This article is a response to an article on the New Yorker website. The ideas expressed here are the opinions of the author alone, not an official opinion of the University or this publication.
Dear Mr. Thompson,
This morning you published an article entitled, “The End of Stanford?” It is one of the most sensationalist and unsubstantiated pieces of journalism I have ever read.
You are misinformed about the Stanford of today, but you didn’t make an effort to learn more about it. Of your 14 hyperlinks, 9 of them referenced articles from your own website. The only reference to the stanford.edu domain was that of Synergy’s website, which publicly displays the password for its own wiki page. See the screenshot from Synergy’s webpage at right.
You may not have done your research, but I have, and I would like to clarify some of your points.
We are no mere tech incubator. Stanford University is ranked #1 in the world for its arts and humanities programs. 85% of our undergraduates as of the last academic year are in non-engineering majors. Our political science, psychology, economics, English, history, and sociology graduate schools all rank in the top 5 in the nation. Our business school is #1. Our law school is #2. Education is #5.
I’m no zealot for the start-up culture myself, but it must be contextualized to be understood. At a school with 6,999 undergraduates and 8,871 graduate students, 12 students dropping out to form a company is hardly statistically significant. While you may not approve of Stanford’s start-up culture, I dare you to deny its efficacy: companies formed by Stanford alumni create $2.7 trillion in revenue annually and have created 5.4 million jobs. We have the world’s 10th largest economy.
In your article, you ask, “Shouldn’t [a great university] be a place to drift, to think, to read, to meet new people, and to work at whatever inspires you?” We wholeheartedly agree, and this is exactly what our curriculum seeks to do. This is why our new, introductory course sequence (mandatory for all students) is called Thinking Matters.
I’m mostly puzzled by your article because I don’t understand your motivation. You’re a Stanford graduate. Why are you taking such inaccurate hits at your alma mater? To take us down a notch? It seems like your deliberately controversial article is just a ploy for page-views.
I invite you to visit Stanford as it is today. Heck, I’ll give you a tour. Join me in seeing Stanford not as we appear to the uninformed eye, but to those who engage in its true academic culture.
I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Kristi Bohl, Stanford ’13