Stanford’s progress toward the ambitious goal of transforming learning at the university and beyond will accelerate this winter as construction begins on the new home of the Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE) and the Stanford Accelerator for Learning, a key initiative of the Stanford Vision. Located near Stanford’s Main Quad, the renovated GSE will bring the school’s faculty, students and staff together in one location for the first time.
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Philanthropic support for the new GSE facilities includes lead gifts from longtime donors Angela Nomellini, ’75, and husband Ken Olivier, ’74, and Tricia and Jeff Raikes, ’80, as well as other generous donors.
“The science of learning is an area of rapid discovery, with promising opportunities to achieve equitable, accessible, and effective learning for all,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. “Modern, centralized facilities will be critical to enabling GSE to accelerate the creation and dissemination of solutions to pressing challenges facing students in all communities. I am deeply grateful for the extraordinary generosity of all the donors who has stepped forward to help realize this vision.”
GSE will arise from the complete renovation of the historic education building at 485 Lasuen Mall and the construction of a new building at 505 Lasuen Mall that will complement the current education building. Completing the school is a third, historic building: the Barnum Center for Family and Community Partnerships, which over time has housed the university’s candy store, career center and bookstore. This building remains and preserves the Barnum family name.
Together, the buildings will contain more than 150,000 square meters of universally designed teaching, convocation, conference and community spaces, providing ample opportunities to experiment and utilize the latest technologies and approaches to promote learning. The three buildings will be connected by a 13,500-square-foot courtyard that is expected to become a signature space on campus with unique features, including the Mary Bell Floyd Memorial Garden, an outdoor classroom and garden designed to be in bloom year-round. Construction is expected to take about two and a half years to complete.
“This is an exciting milestone in our journey to create a space worthy of the work we do to prepare teachers and educational leaders, conduct research and collaborate with schools and other education-focused organizations,” said Dan Schwartz, dean of Stanford Graduate School of Education and the Nomellini & Olivier Professor of Educational Technology. “This unprecedented goal could not have been achieved without these early and generous pledges. Together, we are creating something very special for our community and students everywhere.”
“A well-educated citizenry is essential for a successful democracy; therefore, everyone must have access to a high-quality education,” said Angela Nomellini, who is a member and former chair of the GSE Advisory Council. “We believe that the Research School is well positioned, as part of a targeted university, to make great progress to ensure that everyone, regardless of background and challenges, can get a quality education. Our investment in the new GSE buildings reflects our belief in Stanford’s ability to transform learning and our belief in the importance of its mission.”
Tricia Raikes, member of the GSE Advisory Council and Undergraduate Cabinet, said the complexities of our time require fresh, interdisciplinary approaches to learning.
“It will be critical for us to use an inclusive and justice-centered lens as we prepare leaders to address our greatest challenges. Stanford has intersections of technology, medicine, business and the environment, but the power of learning transcends all of these fields,” said Raikes. This new learning hub will house and cultivate expertise critical to all disciplines. Because education and learning have never been more important, the establishment of this new home makes a bold statement that transforming learning is key to Stanford achieving its core priorities. We are excited to be part of the university’s vision for the future of learning.”
Accelerating the learning of the future
GSE is home to the Stanford Accelerator for Learning, which supports interdisciplinary research and design aimed at creating equitable learning solutions that help all students thrive. Led by Schwartz, who also serves as the Halper Family Stanford Accelerator for Learning Faculty Director, the accelerator plays an important role in expanding Stanford’s impact by connecting communities, organizations and institutions around the globe to knowledge and solutions around education and learning generated through the university and its partners.
The university’s investments in the Stanford Accelerator for Learning and GSE are driven by the understanding that high-quality educational experiences are transformative and the need for new ideas is urgent.
“Why is education and learning so important?” Schwartz said. “They are correlated with every single positive outcome — longevity, health, income, civic engagement, democracy and happiness.”
While housed in GSE, the accelerator leverages the strengths of each Stanford school to improve outcomes for all kinds of students at any stage of learning, including early childhood, neurodiverse, historically marginalized, workforce, and online learners.
Fueled by new advances and discoveries in the brain and learning sciences, data and technology, the Stanford Accelerator for Learning differs in three ways: It focuses on the real challenges facing students; it merges the science of learning with the design of learning experiences to create solutions that effectively address these challenges; and it includes dissemination and partnerships in the research strategy to ensure that solutions get into the hands of practitioners and students outside of Stanford.
For example, the new Stanford Center on Early Childhood—an integral component of the accelerator—will bring together researchers, pediatricians, students, educators, and others working on issues facing our youngest students.
A hub for collaboration
The renovated facilities will usher in a new era for the school, finally co-locating its faculty, students and staff. In addition to creating community, the space will be a hub for interdisciplinary collaboration, facilitate contemporary teaching and research and offer a model for learning spaces at the university and across the globe.
To maximize its impact, GSE’s work must reflect the challenges and systems that students and their families navigate. For example, when it comes to learning differences and the future of special education or early learning and development, partnerships between GSE and other Stanford schools—like the School of Medicine—are critical to meeting students where they are.
“A common thread in medicine and education is that we work to improve the human condition,” said Lloyd Minor, Carl and Elizabeth Naumann Professor and Dean of the School of Medicine. “We are natural partners. The Accelerator and the new GSE will facilitate meaningful partnerships and truly enhance our ability to co-create solutions.”
A milestone driven by philanthropy
Angela Nomellini and Ken Olivier have a long history of supporting GSE as well as many other Stanford students, faculty and programs across campus. In addition to his service on the GSE Advisory Council, Nomellini previously served on the Stanford Athletic Board, the GSE New Building Task Force, the Stanford Challenge Leadership Council, and the advisory board for the Stanford Initiative on Improving K-12 Education. She was awarded the Stanford Medal in 2016 for her decades of distinguished volunteer service to the university. Former chairman and CEO of San Francisco asset management firm Dodge & Cox, Olivier currently serves on the Stanford Board of Trustees and the advisory boards of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR); previously he has been a member of Stanford Management Company’s board of directors. Their philanthropy has established professorships in international studies and educational technology, and an athletics scholarship, and provided support for FSI, SIEPR, Stanford Athletics, the School of Medicine, the Hoover Institution, and the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program.
Tricia and Jeff Raikes are also longtime Stanford supporters and active university citizens. In addition to serving on the GSE Advisory Council, Tricia Raikes is a member of the Undergraduate Cabinet and previously served on the Stanford Challenge Leadership Council. Outside of Stanford, she is a member of the Seattle Advisors Group and previously led Creative Services at Microsoft. Jeff Raikes, former executive director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has served as a member and chair of the Stanford Board of Trustees. He is also a former member of the Hoover Institution Board of Overseers, the Stanford Challenge Leadership Council, and the Presidential Search Committee. The couple co-founded the Raikes Foundation, which focuses on empowering young people and creating a just and inclusive society. Along with their foundation, the Raikeses’ philanthropy has supported the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program, established an undergraduate scholarship, invested in Stanford Athletics, and supported research into successful college transitions and equitable learning environments.