate
Philosophy
Interviewer: Gifford, Jonathan
Michael Bratman offers general reflections on the operations of the Stanford Faculty Senate and describes his experience as the chair of the 29th Faculty Senate in 1996-1997. A key topic of the 29th Senate was the reevaluation of the Cultures, Ideas, and Values (CIV) Area One requirement, and...
2018 | Project: Faculty Senate
English
Interviewer: Marine-Street, Natalie
William M. Chace discusses his involvement with Stanford’s Faculty Senate, including his time as chair during the 1978-1979 term. He discusses the founding of the Faculty Senate, in part, as a response to civil unrest on campus during the Vietnam War. He describes issues that came before the body,...
2018 | Project: Faculty Senate
Political Science
Interviewer: Marine-Street, Natalie
Professor Emeritus Charles Drekmeier, who served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Academic Council from 1966 to 1968, describes the general climate at Stanford around the time that the Faculty Senate was formed. He discusses the circumstances that led to his arrival at Stanford in 1958...
2018 | Project: Faculty Senate
Law
Interviewer: Weiler, Hans
Thomas Ehrlich, a former faculty member and dean of the Stanford Law School, discusses the early years of the Stanford Faculty Senate. Ehrlich served on the senate for seven years. He was a member of the first Stanford Faculty Senate in 1968-69, and he served on the Senate Steering Committee and as...
2018 | Project: Faculty Senate
Law
Interviewer: Marine-Street, Natalie
Marc A. Franklin recalls the circumstances, including a chance conversation with Gerry Gunther, that led him to join the faculty of the Stanford Law School in 1962. He offers recollections of the Law School faculty, including Herbert L. Packer, a key mover behind the construction of the Faculty...
2018 | Project: Faculty Senate
Medical School
Interviewer: Horton, Larry
Professor Rex Jamison focuses on the Faculty Senate from his perspective as academic secretary to the university from 2007 to 2014. Topics covered include the origins and organization of the senate, the work of the senate chair and committees, and issues that came before the senate during his...
2018 | Project: Faculty Senate
Biology
Interviewer: Marincovich, Michele
Biologist Pat Jones served as chair of the faculty senate in 1993-94, vice-chair in 1988-89, and as representative from the School of Humanities & Sciences Natural Sciences unit during many terms. In the first part of this interview, she provides a general sense of how the senate works, its...
2017 | Project: Faculty Senate
Communication
Interviewer: Marine-Street, Natalie J.
In this interview, Marion Lewenstein focuses on the Stanford University Faculty Senate from her perspective as the 15th academic secretary to the university from 1991 to 1994. Lewenstein recalls how she was recruited to the faculty of the Communication Department and later became the academic...
2018 | Project: Faculty Senate
English
Interviewer: Marine-Street, Natalie
Nancy Packer, the Melvin and Bill Lane Professor in the Humanities and Professor of English, Emeritus and a former member of the Faculty Senate, reflects on the career of her husband Herbert L. Packer, who proposed the idea of the Faculty Senate, comments on the campus climate in the 1960s and...
2018 | Project: Faculty Senate
Academic Secretary
Interviewer: Marine-Street, Natalie
Susan Schofield served as Stanford University’s academic secretary from 1996 to 2002. Describing the role of the academic secretary as a “facilitator of faculty governance,” Schofield provides details on the day-to-day operations of the Office of the Academic Secretary and the Faculty Senate. She...
2018 | Project: Faculty Senate
History
Interviewer: Marine-Street, Natalie
James J. Sheehan, the chair of the 24th Faculty Senate (1991-92), offers details about the institution’s routine operational procedures and reflects on its function within the university. He compares Stanford’s mode of governance with what he experienced as a faculty member at Northwestern...
2018 | Project: Faculty Senate
History
Interviewer: Marincovich, Michele
Peter D. L. Stansky, Field Professor of History, Emeritus, and a the chair of the 10th Faculty Senate, delves into the establishment of the Faculty Senate, including the initial memo written by Herbert Packer outlining the plan for the body. He explains the roles of the Academic Council and its...
2018 | Project: Faculty Senate
Physics
Interviewer: Marine-Street, Natalie
J. Dirk Walecka, a former chair of the Stanford Faculty Senate, recalls the impact of the anti-Vietnam War movement in the 1960s as a factor leading to the creation of the senate. He explains the role of the Senate Steering Committee and how its work facilitated important legislative decisions. He...