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Voices from the Hennessy Presidency Book Cover and Panelists

Voices from the Hennessy Presidency: Reflections on University Leadership—A Conversation with John Hennessy, John Etchemendy, Patricia Gumport, and Eric Knight

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Program recording available here.
Read Stanford Report article on the event.


What does it take to lead a great university? How does a team of leaders coalesce in a highly decentralized institution? What are the stories behind Stanford’s successes and challenges in working strategically for institutional change?

Join four leaders and scholars of higher education for a candid discussion about the struggles and opportunities, the teamwork, and the strategies and decision-making processes that characterized Stanford during the Hennessy years (2000–2016) and a thought-provoking conversation about how lessons from Stanford’s past may shed light on the most pressing issues facing university leaders today.

The program celebrates the Stanford Historical Society’s publication of Voices from the Hennessy Presidency: Collected Interviews with University Leaders, 2000-2016. Comprised of excerpts from oral history interviews with twenty-one faculty and staff leaders during the presidency of John L. Hennessy (2000-2016), these interviews speak to the dynamics of institutional change, the nature of collaborative leadership, the processes that spark innovation, the keys to attracting and retaining faculty and staff talent, and much more. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event and online [see this page for details].


John L. Hennessy, Stanford University President Emeritus, Shriram Family Director of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program, and James F. and Mary Lynn Gibbons Professor and Professor of Electrical Engineering and of Computer Science. 

John L. Hennessy served as the tenth president of Stanford University from 2000 to 2016. He is director of Knight-Hennessy Scholars, the largest fully endowed graduate-level scholarship program in the world; chairman of the board of Alphabet; and board member for Cisco Systems and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. He is also a computer scientist who co-founded MIPS Computer Systems and Atheros Communications. He and Dave Patterson were awarded the ACM A.M. Turing Prize for 2017. John L. Hennessy’s memoir, Leading Matters: Lessons from My Journey, was published by Stanford Business Books, an imprint of Stanford University Press, in 2018.

John Etchemendy, Stanford University Provost Emeritus; Denning Co-Director, Stanford HAI; and Patrick Suppes Family Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences.

Currently a professor of philosophy and symbolic systems, John Etchemendy was Stanford’s twelfth provost from 2000 to 2017, the longest serving provost in the university’s history. During that time, he hired deans for all seven schools and numerous academic vice provosts, introduced the largest increase for undergraduate financial aid in Stanford’s history, and oversaw the hiring of 80 percent of Stanford’s faculty members and 70 major building projects. In his 35 years as a Stanford faculty member, he has also served as director of the Center for the Study of Language and Information, chair of the Philosophy Department, and senior associate dean for the School of Humanities and Sciences. 

Patricia Gumport, Professor of Education and Director of the Stanford Institute for Higher Education Research, Stanford University

Patricia Gumport served as Stanford’s first Vice Provost of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs from 2006 to 2019. As a sociologist of higher education, Dr. Gumport has focused her research and teaching on key changes in the academic landscape and organizational character of American higher education. She has studied the dynamics of academic change—illuminating what facilitates change and what impedes it—across and within different types of colleges and universities. Her books include Academic Fault Lines (2019) and American Higher Education in the Twenty-first Century: Social, Political, and Economic Challenges (2023).  Since 2019, she has co-directed the Stanford Leadership Academy, an important locus for training the next generation of university leaders.

Eric Knight, Executive Dean and Professor of Strategic Management, Macquarie University Business School, Sydney, Australia

Eric Knight is an internationally recognized scholar in the field of organizational theory and strategic management. His research marshals theories from sociology to better understand social and communication processes within organizations, with an interest in strategic change as a dynamic process. A Rhodes Scholar, he has published in such journals as Strategic Management Journal, Organization Studies, and Academy of Management Review. He conducted much of the research for Voices from the Hennessy Presidency as a Fulbright Senior Scholar to Stanford University in 2019-2020.